2017 Grammys: How Brands Expressed Themselves Through Music

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Nike Equality ad Grammys 2017

Along with Beyonce, Adele, Bruno Mars and other artists, brands also took the stage at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony on Sunday night, updating classic songs, dipping into their own roots or using the occasion to assert current-day corporate citizenship principles, starting with:


Nike Grammys Equality commercial 2017

Set against a jazzy soundtrack and Alicia Keys singing “A Change is Gonna Come,” Nike‘s spoken word “Equality” ad was one of the most-buzzed-about of the Grammy Awards ceremony telecast, passing 1.6 million views within 11 hours of being posted on YouTube.

The campaign promotes the brand’s new corporate citizenship platform, highlighting the power of sports (and Nike athletes including LeBron James and Serena Williams) to promote equality. The messaging “encourages people to take the fairness and respect they see in sport and translate them off the field” and highlights new not-for-profit partners (PeacePlayers International and MENTOR) to take action (more in the behind-the-scenes video):

Is this the land history promised?
This field of play.
Where the dream of fairness and mutual respect lives on.
Where you are defined by actions, not your looks and beliefs. 
For too long these ideals have taken refuge inside these lines. 
Equality should have no boundaries.
The bond between players should exist between people. 
Opportunity should be indiscriminate.
Worth should outshine color.
The ball should bounce the same for everyone.
If we can be equals here, we can be equals everywhere.


As noted in our Q&A, Lincoln debuted a new Continental TV ad featuring contemporary Texas blues musician Gary Clark Jr. performing “The Healing” with a custom-made amplifier (by Ben Fargen) that reflects features of the 2017 Lincoln Continental. (More in the behind-the-scenes video.)


Apple released a trailer for Carpool Karaoke: The Series, with Grammys host James Corden promoting the upcoming long form version of his popular late night TV segment. Another spot promoted the Apple Watch Series 2 while another ad was a lyrical ode to iPhone 7’s camera capabilities:


Google promoted its Pixel phone with a montage of musicians’ covers of “Nothing Compares 2 U” following the Bruno Mars tribute to Prince, whose catalog just arrived on streaming services:


Hilton introduced the #MusicHappensHere campaign:


Starbucks ran its already-released “A Year of Good” look back at 2016:


Johnnie Walker ran this cover of “This Land Is Your Land” by Woodie Guthrie, as performed by Los Angeles band Chicano Batman:


Mastercard ran the Masterpass #ThankTheFans campaign:


Oreo ran its Christina Aguilera spot for the Oreo Dunk wonderfilled sweepstakes campaign:


Target bought airtime for an update on the classic 1988 hip-hop hit “It Takes Two” by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock by Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen and American rapper Lil Yachty. The three-minute ad was produced by Mike WiLL Made-It, choreographed by Mandy Moore and directed by Roman Coppola (more in the behind-the-scenes here):


Gap also updated an old school tune — “All For Love” by Color Me Badd — to promote its limited edition dive into its archives with the Generation Gap collection and the offspring of its 90’s ad stars including Demi Moore’s daughter Rumer Willis, Steve Tyler’s daughter Chelsea and Mick Jagger’s daughter Lizzy:


adidas Originals continued its retro update series, putting a modern twist on “My Way” by Frank Sinatra in a campaign titled “Original is never finished” (tagline: “True creativity is never finished”) with remixes by Snoop Dogg and also Desiigner and MadeInTYO:

The campaign “features visionaries from the worlds of music, art, skate, and sport. Reaffirming the notion original is never finished, the film features a remix of the iconic song, “My Way” by Frank Sinatra with a provocative approach to today’s streetwear culture. adidas Originals turns to the new generation of creators to inspire them to redefine their meaning of originality. ‘Original is Never Finished’ film explores this idea that driving culture forward can recreate the idea of what is truly original.

Referencing the legendary album, Doggystyle, the adidas recreates a trippy chase scene through Snoop Dogg’s debut album cover. In an ode to the history of film and hip hop videos from the 90s, the video transitions from VHS to HD footage as the dog runs away from the dog catcher. Finally revealing that the dog is in fact the real D O G G.

Doggystyle is the debut studio album by American West Coast hip hop artist Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle has earned recognition from many music critics as one of the most significant albums of the 1990s, as well as one of the most important hip hop albums ever released. Much like The Chronic, the distinctive sounds of Doggystyle helped introduce the hip hop style of G-funk to a mainstream audience, bringing forward West Coast hip hop as a dominant force in the early 1990s.


Beats by Dre promoted the BeatsX magnetic earbuds:


Not all brands embraced music to get their messaging across. The anti-smoking truth campaign called out the tobacco industry for targeting US youths in a mockumentary-style report:


Mercedes-Benz plugged its 4MATIC feature:


Hyundai updated its “A Better Homecoming” Super Bowl commercial:


Chick-fil-A teased its CowzVR virtual reality promotion:


Absolut promoted its pro-social conscience with a twist of lime — via a red carpet tie-in with singer Santigold, who wore a dress with messages of empowerment, and performer Skylar Grey. As AOL put it, “Santigold will be holding a LED clutch as she takes on music’s biggest night, and the creative accessory will have messages about women’s rights issues scrolling across it. The clutch fits into the larger movement to ‘refresh the talk’ on red carpets these days, making sure to ask women about more than just what they’re wearing.”


The Grammys were plugged by parent the Recording Academy inspired by Taylor Swift’s 2016 acceptance speech to send a message to young girls to pursue their dreams and also teasing James Corden’s hosting gig with a little live carpool karaoke of its own:


The Canadian telecast, meanwhile, included #EatTogether by President’s Choice, Loblaw’s private label food brand (“We’re on a mission to get Canadians to eat together. Because so much good happens when we do.”):

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