CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/EMI - EMI plans to inject album launch ads with creativity, as Camilla Palmer reports

EMI's decision to look outside its normal roster of agencies to

find one to work on two new television campaigns shows that it wants -

and needs - to look at more creative options in the increasingly

competitive music sector.



Traditionally, ads for CDs have centred around a format of cut snippets

from an artist's video, a soundtrack from the album and a voiceover

informing consumers that the product is available to buy. With the

launch of two albums from two of the company's biggest names, EMI wants

more creativity in its album launches.



The company is in talks with agencies about developing TV campaigns for

Robbie Williams' new Big Band album and the first ever Greatest Hits

compilation from Pink Floyd. Mother, Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy,

Malcolm Moore Deakin Blazye, Farm, Fallon and Soul have all been

contacted so far.



EMI's senior product manager, Paul Fletcher, is reticent to say what the

label is looking for, beyond "something a bit different". "We're not

looking at a mainstream agency for the sake of it - we wanted to see

what kind of ideas they had for launching such big products," he says.

The appointment will not threaten EMI's existing specialist agencies,

Harry Monk, JJ Stereo and Addiction.



So why the move toward a more creative focus? Fletcher admits it may be

time to up the creativity on some of its biggest brands to combat the

encroachment of compilation albums on to the mainstream album

market.



Last year, EMI stuck its neck out with a campaign for a Robbie Williams

album that broke the format by depicting a male fan stepping out to the

star's tunes in the privacy of his own home, aping Williams' penchant

for underpants and air guitar. "There are ways in which we can remind

consumers of the personality of his brand," Fletcher says.



Although winning the project will mean a place on the EMI roster and the

potential to take on more work, some of the agencies involved are not

convinced that creating an ad for two potentially record-breaking albums

is worthwhile. "It's almost like they don't need to advertise - sales

will go through the roof with or without ads," one agency source

says.



Creatively, the opportunity to work on such a project is a gift, those

involved say. "Both these bands are incredibly creative and the chance

to build on that is a fantastic opportunity," Mother's Andy Bellass

says.



Nevertheless, his agency, along with Soul and Fallon, are declining to

put their ideas forward. Bellass says Mother is "just too busy".



Others are wary of being one of a long list of agencies in the line-up

and the high chance of not being chosen to do a project that has a low

budget anyway. EMI may be looking to expand its creative credentials by

choosing work from the cream of adland, but there is no sign of a

significantly increased spend. EMI is thought to have earmarked £500,000 of its £7 million annual budget for the launches, but this

will be shared among the creative work for two 30-second ads and a

longer, promo-style ad featuring the iconic graphics of the Pink Floyd

album covers.



Then there's buying the media space too, which will be by Carat.



On the other hand, whichever agency takes on the brief will be able to

claim a role in launching a likely number one album this Christmas.



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