An ad agency’s campaign hits the wrong note


  • Executive insight
  • By:

    Hired to launch a new brand, an advertising agency insured by Hiscox, came up with a campaign, the centrepiece of which was a commercial to be shown on TV, in cinemas and on the internet. Great music of course can make a great advert and the agency thought they had found just the right track; duly paying the publishers for the licence to use the music.

    Desolation boulevard

    Not long after the advert began its run, the agency was horrified to receive a ‘cease and desist’ letter from a music publisher claiming that the agency didn’t have a licence for the track played during the advert.

    Money for nothing

    The agency thought they had paid for the piece but it was soon discovered that the publishers were right; the agency had bought a licence for a different piece of music, albeit one by the same band and from the same album.

    At stake was almost £2m of advertising space which had already been bought and pre-booked, as well as the agency’s relationship with their client. There was also a potential legal claim from the client over damage to their reputation and loss of sales if the issue became public.

    Let it be

    As soon as the issue broke, we began negotiating with the music publishers as well as working on contingency plans to cover what we and the advertising agency would do if the publishers declined to grant a licence. Fortunately a deal was reached within a few days and the licence was secured. The campaign continued seamlessly and the agency’s client was never aware of the issue. ‘A bridge over troubled water’ you might say...

    You may be interested in...