Emotion Is More than a Notion: The Full-Brained Approach to Market Artists/Bands


Whether it is with my advertising clients, or via my music clients here at Gracie Management, I use a three-pronged brain approach to tackle marketing problems. What does that mean? It means we look to engage audiences on rational, emotional and reptilian levels. But how are each areas of the brain different and how do they impact marketing?

The reptilian brain is the oldest part of our brain, and it is the part of our brain in which our instinctual side comes out as we think about things such as how to survive, food, sexual activity and reproduction, security, etc. I usually ask clients to think about political advertising in the US, such as Hillary Clinton’s “3 AM” to win the Texas primary in 2008 (see here) or Lyndon Johnson’s “Daisy” ad from the 1965 campaign (see here) as prime examples. Both ads directly appealed to our fear of a lack of security, and do not require the brain to put much cognitive thought into the overall message. These are ones appealing purely to our reptilian side, and can be highly effective.

But in between the rational and reptilian brain is the all-important emotional brain – which is of most importance when one is thinking about marketing a product as it is at this level than humans make purchase decisions – whether it be which bag of cookies to purchase or a musician’s new album. Unfortunately, most advertising for artists, their albums and the overall brand ends up at a very rational level…Buy our new album for $7.99…see our shows at venue X for $25…and while there is a place for a direct and rational approach, where most artists fail is they don’t build up their actual brand, and it is here, what the band stands for, that is the biggest predictor of in-market success outside of the music itself.

Many brands have done a good job with emotional advertising; one of my favorites is Apple’s “Misunderstood”, which you can see here.

And what about the rational brain? Well, it is overrated to say the least, but it is hard for people, including artists, to move away from this type of communication because it feels so unnatural. And there is a time and place for appealing to one’s rational mind, but it is after you have already engaged your audience emotionally, not before. But here is what I can tell you as someone who has tested many advertising campaigns – the ones that are most successful and have the biggest impact in market are the ones that move people emotionally, something all artists should consider as they are not solely promoting their music, they are also promoting their brand. A great example of appealing to the rational brain, but still having some emotional impact based upon use of color and design is IBM’s “Smart Cities” campaign, which you can see here.

In conclusion, I could talk about this topic for an eternity, but I challenge all artists, marketers and the like to think about how they advertise from all three levels, but understanding that in order to take one from a causal buyer, to a fan, to a fanatic, you need to have a strong emotional pull, and then use the rational advertising to pay off that emotional sentiment. Without it, you may be hot today, but chances people will care 20-30 years down the road is suspect, as most artists who have long successful careers have made the bond at this level with their audience.

Be on the lookout in the upcoming weeks as I analyze various artist campaigns, and how they worked at each level of the brain.



Chasson Gracie

11-Time Award Winning Marketer

Founder and Chief Strategy Officer

email: chasson@graciemgt.com

Phone: (503) 610-8458

Skype: graciemgt