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Brands blur line between ads and music

Mumbai, Oct. 20: If it’s a song, then why does the babe who is singing it break into the Liril jingle so often' And why does it have another cool babe, in a Liril costume, taking the Liril bath, in a Liril waterfall'

Because if Main Zindagi Hoon is a song, it’s also a Liril ad. The Indipop number sung by teenybopper Shweta Pandit is the latest in brand promotion, says Virgin Records, Pandit’s producers. Her album is also called Main Zindagi Hoon, after the title track, sponsored by Hindustan Lever’s Liril.

Brands have invaded the music industry — down in the dumps for two years — in surer, if less obvious, ways. Record companies, desperate for revenue, have come up with “innovative” collaborations with corporates, claiming that they are mutually beneficial.

“There is so much clutter in the ad scene that it’s difficult for a brand to stand out. So when we suggested that we do a song with the Liril jingle in it, the brand agreed,” says Shameer Tandon of Virgin, who has directed the music for the album.

“The number has heralded innovative marketing. For the first time, a jingle has been integrated into a song with no visual branding and no product display. It’s tasteful branding, which goes on to enhance brand salience and also works well for the record label,” he said.

In Main Zindagi Hoon, as Shweta croons “Maana ki maanchali hoon, thodisi main chulbuli hoon...Main zindagi hoon,” her voice dissolves into the famous Liril “la la” and the scene changes to a waterfall in which a girl is dancing and splashing water — though there’s no mention of any brand. The next time Shweta sings the Liril tune, the scene is an “Ice factory”, and a girl in a short two-piece blue and white dress sways to the Liril tune amid blocks of shimmering blue and white ice.

“The waterfall situation is to bring to mind Liril Lime Fresh. The ice factory is for Liril Ice Cool Mint,” says Tandon. Liril has also run a contest on television on which of their brands the song reminds them of.

He calls it “audio-branding”, as opposed to “video-branding”, which would display a product directly. Like the pair of boots from Liberty Shoes in the new version of the Kishore Kumar song Musafir Hoon Yaaron sung by Shaan, in which the boots are handed down from father to son, son to servant, servant to beggar.

“In times of recession in the entertainment industry, these are the legitimate sources of revenue to promote new talent,” says Tandon. “It’s difficult to invest in a new find at such times, which is why the market is full of remixes of old songs with a video thrown in,” he says.

“The music industry has been low for a number of reasons,” he says. “There is cassette piracy, digital piracy, high cost of acquisition of music from films and very bad software,” he adds. “There is also competition from FM channels.”

Aveek Mitra of Sa Re Ga Ma also says that these are pressing times for the music industry, but adds he hasn’t thought of such sponsorship.

The patrons of classical music, too, are changing.

Recently at designer Satya Paul’s fashion show, models catwalked to live music by flute maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia and a dhrupad recital by Wasifuddin Dagar.

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