The harmonious synergy of brands and artists

The harmonious synergy of brands and artists


Pakistan’s recording industry has seen a buoyant resurrection as more companies collate their brand with the world of music

The harmonious synergy of brands and artists

What used to be getting one collaboration per year courtesy of Pepsi in the ‘90s has now evolved into a completely new world for audio branding. The world has seen an explosion of sound identities across brands and markets globally and Pakistan is finally catching up with it.

Always an intrinsic element of any advertising campaign, music has come centre stage as an effective means of promoting a brand. Studies have shown that the part of the brain that processes music is the same that is responsible for emotions and memory. It makes sense that brands wishing to create a positive impression of their entity would try to collaborate with well-liked musicians to benefit from the positive associations. But it takes creativity to cut through the noise and Pakistan now has various platforms that give the artists a chance to showcase their creativity with no strings attached. And this very creative freedom has, in a way, revived and revitalised the music industry in Pakistan – for good!

With Coke Studio being one of the biggest art exports from Pakistan to the world, it was conceived in 2008 by Rohail Hyatt and, 14 years down the line, has amassed millions of fans not just in the country but also internationally.

The Wall Street Journal claims, that in July 2010, Coke claimed 35% of all cola sales in Pakistan. Furthermore, in 2012, Coca-Cola experienced a 23% volume growth in Pakistan and its Pakistan arm earned over Rs.50 billion in revenues for the financial year ending on June 30, 2012. Nevertheless, there is no doubt about Coke Studio’s major role in simultaneously introducing new music and their brand to the younger population of the country.

Today, smartphones and streaming services allow us to engage with music anytime, anywhere. Music has become a daily part of our lives, and evolving technology continues to change the way we consume and discover music. Music fans are increasingly tuning into playlists for music discovery, a trend brought on by the streaming era. Music streaming services today, like Spotify and YouTube Music, give listeners the opportunity to find new artists through stations developed by taste-predicting algorithms and playlists curated by people. As our music libraries grow, so do the opportunities to connect with people on a more meaningful level. And that’s where the brands come in. Music’s power to connect extends beyond bonding people together, it can be tied to a moment in time; to a feeling; to a place; and, yes, to a brand. If a brand wants to send a signal to their target audience that they understand them and are like them, there is no better way than through the music that they love.


Following the footsteps of Coca Cola came various music platforms including Nescafe Basement, Velo Studio, Kashmir Beats, Bisconni Music, Cornetto Pop Rock, Cornetto Music Icons, it even brought back the reality show Pepsi Battle of Bands in an attempt to promote the band culture that we had long abandoned.

And this is a global phenomenon – back in 2020, tech-giant Samsung signed the K-pop band BTS as their brand ambassadors for the Galaxy S20 which earned them a whopping 23% jump in profits despite the pandemic. The brand took their bestselling single Dynamite and associated it with their smartphone. Still soaring high on profits, the brand then went on to stick with the Korean Pop Icons, now associating their chart-topping single, Butter, to the Galaxy Flip Z. McDonald’s too, witnessed a 40.5% year-on-year sales boost in the second quarter thanks to a new meal collaboration that featured the band was called ‘the BTS Meal.’ These are perfect examples of how brands are now capturing their target audiences.

Audio branding triggers an emotional response that paves way for meaningful discussion, and becomes something that is shared organically (and, sometimes, even virally). The biggest example – every time Coke Studio drops a new song, it accounts for plenty of foreigners reacting to the music. It also starts a debate online, making the song and the brand a top trend on social media platforms – whether the criticism is harsh or good, it still gets people to listen to the song.

The fashion industry isn’t too far behind either, they too have allowed the music to take centre stage using musicians, and their music, as “live mannequins,” they often opt for the ‘it’ couples of the industry, one singing and the other walking the ramp, and it works! The biggest example – The cute exchange between Asim Azhar and Hania Aamir at FPW’19, people barely noticing anything except the interaction between the two and most of us can even recall the monochromatic red attire that she donned. Brands like Sana Safinaz who took on board Shuja Haider’s vocals and Asim Jofa who welcomed Asim Azhar, Farhan Saeed and now Zeb Bangash and Ahmed Jahanzeb, have also revolutionised the way lawn is presented, instead of spending their budget on printed catalogues, the brands decided to take a new route featuring a theme song with grand visuals and people loved it!

A two-way road


Up until this moment, the focus has been on how music influenced brand strategies, but it’s a two-way street. In a country like Pakistan, these brand sponsorships have taken Pakistani music to a whole new level making it more accessible to a larger and global audience. Artists who were previously holding back their creative ideas due to the lack of funds, opportunities and the nature of their work being experimental are now fearlessly executing their ideas which have opened up a completely new dimension for the music industry. These ventures have also brought to light the abundance of talent that the country possesses, while Coke Studio featured established and popular artists initially, it did catapult lesser-known talent to success which includes Meesha Shafi, Gul Panra, Momina Mustehsan, Zeb and Hanya among others.

Nescafe Basement on the other hand gave the youth a chance to exhibit their talent. Since its debut in 2012, Nescafe Basement has discovered some of the most promising music talents of the country and provided musicians with an amazing platform and opportunity to become successful artists.

In 2014, the band Soch performed their original song Awari in the first season of Nescafe Basement which was later picked up by Indian director Mohit Suri for his movie Ek Villain in 2014 and went on to become a global hit. Abdullah Siddiqui, a powerhouse of talent who rose to fame with his original called Resistance, now having worked on Coke Studio season 14 and producing the PSL anthem this year, has come a long way. Another artist who went viral globally for her powerful vocals was the 8-year-old Hadiya Hashmi.

Cornetto Music Icons discovered a lot of great Pakistani musicians, like Natasha Baig and Zamad Baig in 2013, making it one the biggest talent hunts of the year.

Pepsi Battle of Bands introduced the country to an array of talented bands including Fawad Khan-led EP, Mizmaar and Mekaal Hasan Band after its first season in 2002. The program that was brought back to life in 2017, with a third season in 2018, gave us bands like Kashmir, Bayaan, AUJ, Badnaam, E-Sharp, Madlock and Xarb.

With that being said, it is pertinent to mention that these brands have managed to bring a diverse range of artists within Pakistan into the mainstream media. This two-way road between companies and Pakistan’s music industry is successfully aiding in the revival of Pakistan’s lost music and talent and because it benefits both the brands, artists and the music industry, it speaks volumes on how the industry is better off with the collaborations as opposed to relying on the already-limited resources that the country has for budding artists.

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