8 Lessons that Marketing can learn from Eurovision 2021

8 Lessons that Marketing can learn from Eurovision 2021

The Eurovision song contest attracts viewing figures of approximately 200 million people. 

As a sample group it’s possibly broad enough to attract the attention of marketeers. :)

2021’s win by the Italian rock band, Maneskin, holds some valuable lessons that should help marketers answer the fundamental question of: How to do marketing strategy.

The learnings below are basic stuff, but these kinds of Marketing 101 lessons can get lost or forgotten in the constant noise of pressure to perform.

How to do effective Marketing strategy - Learn from Eurovision

1. Be different and unique - stand out

Italy’s Maneskin were the only back-to-basics rock band in a sea of pop/dance and ballads.

They finished absolutely miles ahead in the public vote (Televote), scoring 380 points... 100 points more than second place received.

Finland gave us the only post hardcore song - and their push back against pop conformity was rewarded by coming second in the Televote. Third most popular with the public was Ukraine with the night’s only techno track. 

Behavioural science calls this the Von Restorff effect (or the isolation effect).

Never forget:
If you are different/unusual in a homogenous group, you will be remembered.

2. Being totally ‘on brand’ with unified look and feel (and messaging) across the whole organisation let's your audience understand your proposition

The Italian act had a bold look: 1970s, brown, leather. 

The whole band wore it. 

The whole band looked like they wear those costumes all the time. 

The whole band had hair and make-up to match.

This gave an absolutely 100% clear signal that the message was “Rock n Roll never dies”. And this was the emphatic shout from lead singer Damiano in his brief acceptance speech.  

Never forget:
When your branding is confident and focussed (with simple messaging to match) your audience knows exactly what they are getting - and they buy into it.

3. Be authentic 

We all know that the public can immediately sniff out inauthenticity with considerable ease. 

Not being inauthentic with your brand is the easy part. 

Being authentic and 100% true to yourself however, takes some real balls.

Italy sang in Italian and got the public voting at home in their droves. 

They walked away with the competition.

In fact, the top 3 all sang in their mother-tongue, rather than the traditional approach of singing in English for Eurovision to try to broaden your appeal.

Since 2000, only 2 acts have won when not singing in English (Serbia 2007, Portugal 2017) - so a data-driven approach would dictate that English lyrics would create the best opportunity for victory. The top 3 proved that data should be secondary to a strategy of maximum authenticity.

Never forget:
Genuine authenticity is rewarded by valuable engagement 

The consumer is not a moron
— David Ogilvy

4. The general public is not stupid

Too many acts tried to fill a Eurovision Song Contest checklist. Trying to pander to everybody to maximise your vote tally is a fool’s game. 

Moldova, San Marino, Sweden and countless more countries tried to shoehorn in as many cliches as possible and were punished by the public with dismal scores.

Never forget that the public are more switched on than they get credit for.

Rory Sutherland has commented that (in less woke times of a bygone age) David Ogilvy said that the consumer is not a moron, she is your wife. 

Never forget:
Treat the public with respect - your brand will suffer if you don’t

5. Don't copy others 

Historically in Eurovision, when there is a winner who knows how to be creative and original they are followed swiftly the next year by many copycats. When someone wins with a violin, guess what instrument all the mid-packers are using the following year? The copycats always fail.  

In 2021, it was clear that Serbia had binge-watched all of Destiny’s Child’s videos. They finished 15th.

Malta was desperately trying to be Beyonce, with references to Israel’s previous winner Netta thrown in for good measure.

The public decided that was worth 47 points. (For comparison, Italy got 380 points in the Televote).

Never forget:
Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt. The public want something new, not a facsimile of something recently popular.

6. The general public does not generally share the experts’ opinion.

Switzerland received the maximum 12 points from 8 different nation’s juries and were seemingly running away with Eurovision 2021 after all the votes had been counted from the so-called expert panels.

Then came the public vote. They only gave Switzerland 165 points (less than half that they gave to Italy).

In the diagnosis stage of creating a marketing strategy you will gain far better insights with market research by asking non-customers what are their objections to purchasing for example, rather than pay a consultant/expert to give you their best guess on perception of your brand. 

Never forget:
Experts aren’t always right. Continually consult your customers and non-customers.

7. Gimmicks don't work

Germany had a dancer on stage dressed up in a gimmicky costume with a raised middle finger.

Greece used extensive green screen technology to wow the TV audience. Credit where credit’s due though, the Greek song was slightly above average Eurovision fare.

No matter what tech or visual shenanigans you resort to, it will not distract an intelligent public from reaching a decision about whether your content/product is useful to them or not.

Eurovision is a song contest at the end of the day. WIthout the added visuals, would these songs have worked on their own, just as audio?

What did the public think of the quality of the songs of Germany and Greece?

Televote scores: Germany (0) and Greece (79)

No gimmicks will rescue something not appropriate to the context and/or audience.

As a wise man once said to me: You can’t polish a turd.

Never forget:
Don’t try to focus your marketing on something other than the core benefits of your fantastic product/content.

8. Don't piss off your customers 

No company can be anti-customer and expect to stay in business.

If you say no to your audience you can’t expect them to stay with you.

After Brexit, guess what score the United Kingdom got from the European voters?

Jury Vote for UK = zero

Public Vote for UK = zero

Never forget:
Treat your customers like your best friend, not your enemy.


Marketing Strategy Summary

Strategy is all about what you don't do.

It’s impossible to be everything to everybody.
So many Eurovision acts tried to hit too many targets.

Your marketing should push an authentic brand identity, focussing on one simple message, as personified by Italy.

As Dave Trott says, the thing missing from every single advertising brief at the top of the page is “This advertising must get noticed by people”

Following the above marketing basics will help to create a strong strategy that results in gaining attention and engagement from your public.

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