Jeremy Gershfeld The Quartet ApproachJudy Franks The Marketing Democracy

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has
a marketing solution for the recession?

By Jeremy Gershfeld, The Quartet Approach and Judy Franks, The Marketing Democracy

Jeremy Gershfeld and Judy Franks have collaborated to discover how the genius of Mozart’s music can influence integrated marketing. Their work revealed the troubling sounds of our marketing mistakes, which can have an especially big impact in these critical economic times. Establishing a remarkable innovation in integrated marketing communication (IMC) training, Franks and Gershfeld created a listening experience that compares the sounds of “old school marketing” ...where one medium is “king” and integrated marketing where all the channels work together. Franks/Gershfeld’s innovation actually dates back to the 18th century Viennese court and how Mozart forever changed the way people listened to music.

Franks, founder and president of The Marketing Democracy, a consultancy that enables marketers to bridge the creative / media divide met Jeremy Gershfeld while participating in Gershfeld’s The Quartet Approach session in 2008. Gershfeld created The Quartet Approach as a means for facilitating a learning process about talent integration and innovation within organizations and beyond. While participating in The Quartet Approach session, Franks was struck by how each player’s role within the quartet served different but equally important roles. When put together, the group created a whole greater than the sum of its parts. After The Quartet Approach session concluded, Franks mentioned to Gershfeld her insight about this connection to media channel planning. They discussed how a Mozart quartet might illustrate channel planning at its best, especially in times of recession. Franks asked Gershfeld what channel planning in a recession might sound like.

In the 18th century, business as usual was whatever pleased Emperor of Austria. This happened to be one solo “king” instrument accompanied by a few background players. Sound familiar? For years, marketers have been “composing” marketing strategies around a “king” instrument: in our case, television. As long as the rich benefactor was paying that’s the kind of music that was performed. The public didn’t particularly care for this music; they wanted something more compelling.

Enter Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a creative genius who pioneered sophisticated integration in his music. Mozart understood that each instrument plays a critical role: instead of relegating one to “king”and the others to “background” status, he integrated the channels. He made the whole compelling by creating interest in how the roles worked together. By using the budget he was given, whether great or small, the impact of the voices he integrated together was far greater than any one dominant voice.

Franks remarked to Gershfeld, “In tough times, marketers tend to rely on the “king” medium. Often, they try to make their television spot carry the entire effort. What would that sound like?”

Gershfeld: “I’ll play the whole quartet’s music with one violin.”
Franks: “Very often a budget cut will hit mid-stream, and marketers are forced to cancel all they can to put resources toward the bottom-line.”
Franks: “Sometimes we convert messaging to shorter copy lengths (aka converting :30’s tv spots to :15’s) and smaller ad units to conserve funds.”
Franks: “Clearly, these options do not leave us remotely satisfied. How can that possibly work in the marketplace?”


“Mozart would integrate the mediums, one voice at a time. He would write conversation into his music. By listening to one voice, you to want to hear what the others have to say. Everything becomes important, even with less‚ you can hear it by listening to him build the quartet, first with a solo violin.”

Gershfeld: “Then you hear the Cello response.
Franks: “What if we put the violin and cello together?”
Franks: “Something is still missing.”
Gershfeld: “Yes, the structure is missing, which is the second violin and viola.
They provide rhythm and harmony to tie it all together.
Gershfeld: “Now you understand how the group works together.”

Listening to Mozart build this quartet as an integrated conversation illuminates the potency of integrated marketing communication (IMC). With financial resources in scarce supply, we cannot underestimate how the integration of channels not only compensates for budget shortfalls but also provide a superior marketing model.

Mozart’s Lessons for IMC
Franks and Gershfeld draw parallels between Mozart’s transformation of the classical quartet with the marketing transformation taking place today. They offer an in-depth exploration of 5 valuable lessons from Mozart that reflect and reinforce the IMC experience and challenge the marketing “ establishment” :

Lesson One: One instrument (medium) cannot replace the other. Each medium carries a unique role in a rich and dynamic conversation. This thinking presents a great challenge to conventional marketing wisdom that is quick to abandon one channel in favor of another.

Lesson Two: Composition is not a matter of budget. Even at the most modest budget, the piece must represent all the voices. This challenges marketing budget allocations by channel and advocates for a zero-based approach where all media are funded at the most basic level of marketing spend.

Lesson Three: A conversation is not a monologue or even a brand dialogue. A conversation holds many voices that can add dimension, depth, and harmony to a piece. This learning revolutionizes the approach to media mix: the idea that a lead medium can “push” out a brand monologue masked as a :30 commercial to consumers is as obsolete as the composers (before Mozart) who wrote for only the lead violin.

Lesson Four: What sounds pleasing to the benefactor may be completely “out of tune” with the public. Beware the master you serve: understand how your desired audience engages with various marketing and media channels. Keep your brand compositions contemporary and pleasing to their tastes, even if your “benefactor” does not quite understand.

Lesson Five: Integrated compositions require a new way to score the music. Marketers must embrace a whole new way of working across disciplines to create a truly integrated marketing plan. This requires a new score: the integrated brief becomes the sheet music that guides a multi-channel conversation.

Franks and Gershfeld are available to present keynote addresses and workshops, with or
without a live professional string quartet.

© 2009, Jeremy Gershfeld and Judy Franks.
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