So, this past Sunday, we all watched the 60th Annual Grammy Awards because, obviously, what else would we be doing? With James Corden hosting, this night was bound to be a cute, wholesome, chuckle-filled night. On top of all that excitement, it seemed to be the year of R&B and Hip/Hop, with 4 of the 5 nominations for Album of the Year and Song of the Year categorized in those genres. Bruno Mars basically cleared house, winning Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Album of the Year. The first award of the night went to Rihanna and Kendrick Lamar for Best Rap/Sung Performance, and after that, the awards for Hip/Hop and R&B were flowing. On top of all of this, (wow, what a night) the R&B and Hip/Hop performances were amazing. From Childish Gambino to SZA to Bruno Mars and Cardi B to Rihanna, Bryson Tiller and DJ Khaled, every artist gave it their all and it was a truly magical night.
However, who was the big winner here? Who got the most exposure, who got the most attention, who took advantage of the Grammys as a platform? Some will say Childish Gambino for his last hurrah, some will say Bruno Mars as he got all the awards, some will say Kesha because that performance was incredible, and some will even say Reba McIntire as KFC’s Colonel Sanders because that was an amazing commercial, okay. However, I will argue that out of everyone, Apple won the Grammys. Now, I know this sounds like “oh here we go again, more crap about Apple”, but hear me out.
Apple was the biggest sponsor for the Grammys and believe me, they took full advantage of it. Even against the artists themselves, the name that stuck with me was Apple. It wasn’t Bruno Mars, it wasn’t SZA (even though that GAP commercial was…interesting), and it wasn’t any other brand. It was Apple, as a sponsor, as a product, as a key player in this night. Not only did Carpool Karaoke, now an Apple Music show, get its own segment because of James Corden, but all clips and extras of the Grammys were advertised as exclusively watchable on Apple Music. WHAT? That is wild. For the first time ever, a streaming service took full advantage of their platform to become fully integrated as a companion with the networks. Do you know what this does? This opens the door for music streaming services to start taking a stronger hold on awards shows. Instead of the Grammys jumping from CBS to NBC to ABC, we could be entering an era where the Grammys jump from Apple Music to Spotify and then to Amazon (screw Tidal, I don’t even count it). That could be the beginning of a whole new ball game. My guess is that this is making the networks nervous.
Apple also spent the money for the ad space. They had a commercial in almost every break, taking 60 second spots. Just for some perspective, in 2016, a 30 second spot cost $954,000 – just imagine how much a spot at double the time and 2 years later would cost. We’re looking at a cost in the millions. But these 60 second spots were perfect. The two spots consist of Animojis singing “Redbone” by Childish Gambino and “Stir Fry” by Migos. The reasons I praise this is because one, these songs are so relevant to the Grammys. They knew who would be watching, they knew their audience and even better, they played the Childish Gambino spot right after his performance. Two, these were a great way to showcase Animoji. They were fun to watch and they were crafted in a way where a commercial seamlessly blended into a music video. They did something that Target, with their Zedd X Marin Morris spot, couldn’t – they integrated music in a way that it made sense. I would say Target’s spot, as usual, was a little off base. Last year, Carly Rae Jepsen and Lil’ Yachty did a spot together and it was laughable. You couldn’t tell if it was a joke or if they did it with a purpose, not a good question for your target audience to ponder. Target has really fun, colorful commercials, mostly for their clothes, and that cute little dog. But when they do these music spots, it looks severely out of place. The Apple spots came in with purpose, they were insanely entertaining, and they kept up with the high aesthetical standard of Apple – in other terms, they are very on brand.
With all of these outlets that Apple was able to have their name on, I will say that Apple came out on top, in terms of views, clicks, and brand engagement. Apple was able get out in front of every other brand, and I’m going to include the artists themselves here. Apple used to lead the way in brand engagement but has had a few missteps recently. The Grammy telecast showed that they still know how to lead. I don’t know if I was the only one that noticed this, but I thought it was an amazing spectacle of where the future of broadcasting awards can go. Who’s ready for a music streaming service to present an awards show? I certainly am!