Translation Enterprises is forging a strategic relationship with Nielsen Holdings that will give marketers insights from cultural influencers.
The venture combines cultural insights drawn from Translation Enterprises’ database of some 600,000 musicians who upload to its UnitedMasters distribution platform and their fans via direct research and social-listening techniques. For Nielsen, access to what moves the culture-movers will help marketers connect beyond audience demographics and reach into their passions.
“Music is certainly an eye into the soul, it certainly defines who you are,” said Matt Krepsik, global head of analytics at Nielsen. “Our heritage has always been around building these great, giant segments across age and gender. You have to dive deep in the soul and devise things that connect us, the things that bind us. We want to look at who are the trendsetters, who is the kid in the audience holding up a phone and taking a video. These are the people on the bleeding edge, who are shaping trends and driving culture.”
Translation Enterprises, which encompasses UnitedMasters and the Translation marketing agency, is run by Steve Stoute, who helped launch the careers of Will Smith, Nas and Mary J. Blige in the 1990s. He left a career running labels at Interscope Geffen A&M Records and Sony Music to apply his instinct for what is bubbling up in the culture to brand marketers. Translation agency clients include the NBA, NBA2K, the New York Knicks and programs for Budweiser and State Farm.
More recently Stoute and team started to formally package instinct by creating quantifiable research tools. UnitedMasters artists are surveyed to get a sense of what is moving them, and their insights are creating data points to direct marketers toward cultural relevance.
“We have an entire ecosystem around artists and fans that allows us the opportunity to glean those insights,” said Stoute.
This led to connecting with David Kenny, the CEO of Nielsen Holdings. “He is someone I have known and respected for 12 years,” said Stoute. “I told him what we were working on and we have been working together the last eight months, through the entire pandemic, on rolling out these tools that are so important to advertisers today.”
Cultural relevance is a term that popped up repeatedly in conversations with Krepsik and Stoute. For a brand to be relevant to culture, it needs to recognize the mindsets that join seemingly diverse groups instead of census-style demographics.
Stoute used the example of how advertisers do not understand how a 17-year-old white kid in Connecticut, a Black kid in Compton and a Hispanic kid in Miami share a lot in common. “There is a general white ad buy, an African-American buy and a Hispanic buy,” he said. “This isn’t even real. It is a legacy approach.”
From his years running UnitedMasters and creating ads for the NBA, he saw the parallels. “These three different audiences come together all loving the NBA, loving LeBron James,” he said. “They all bought the same sneakers [and] liked the same artists, down to the exact song. Fashion, music and sports are something they are aligned with. You take those insights, put that to the scale and depth that Nielsen has and you have created a new phenomenon to market to those values that are culturally relevant to that audience.”
The Nielsen/Translation Enterprises collaboration will start with custom research and cultural insights to help marketers target and reach these audiences, with tools to measure results underway.
While the Nielsen offering will quantify insights, Stoute’s innate understanding of the culture runs deep. He wrote the book, The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy, which was later turned into a VH1 multi-part documentary. He also appeared on HBO’s series, The Black List Project.