Warner Chappell MD Shani Gonzales on the big Christmas campaigns

Warner Chappell MD Shani Gonzales on the big Christmas campaigns

Warner Chappell has been busy securing high-profile placements for Christmas campaigns.

Celeste, one of the publisher’s rising artist-songwriters, landed perhaps the biggest sync at this time of year. The Polydor-signed singer wrote an original composition for John Lewis/Waitrose.

Warner Chappell also has its fair share of festive streaming hits, including Wham!’s Last Christmas (currently a No.1 contender).

Here, Warner Chappell UK MD Shani Gonzales unwraps the publisher’s festive songs for 2020… 

How is Warner Chappell working its festive catalogue and securing syncs?

“We’re actually finding that, more and more, Christmas campaigns don’t always rely on traditional festive songs. The tracks that end up being used can come from anywhere, depending on the genre and style that a brand is looking for and the message it wants to get across. Examples this year include Hal David and Burt Bacharach’s What The World Needs Now Is Love for Boots, and Dua Lipa, Clarence Coffee Jr, Sarah Hudson and Stephen Kozmeniuk’s Levitating for Morrison’s.

“Our sync team starts talking with brands as early as June to see what their plans are, so we can partner with them to find the best songs for their campaigns. Of course, the pandemic has had a huge impact this year, with shoots being cancelled and creative ideas being swapped, so we’ve had to move more quickly than ever to help make the process as painless as possible.”  

Can you outline the specific strategy for Last Christmas?

“As with all of our Christmas classics, we pitch appropriately and only target the right opportunities. For example, Last Christmas was the keystone sync for the 2019 film Last Christmas, which this year is featured prominently in streaming services’ festive movie line-ups. It’s a great example of a sync that’ll deliver for years to come.”  

How significant is Christmas streaming becoming to you in revenue terms?  

“We’re incredibly proud to represent a wide range of amazing Christmas songs from Last Christmas to Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree. They generate more streaming spins every December that passes and, as a result, we’ve seen a steady uptick in revenue from these songs each year. Our Christmas songs were climbing the charts much earlier than usual - I think it’s safe to say everyone is ready for some Christmas cheer after a crazy 2020! This is also an international phenomenon, and we’re seeing spikes in streams from markets around the world, from the US to Australia.”         

At a time when all labels and publishers will be pushing their festive catalogues, how can Warner Chappell gain an edge?  

“Our sync and creative services teams work together to mine our catalogue and identify key songs that we think will work with the themes our brands are looking to focus on. We also try and prioritise songs that can be used as dedicated covers, as well as trying to find ones that haven’t been used in past Christmas campaigns. For example, we created the parody song We Need A Little Christmas for Lidl’s campaign in Ireland. This year, there’s definitely been demand for songs about family, giving, kindness and togetherness. What’s most important is that we understand our clients’ needs and work quickly to deliver for them. Everyone’s busy and you can’t waste their time if you want them to use you again.” 

Are there opportunities with new songs and potential future Christmas classics?

Celeste has scored the John Lewis and Waitrose sync – the most high-profile of the year – with her amazing song Give A Little Love, which she was inspired to write by the kindness that people have shown each other during the pandemic. Beyond that, we’re also excited about Paloma Faith and Gregory Porter’s Christmas Prayer, written by our own Sinéad Harnett and Jonny Lattimer, and we’re running some festive writing camps this year to create some future classics!” 

Subscribers can read our exclusive interview with Shani Gonzales here.

* To make sure you can access Music Week wherever you are, subscribe to our digital issue by clicking here.

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