Since 1956, the Eurovision Song Contest has celebrated the very best – and worst – of European pop music. The contest celebrated its 65th birthday in 2021, where an Edith Piaf-style French chanson and an avant-garde Swiss ballad were pipped to the title by an Italian rock group.
Måneskin became the first band to win Eurovision since the Finnish hard rockers Lordi triumphed in 2006. Meanwhile, at the other end of the scoreboard, the United Kingdom scored the infamous “nul points”, finishing rock bottom for the second contest in a row.
Over the years the contest has launched the career of luminaries such as ABBA, Celine Dion, and Bucks Fizz. It’s also featured some terrible songs, madcap performances, and frankly bizarre stage antics. But, there’s also lots Eurovision can teach you about successful marketing…
1. Speak to people in a language they understand
If you’re writing blog content, posting on social media, or redeveloping your website, it’s important that you talk to your prospects, clients, and professional connections in a language they can understand.
If your message isn’t clear and easily understood, you’ll alienate a large proportion of your audience.
When it comes to music, the global success of artists from the UK and USA mean English is a universal language. 21 of the last 25 winners of Eurovision have sung their song at least partly in English, including winners from nations as diverse as Azerbaijan, Germany, Russia, and Latvia.
When you’re marketing your business, make sure you’re talking in the same language as your audience.
Of course, sometimes the music does the talking. Most of the 2021 TV audience had no clue what Zitti e buoni was about (no, it wasn’t about pasta) but that didn’t stop it winning.
2. Concentrate on what you’re good at
One of the things you’ll have heard us talk a lot about is establishing the types of client that you want to work with before devising a marketing strategy. Creating client personas, and carefully thinking about what sort of prospect you want, is key to targeting your approach.
You might want to work with business owners, people approaching retirement, or younger clients in good jobs. Whatever your target audience, it’s important to concentrate on what you’re good at.
Sweden has a terrific recent record at Eurovision because they are great at choosing a proper pop banger. You don’t see them sending weird folk music, heavy metal, or jazz. They spend weeks using TV heats to choose a universally popular hit song. Think Loreen’s Euphoria or Mans Zelmerlow’s Heroes.
If you start pretending to be something you’re not, people will see through you.
Getting American megastar Flo Rida to guest on little San Marino’s entry Adrenalina in 2021 might have looked like a good idea in a meeting, but the audience didn’t buy it and it finished 22nd, 25 points behind a Norwegian man wearing enormous wings.
3. Make sure you stand out
Many people tune into Eurovision on a Saturday night without realising that the competition has been going on all week. This year, 39 countries turned up in Rotterdam, with 13 of them eliminated before Graham Norton welcomed you to the main event on Saturday night.
Excellent entries from Croatia – the catchy Tick-Tock – and a fantastic 80s style dance banger from Denmark failed to make it past the semi-final, and even seven-time winners Ireland fell at the first hurdle this year.
In such a competitive event, you have to do something that gets you noticed (this is one of the theories behind the UK’s poor performance in 2021 – it was by no means the worst song, but it did have some incredibly forgettable staging).
So, pushing the boundaries, trying something new, and daring to be different can really help you to stand out. This is as true for your marketing as it is for the Eurovision stage.
Think back to the winners you can recall. Bucks Fizz and their famous “ripping off the skirt routine”. ABBA turning up in Brighton looking like they had beamed down from another planet. Conchita Wurst – Austria’s “bearded lady” – owning the stage as huge, fiery wings appeared behind her.
Of course, there is a risk. Francesco Gabbani turned up on stage in 2017 and sang Occidentali’s Karma while someone in a gorilla costume danced next to him. He came sixth.
4. Timing is crucial
There’s no point deploying your brand-new retirement guide on social media in the middle of the night. As well as speaking to your audience in terms they understand, you also have to communicate with your audience at the right time.
You have to go back to 1984 for the last time the song that went first at Eurovision won the event (it was The Herreys’ ridiculous Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley, if you’re interested). The song that goes second has never won.
Each of the last 17 Eurovision winners has appeared 10th or later in the show. That’s because having your song fresh in the audience’s mind is vital when it comes to the public vote.
One of this year’s favourites – Malta’s Destiny with Je me casse – failed largely because it sat sixth in the order and was forgotten among catchy later entries.
It’s the same for your marketing message. You have to get the timing right to ensure it’s at the front of a prospect’s mind at the point they want to act.
5. Good content is king
If you’re not a Eurovision fan, then chances are you think it’s all a pile of ear-splitting nonsense. However, the truth is this: terrible songs do not win the Eurovision Song Contest.
While it may be true that the best song doesn’t always win – Cliff Richard was absolutely robbed when Congratulations was beaten to the title by a Spanish song that included the word “la” 123 times in 1968 – it has to be good to win.
A good song can be elevated by spectacular staging, timing, or other events – you can argue that Ukraine’s win in 2016 wasn’t entirely about the song – but there’s nothing you can do with an awful effort. Indeed, since the pre-qualification was introduced in 2004, many of the truly mediocre songs are eliminated at the semi-final stage.
In Eurovision terms, the cream generally rises to the top. So, if you want to succeed, you need to hire an expert. This is true both for your own marketing and if you’re trying to win an international music contest.
If you’re looking for high-quality copy that can really elevate your marketing, get in touch. Email [email protected] or call 0115 8965 300.
(If you’re looking to win Eurovision, Johnny Logan is your man. So-called “Mr Eurovision” won the contest in 1980 (with What’s Another Year?) and in 1987 (with the magnificent ballad Hold Me Now) before returning in 1992 to write Linda Martin’s winner Why Me? He’s the only person to win Eurovision three times, so he’d be the first call I’d make if I wanted to guarantee success.)