Friday, April 20, 2012

Three Marketing Lessons From Dick Clark

As someone who grew up with American Bandstand, Dick Clark’s daily TV music dance party, I feel a loss at the passing of this great legend. Dick Clark turned a generation of teenagers on to the latest music and launched many musicians’ careers.

clip_image002[4]While it might seem that Dick Clark’s fame is linked largely to an era gone by (alongside our love of The Beatles, the Jackson 5 and Chubby Checker), there are some timeless marketing lessons that can be taught from Clark’s brilliant career.

1. Host the party. Dick Clark brought us the fun, rather than creating the music. Products, tastes and fashions will change, but the person or brand that brings you the enduring benefit (in this case fun and dancing) stands forever. Dick Clark naturally went on to produce the American Music Awards, host syndicated top 40 countdowns, TV shows and is still known today for hosting our biggest party of the year - Rockin’ New Years Eve.

2. Tie your brand to mass media – while the dominance of network TV in the 1960s – 1980s was very different than today’s media landscape, as shows like American Idol demonstrate, there is still power in broad reach media. It’s a watch out for marketers moving too far into conversational and targeted social formats, which have not yet convincingly delivered audiences for big brands.


3. Test everything and let the consumer decide – American Bandstand showcased several new songs each week and let the audience rate the song -- live on the air. Dick would play a song, let the teenagers dance, then ask two or three kids to rate the song. They would give it a number and say whether a song was “danceable” and had a “good beat”, making or breaking a hit record in a moment. What a great research technique for the record companies (not a projectable sample size, of course, but millions of kids were listening at the same time and making their own choices). While the more freestyle, album-oriented music of the late 70s didn’t exactly fit this format, all the major bands would still show up to launch a hit record.

We will miss Dick Clark, but his lessons in marketing might just be timeless.


Jim Matorin said...

Having written my thesis on the music industry, I am not sure I agree with the test everything concept. The music industry's profitability was diminished with that strategy since 1 out of 1 bands made it back in the day. That meant the 9 failures ate into the profits of the one winner. More selectivity vs. throwing up against the wall would be my recommendation. Besides how many initiatives can a company truly test/implement.

Bob Clark said...

Hey Jim. I agree that testing music kinda turns art into a popularity contest where the artists pay the price. In other categories though, the concept of getting fast feedback can be very efficient.