Eurovision - A lesson on Sensory Branding

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May 11, 2017

by Gareth Pritchard


The cultural highlight of everyone’s year arrives on Saturday when the Eurovision song contest final will be broadcast from Kiev in Ukraine. As a massive fan of the whole event, and Associate Director of Statistics & Analytics at MMR, it got me thinking of broader lessons that can be learned from the contest.


Like many products out there on the shelves – to be a Eurovision song contest winner you need a lot of different things to work together.


Firstly, you need that killer product. 
This is not an easy thing to find - recently many countries have been shown up by lazy research when it comes to picking their song. In 2012 Sweden won the contest with a brilliant song called Euphoria. This was a rather different song to the previous winner (a ballad duet from Azerbaijan), in that it was essentially a dance track that would have been at home in many clubs around the continent. The following year Germany entered a very similar song. It finished 21st out of 26.

This teaches us that people won’t blindly continue loving the same thing over and over again. Tastes change, even over the course of a year. This is why being new and different can be so important. People don’t always want what they’ve already had before, especially if you’re not improving upon it.

This also leads us to the fact your product needs to stand out. Supermarket shelves are crammed with hundreds of products in competition with each other. In Eurovision, there are 25 other songs competing against yours in the final (I’ll ignore the semi finals for now), and on the night we see them all one after the other. Research has shown that the optimal position to perform in is around 17th. In fact, from 2005-2013 all the winning songs were performed in the final third on the running order.


People don’t always want what they’ve already had before, especially if you’re not improving upon it.


From this we learn how important it is to get your product in the right place. You can have a great proposition, but the last thing you want is to be ignored or forgotten. It’s crucial to be seen and, better yet, remembered.

Linking to this is the importance of the packaging and branding of your song. For the audience to remember you, the staging has to be unique too. In 2013, Emmelie de Forest won the contest – her song incorporated bright colours and huge drums on stage which helped it stand out and, therefore, be memorable. Other acts prior to this have used such tactics as burning pianos, men running in hamster wheels, grandmothers baking bread and even maids churning butter as a way to not only get noticed, but crucially gain the all important votes their songs deserve (some more than others!)

Equally a product has to be packaged and branded appropriately. This was an important aspect that we recognised massively during our sensory branding day, just how crucial it was to get it right. Even a slow ballad can stand out if given the right staging and lighting, and the simplest of products still need to display the right sensorial cues, visually, texturally and beyond.

It is a popularity contest out there. Your product needs to go beyond liking, receiving votes from a jury of experts in each country as well as buy in from the general public in order to win. This equates to supermarket bosses saying 'yes!' to stocking it in their store and the consumer desire to purchase the product. You need to say and do the right things – the quality of the song alone probably won't be enough if someone else has done all the above in a better, more holistic way.


Finally….. it’s crucial not to choose Engelbert Humperdinck. That simply won’t work.