The musical Wicked has traveled from Broadway, to the West End and now, after three decades on stage, it is opening to the world via cinematic release later this year.  

Humans have been telling stories through song since time immemorial. Melodies and rhythms have a special power for sticking in our heads, and brands know this better than anyone. Jingles and sonic identities are powerful tools for driving recall and distinctiveness in a noisy world, they offer a long-lasting competitive advantage, at least when done correctly. 

Jingles aren't the only way brands can leverage the magic of memorable melodies.

But jingles aren't the only way brands can leverage the magic of memorable melodies, especially in a year with a fantastic schedule of cinematic musical releases.

Above: This year's release of Wicked shows the staying power and success of the musical genre.

We have already seen a series of musicals make their cinematic debuts. Mean Girls this year and, last year, Wonka amassed an impressive £2.5m in its opening weekend in the UK and Ireland. This, in turn, is building buzz for Wicked, which is due to be released on November 27.  

Brands can tap into these cultural musical moments, as long as they can hit the right notes. Cinema advertising captures audience attention like no other medium, and by mixing in musicals, advertisers can open up a whole new dimension. 

Hitting the right notes

Never underestimate the power of familiarity with a twist. And we should know as we did it ourselves. Ahead of the release of Bohemian Rhapsody in 2019we gave our iconic pa-pah-pa-pah ‘Asteroid’ theme a unique spin courtesy of original Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor. This playful twist surprised audiences a new version of the well-known tune that paired perfectly with the film. 

Brands can tap into these cultural musical moments, as long as they can hit the right notes.

Brands too can leverage the sound and iconic songs from a musical, or indeed a film’s soundtrack, to their advantage. Just look at the re-igniting of Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Murder on the Dancefloor thanks to Saltburn. You know that people will be leaving the cinema humming a certain tune. So, this is the ideal opportunity to leverage this and associate it with a relevant brand or message.

Above: The recent release of Saltburn gave a new lease of life to Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Murder on the Dancefloor.

A whole new world

Another aspect that makes musicals - and film in general - unique to other mediums, is the role of escapism. Many musicals - whether that’s Wicked, The Wizard of Oz, Mamma Mia! or West Side Story - immediately propel you into a brand new, fantasy world, where audiences can forget their everyday lives and escape in the storytelling. With this in mind, brands can build atmosphere and excitement through immersive experiences that bring fans even closer to this feeling and experience.

Brands can build atmosphere and excitement through immersive experiences that bring fans even closer to [a particular] feeling and experience.

Damien Chazelle’s Babylon, set in the hedonistic and glamorous 1920s, last year provided Jaguar and Everyman with the perfect opportunity to collaborate. Pearl & Dean helped create a dazzling, immersive screening event, transporting audiences to the old Hollywood-era indulgence evoked in the film, topped off with tasting experiences, 1920s music and dancers. It also empowered Jaguar to create a memorable experience with its luxury vehicles, chauffeuring VIP guests to and from the venue.

Character building

Many advertisers invest a lot into mascots which create a visual identity for a brand and can help build a stronger connection to the consumer. However, this can be a challenge to launch and then resonate with the target audience. Musical films are based on well-known stories - and characters - that have been on the stage for years - sometimes even decades. They have their own established fan bases who are ready to embrace their favourite characters when they hit the big screen. 

Above: Last year's smash hit Barbie was a branding boon for many brands. 

Partnering with a film can give brands access to these characters. Just look at the success that Barbie had for brands, with companies such as Boots harnessing the character, in this instance to help educate customers about sun protection in the summer. Meanwhile, many other brands had a lot of fun playing with Barbie’s iconic pink branding. Wicked’s anti-hero protagonist, Elphaba Thropp, is well-known for her association with green due to the colour of her skin, so there are ample opportunities for brands to leverage this and get creative with the possibilities with this character and the film’s famous green branding.

Wicked pitch of the West (End) 

Musicals and melodies are powerful mediums for making memories, and this power is increased tenfold when combined with cinema. As musicals move onto the big screen, brands have the opportunity to craft tailored, creative work which embeds a brand in the unique magic of a musical. 

Brands have the opportunity to craft tailored, creative work.

And, if these cinematic releases enjoy similar success to their stage shows, brands can forge a long-lasting association that drives long-term results as much as short term impact.