Windham Hill brands new image

Creating broader perception of its identity

It’s not about sandals and candles anymore.

Windham Hill Records has tapped McCann-Erickson, one of the world’s largest ad agencies, to create an intensive campaign designed to introduce the label to new fans and reacquaint it to those instrumental music zealots who may have strayed from the flock.

Windham Hill, once known as the leading purveyor of the genre derisively dubbed New Age, wants record-buyers to know it has become the premier label for adult contemporary music.

Centered by a series of five 30-second commercial spots, set to air on web and cable outlets including A&E, Lifetime, Discovery, ESPN and the Food Network, execs at the label hope the promos will spur fans to snap up the latest offerings from such artists as Jim Brickman, its flagship act George Winston and label newcomer Janis Ian.

The unprecedented campaign is being positioned to also send the message that consumers can trust the label.

Few consumers buy albums according to which record label releases it, unless it comes from a specialty outfit like a Rhino or one known for putting out the best and brightest in a particular genre.

For example, jazz aficionados know they can turn to a Verve; while classical devotees often rely on Deutche Gramophon. But most consumers select their music on an artist-by-artist basis.

Hoping to expand the niche that Windham Hill has carved, label execs have decided it pays to advertise the label as a brand.

Each spot will be tagged with the slogan “Windham Hill: The Music Inside You” and feature the music of its artists, such as Brickman and Winston. A special Christmas ad is being prepped to run during the holidays.

“As viewers see all five ads, they will get a strong impression of the music of The Windham Hill Group,” said Faithe Raphael, veep of strategic marketing for Windham Hill. “Each ad is different, but together, they tell a story.”

McCann-Erickson got the gig, according to Raphael, because the agency knows “how to reach our consumer. We also believe this relationship will lead us to some exciting marketing campaigns as the year progresses. They really understand what Windham Hill is about. We speak the same language.”

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