5 things Eurovision can teach us about marketing

Eurovision marketing

1. Dare to be different

Since the Eurovision format was changed in 2004, it’s become a hugely competitive event. 43 countries have entered this year’s contest, and plenty of decent songs will fall by the wayside before the final itself. Just reaching the big event is now a victory, and even 7-time winners Ireland failed to get past the semi-finals between 2014 and 2017.

Among the standard Eurobangers and hi-NRG pop last year, gentle jazz-inflected ballad Amor pelos dois really stood out for Portugal. The result? After six decades of trying, the country won the contest for the very first time.

In a competitive environment you have to be prepared to stand out to be noticed. Chances are you don’t remember last year’s UK entry, but you do probably recall the Russian grannies, the Moldovans with the huge pointy hats, or even the skirt-ripping antics of our own Bucks Fizz when they won the contest in 1981.

Lesson: Be prepared to be different and to stand out from your competitors

2. Make sure people understand you

If your customers don’t understand your proposition, product or service then it’s unlikely that they will engage with you. It’s vital that you talk to your audience in a language that they will understand.

Speak in Polish and you’ll talk to that market. Speak in English and you potentially have a global market of people who might be interested in what you have to say.

Over the years, the songs that have talked to a wide audience have been the most successful. 16 of the last 18 winners have sung their song in English, and that includes entries from countries as varied as Azerbaijan, Germany, Ukraine and Austria. In the last four years, 18 of the top 20 scoring songs have been in English.

Lesson: Speak to your audience in language they understand

3. Speak in an authentic voice

If you aren’t honest, and you don’t speak to people in an authentic voice, you will be found out. So, don’t try and be all things to all people, and just concentrate on what you’re good at.

Last year, Romania sent the song Yodel It to Eurovision. It combined a decent enough Script-esque pop song with some quite frantic yodelling, although it’s main problem was that yodelling isn’t actually a thing in Romania. A Eurovision audience didn’t buy it, and it never troubled the leaderboard.

Similarly, back in the mid-2000s the UK was hardly the centre of rap music. That didn’t stop us sending Daz Sampson (and the less said about that, the better).

Lesson: Talk to your customers in an authentic voice. Don’t be something you’re not

4. Be memorable

Songs that win Eurovision are generally the catchy and memorable ones. If you’re singing along with the chorus of a song you’ve only heard once, the chances are it will feature strongly in the running at the end of the night.

Considering that you only get three minutes to get the whole of Europe voting for you, it’s vital that you come up with something memorable. Alexander Rybak’s Fairytale won in 2009 and is one of the catchiest tracks you’ll hear. Think also of previous winners from Brotherhood of Man through Abba to the brilliant Bobbysocks’ Le det swinge from 1985, and it’s clear that being memorable is key to success.

The way you present your message can also be memorable. Mans Zelmerlow’s Heroes was not the best song in the 2015 contest, but it was helped to victory by some amazing staging and the help of some animated stick people. Lordi romped to a record points score back in 2006 wearing face masks and singing a hard rock anthem.

This year, Israel’s Netta is one of the favourites. Her song Toy is catchy enough, but you’ll remember it for the chicken noises, the brightly coloured staging, and the fact she’s joined on stage by hundreds of meniki-neko (Japanese lucky cats). It’s certainly memorable.

Lesson: Do something memorable so people remember you

5. Timing is crucial

There’s no point launching a social media campaign in the middle of the night if you want it to go viral. As well as a memorable message, it’s also important to communicate with your audience at the right time.

The last time a Eurovision winner went first in the running order was in 1984. Each of the last 10 winners has appeared 10th or later in the show. The sweet spot is somewhere between 17th and 24th, as Ukraine in 2016 (21st in the order), Denmark in 2013 (18th), Sweden in 2012 (17th), Azerbaijan in 2011 (19th), and Germany in 2010 (22nd) will tell you.

With the public vote playing a huge part in the Eurovision outcome, having your song fresh in a voters’ mind has been hugely important. It’s the same for your message – make sure it’s at the forefront of your customer’s mind at the point they reach the call to action.

Lesson: Make sure you share your message at the right time.

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