Music & Brands

Music & Brands #1 with Albert-Jan

Published on September 12 by RA*W

with Albert-Jan Steendam

In each episode, we feature a different talent (from the RA*W community), focusing on their musical influences and connection to brands. How do young talents in the creative industry perceive music and sound in advertising and branding? Which brands do they admire? And, of course, we want to know who their favorite artist is.

In this episode: Albert-Jan Steendam, Content Manager at UM Netherlands.

Who are you, and what do you do?
I am Albert-Jan Steendam, 30 years old, and reside in Amsterdam. I’m a fan of sports, cinematography, and gastronomy. In the past, I was active in the music industry, which led to my close involvement in various events. I have been working at UM as a content manager for the past few years. I am partly responsible for developing and executing innovative and creative media concepts in this role.

"I admire brands that
serve a social purpose"

Which brand do you admire and why?
I admire brands that serve a social purpose, such as the Oranje Fonds, KiKa, and Alzheimer-Nederland. These non-profit brands are dedicated to making the world better without hidden agendas. In the case of most major brands, integrity, and transparency often seem lacking to me. This was recently evident with Patagonia when our praises had to be put away due to a scathing article by Follow The Money. Yet, some brands are doing things right, like Michelob Ultra. The American brewery recently introduced the ‘Dreamcaster.’ It’s an incredible campaign where a brewer developed technology that allowed a blind person to provide commentary for an NBA basketball game. Pioneering, entertaining, and at the same time, inspiring.

When you think of your favorite brand – if it had a theme song, what would it be?
The song ‘She’s Got You’ by Patsy Cline resonates well with Alzheimer Nederland. It’s an emotional and human song that aligns with Alzheimer Nederland’s philosophy, emphasizing humanity at its core.

"A strong musical identity fosters recognition and, at the same time, helps consumers identify with a brand."

Which brand (national or international) distinguishes itself by embracing the use of music? Do you have an example of a campaign that demonstrates this?
When I think of Karwei, I still remember the ‘Mystery Repeats’ jingle by Pete Philly & Perquisite. This campaign is now 15 years old.

Recently, I came across the ‘Class of 23’ campaign by Zalando, Het Buro, and Hammerfest. It’s a campaign where various young talents express their sound and style in a music video set in a cipher setting. The video is linked to a special Zalando website and published on the Top Notch channel. This is truly distinctive work that adds value for both young talents and consumers.

Zeeman previously created a similar campaign supported by fan-favorite Hef. As part of the SKEER campaign, Hef created the special song “S.K.E.E.R.” These are campaigns where a strong connection between music and lifestyle is established.

A strong musical identity fosters recognition and, at the same time, helps consumers identify with a brand. I appreciate seeing large international brands increasingly use young and local artists as ambassadors.

A great tip for rainy workdays: Check out this 4-hour-long YouTube ad from Nissan. The entire video features an animation of a woman driving a Nissan ARIYA with a Lofi soundtrack playing in the background. It’s gained quite a following, with 18 million views already. It sounds like a perfect way to create a relaxing atmosphere and enjoy creative content during those rainy days!

"Music strongly contributes to creating and revisiting memories, which is why it works well for brands."

What is your favorite artist/band? Can you explain why?
That’s a difficult question. Can you have a favorite artist when there are so many different genres and great choices? If I chose, I would go with Outkast. They played a significant role in the rise of hip-hop. They also experimented a lot with different genres like funk, jazz, and techno. I listen to all these genres, and Outkast’s music brings them together.

If you compared that artist or band to a brand, what brand would that be?
I would compare Outkast to The North Face. Outkast and The North Face are pioneering brands that garner admiration from diverse groups. They are both brands that dare to think outside the box and cater to a wide range of audiences without losing their identity. They are innovative yet authentic.

Which song takes you back to a certain moment in your life? What moment is that, and why is that song so connected?
The song “Lithium” by Nirvana always takes me back to my younger years. Not so much because of the lyrics, which are quite dark, but the period when I used to listen to this song was very exciting: high school, watching The Sopranos for the first time, my first girlfriend, feeling like you have a lot of worries and yet living a carefree life. Music strongly contributes to creating and revisiting memories, which is why it works well for brands.