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Songs for Screens: How JanSport Tapped Artists (Who Already Were Customers) for Its Latest Ad Campaign

Songs For Screens is a Variety column written by Andrew Hampp, a VP at New York-based music sponsorship and experiential agency MAC Presents and former branding correspondent for Billboard. Each week, the column will highlight noteworthy use of music in advertising and marketing campaigns, as well as new and catalog songs that we deem ripe for synch use.

Music supervisor Todd Porter has helped send Fun. to the top of the charts by synching “We Are Young” for a 2012 Super Bowl commercial with Chevrolet, and added dimensions to Rae Sremmurd’s “Over Here” video courtesy of Doritos.

For his latest project, Porter is shining a light on emerging artists like New York-based DJ/producer Equal, Seattle rock band Naked Giants and Sacramento rapper Chuuwee in a series of digital commercials and short films for American backpack brand JanSport showcasing the company’s latest products Hatchet and SuperBreak. The work was created by San Francisco-based brand and content studio Teak.

Though none of the bands are featured on-camera in the commercials, their off-camera affinity for JanSport’s backpacks played a crucial role in determining whose music would be selected. Porter looked at artists who performed at JanSport’s ongoing Bonfire Sessions concert series at South By Southwest to get an initial feel for which ones had a natural tie to the product in their daily life, and even began fielding incoming requests.

“I had bands and rights-holders reaching out about how much they loved it, and wanted to do something maybe bigger with JanSport because of the fact they the brand was something they already have on their backs,” Porter says. “I was impressed by the affinity people have for this brand, who could convey the fun and craziness of it.”

Part of the artist community’s appreciation of JanSport comes from the backpacks’ long shelf life, which is showcased in one :15 spot for the SuperBreak. Naked Giants frontman Grant Mullen cited a friend of his from the Seattle music scene who’s had the same JanSport for 30 years, which plays into the “Guaranteed for Life” tagline that accompanies Naked Giants’ song “Ya Ya.”

“I’ve seen it, I don’t think it has the name JanSport anywhere on it anymore but it does the job for him,” Mullen says. ‘“Ya Ya’ is an earlier song of ours that we still play at almost every show. It feels durable to us as a song, maybe in the same way that backpacks are. It’s very cool to hear it behind it such a cool ad – I love the way the dropping of the backpacks syncs up with the rhythm of the song.”





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