News — September 17, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Linking Music + Brands with BrandBeat


Traditional marketing is, in some ways, rather obsolete in our global and connected societies. To remedy the screen ad option, brands tend to endorse artists or personalities to create original incentives for their consumers and enhance the buying experience. BrandBeat, a new company based in Hong Kong, is developing effective partnerships between brands and music, in a smart and innovative way. Dawn Lanuza had a chat with BrandBeat director, Charlie Toller, and evoked his projects and strategy, and his crush on the Southeast Asian music scene.

Music Weekly: Hi, Charlie! You’ve only been to Hong Kong for 18 months, what were your impressions of it that made you decide on developing Brandbeat?

Charlie Toller: Hello!
I came out from London 2 years ago where music is everywhere, in many ways music plays a central role in people’s lives. Venues, promoters and touring artists from all over the world go to London to create a mosh of creativity – it’s awesome.
Asia is a different place, but it’s clear music is just as important to people here as it is anywhere else. Having travelled across the region and into China, it’s evident people value music and respond to it. Tastes are different as are emerging trends but some of the basic marketing principles behind what I’m doing with BrandBeat still apply anywhere. We work to understand the entertainment space in order to effectively engage audiences. We’ve been exposed to effective forward thinking marketing in the West and are applying it to a market that’s developing rapidly with the apparent challenges for fans to see a full range of live events the digital space perhaps has a bigger potential to experience music.


You seem to always integrate music with your services. How do you think has this helped in setting Brandbeat apart from the other branding/marketing companies in the country or even the region?

Music is the most powerful entertainment property. If it used in the right way it is more effective in creating emotional/meaningful connections than anything else, similarly if its used poorly it can be very damaging from a brand’s perspective. We’re heavily focused on consumer insight and trends in music because this is what we think holds real value.
We’re being asked to do things that don’t involve music but involve our strategic approach to content creation and media. Our regional talent network is unique, in my view very few people over in this part of the world genuinely understand how content works and how it interacts with social media, maybe that’s why clients tend to enjoy the way we approach things. We try to use young film people who shoot things in engaging and fun ways also – cool talented young people who have been jumping off buildings with go pros for the last few years. This coupled with our strong ties with rights owners both here and in Europe means we’re able to deliver a lot more to brands in terms of our reach.


How does Brandbeat involve local bands? How has the public generally responded to your projects?

In truth we’ve had some real successes, and in some ways I think we could’ve done better. In Hong Kong we’ve worked with some great local talent like Noughts and Exes, Poubelle International, Jing Wong and one of my favourites Dada Baba. There are lot’s more artists and djs that we feel we’ve had a good bond with and we will continue to work with local artists if it works with the client’s focus and is a relevant fit. One point to make is that there aren’t a huge amount of local bands, the ones that there are often get used a great deal, the danger of this is that brands and artists will not be able to define themselves, and that’s very important.
I think the public have enjoyed what we’ve done in the space and it’s helped them engage with our clients brands better. Some of the shows we did at Jack Wills weren’t very busy initially , but thanks to the brands genuine grassroots support of music in HK we developed some momentum over time, the young guys and girls on their way home from school started to realise it’s ok to smile and even roll your shoulders a bit. The great thing is we can see how popular things have been online, comments and metrics often make us feel quite proud about what we’re doing.
Obviously there are two ends of the spectrum in terms of local and foreign tastes. For The Upper House in HK there is a real emphasis on international artists given their market is aimed at the affluent, well educated and well travelled. There customer base have been exposed to artists like Thievery Corporation and the added international credibility certainly helps leverage the brand. The crowd at these events have a different way of consuming online content to those elsewhere, and we’ve worked to make the content reflect that. 

Jack Wills event in Hong Kong


There also seems to be some talk about you starting a WebTV with Asian content. Can you give us a little bit more of an idea of what it’s going to be like?

Without sounding too secretive I can’t tell you too much about it. We’re basically lining up content production opportunities with the right people across the region and hope to create an independent channel aggregation platform that curates a high quality content that incorporates a heavy social media element. There are lot’s of obstacles but I’m excited about things for this as I think it could be a really progressive move if we can get the right people all to see value in it.


Now that you’ve gotten more exposure with the local and regional music scene, which Asian bands do you think deserves more recognition?

Good question,
In Hong Kong I’d say Dada Baba but they’re about to leave which isn’t so good. I think HK itself has some way to go but it’s moving real fast in a better direction than previously. Modern Children have a good sound and profile, 9 Maps are good musicians, then there’s rapper MastaMic who’s getting some good traction. Then there is the dance phenomenon which is a very interesting place. HK has some great young DJs, people like Wendy Wenn have been doing well in my eyes.
The Trees and The Wild in Indonesia have some cool videos up although I’ve not seen them. Pet Conspiracy in Beijing seem to be smashing it also, again I need to see them! Promoters seem to be beginning to gel a bit more and starting finding common ground. As things like festivals get off the ground this also presents a wealth of opportunities to local artists and brands, it’s a good time for artists, brands and anyone who likes music.


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  1. Theodorus says:

    nice work.