A novel new campaign built around this Sunday’s ARIA Awards is turning international musicians, celebrities and punters into walking billboards for Australia’s finest.
The Droga5 agency’s CEO Sudeep Gohil dreamed up the project, which asks music fans to show their support by wearing a t-shirt of an Australian artist and posting it across their social networks, with the hastag #unitedbymusic.
The likes of Usher, Roger Sanchez and One Republic’s Ryan Tedder have bought into the spirit of the campaign by donning shirts for ARIA-nominated artists Empire of the Sun and Matt Corby. Regulars from the Today Show have done the same.
Should it catch on, the ARIAs festivities will be a sea of Aussie band-shirts.
“The idea behind the campaign was, ‘how do we take the love of Australian music and demonstrate it?’ The t-shirt that you wear says a lot about you, and the band you’re representing,” notes Gohil. “We knew we could find international artists who liked (an Australian artist) enough to wear their t-shirt. And we’ve got that whole cultural thing here when Australian things are big overseas we’re even more likely to back them. So how can we use that to our advantage? That was the beginning of the conversation.”
That early conversation began after last year’s ARIAs. Gohil caught the show and was pleased with what he saw. But it could do much more. A dire tabloid review the following day had Gohil reaching for the phone to his long-time friend and ARIA CEO Dan Rosen. The chat went a little like, “if you ever need some help getting people, getting the brand back to where it should be… we should chat,” Gohil recalls. It was “a conversation over a love of music that brought the whole thing to fruition.”
Notes Rosen, ARIA CEO: “We needed a simple idea, something that would get Aussie pride flowing. The truth is that our music is really loved around the world and there’s no bigger form of flattery than when your heroes and fans give you recognition.”
Asking a premier-league international artist to wear a Tame Impala shirt, photograph himself and share it with the world is the stuff pipedreams are made of. A fast-track to reality happened when talent agency William Morris Endeavor bought a 49% stake in Droga5 back in July. The relationship provides Droga5 access to the agency’s stellar cast. Droga5 shipped boxes of shirts to WME’s affiliates in London, New York and L.A. Each of the managers in the offices then scanned the goods in their weekly meetings, and the Australian ad agency communicated with the music department in each of the offices, who then spoke to the relevant artists.
Was it a hard sell to get the international to wear an Aussie band shirt? “No. It wasn’t, to be honest. Australian music is actually pretty good and a lot of people really love it,” explains Gohil. “That’s what inspired us. It’s almost more popular in parts overseas than it is in our own backyard. That was what we were saying…people should love Australian music more in this country.”
All the photos are loaded into ARIA’s official Band Tee Archive and displayed across ARIA properties through the ARIA week, which wraps-up December 4.
A retail angle has emerged with David Jones and Marcs which propels the project into the mainstream. Under the strapline “United By Music, United In Style,” the Marcs chain has created an exclusive line of commemorative band t-shirts, inspired by the lyrics in songs by Birds of Tokyo, The Presets, Bliss N Eso, Emma Louise and The Rubens.
“What we’re trying to do is raise the profile of Australian music in general,” explains Gohil. “So we’ll build on it. There’s a much bigger conversation about celebrating Australian music. That’s another part of what we’re looking at doing next year. This campaign is the tip of the iceberg.”