A CMO’s View: How the Grammys & Intel teamed up to create Lady Gaga’s David Bowie tribute


Photo by Kevin Winter/WireImage

Photo by Kevin Winter/WireImage

This year, The Grammys entered into a partnership with Intel that resulted in one of the most memorable Grammy moments ever when Lady Gaga took the stage to pay tribute to David Bowie.

“Artists will tell us that they intend to give the performance of their lives, a career-defining performance, and that really is the essence of a Grammy moment,” says Evan Greene, who serves as CMO for the Grammys. “To take that which already exists in an extraordinary manner, and then take it to the next level, it was a pretty tall order.”

Greene says his team was very enthusiastic that the Intel partnership could result in such a moment for Lady Gaga’s performance.

“For us, the thing that seems to resonate around the world, to hundreds of millions of people every year who watch the Grammys telecast, are those extraordinary music moments that happen on our stage, that frankly have never been contemplated,” says Greene.

According to Greene’s team, Lady Gaga’s performance generated nearly 300,000 mentions on Twitter surrounding the Grammys and Intel. Overall, this year’s show had more than 120 million social interactions, including 17.2 million Tweets and 21 million interactions on Facebook.

“This is my 13th Grammys, and I think, honestly, this might have been one of the best shows we’ve done,” says Greene.

Today, Greene shares more details around his brand’s partnership with Intel, including how it began and the role it played in this year’s 58th Grammy Awards.

Get To Know:

Evan Greene

CMO @ the Grammys


1. It is always beneficial to have as many friends as possible in this business, so dedicate the time to building personal relationships with people across varied and diverse categories.

2. Play the long game — focus on a long-term relationship, rather than simply trying to “hit your numbers” for the current quarter. Committing to providing extraordinary long-term value will develop loyalty and end up paying dividends for many years to come.

3. Focus on building multi-year partnerships. Year one is a big learning curve and is really about working through challenges, as well as learning to speak each other’s language. Year two is where the program starts to gather momentum; year three and beyond are where you really achieve scale.

Amy Gesenhues: Before we talk about the Grammys’ recent partnership with Intel, can you tell me more about your role as CMO and give a quick overview of your team?

Evan Greene: Sure, as head of the marketing group here, I oversee a team of about 25 people. We are collectively responsible for marketing and brand strategy, social media, PR and marcoms, digital and digital content.

I should say digital content, as well as marketing partnerships and sponsorships. Anything that ultimately touches the Grammy brand comes through this team.

Amy Gesenhues: How did the Grammys’ partnership with Intel happen?

Evan Greene: This came about as the result of a long-term relationship I have with a gentleman by the name of Matt Kauffman, who happens to run Intel’s global partnership division.

He and I started talking about Intel’s refocused, or I should say, refined brand focus. They were looking to shift the direction of their brand from being simply the computer chip people, from the idea of “Intel inside” and evolving that into “Intel inside” means great experiences outside.

So live events and entertainment was a very big focus of theirs. When we started talking to Intel, they really didn’t know what a Grammy relationship could be or what it could evolve into.

We put our heads together and started digging down into the brief — and their ultimate brand objectives — and hit on the idea of Grammy Moments – those extraordinary performance moments that happen exclusively on The Grammy stage.

The idea of using Intel’s cutting edge technology — Intel is really the only one capable of helping us take those Grammy moments that have resonated around the world for 60 years to the next level.

Amy Gesenhues: Can you share more about the Intel partnership and the role it played in this year’s Grammy Awards show?

Evan Greene: Lady Gaga’s performance was really the kickoff, the launch of this relationship. It’s a multi-year relationship, and that is the first Grammy moment that we re-imagined, and [it] helped take us to the next level.

We will be doing another special Grammy moment at some point during this year, and we are continuing to work on the creative for that piece. This will continue to evolve over the course of the next couple of years with different iterations of Grammy moments.

Amy Gesenhues: I loved — still love — David Bowie and thought Lady Gaga was the perfect performer for his tribute. How did you come to choose Lady Gaga’s performance as the launch for the Intel partnership?

Evan Greene: I think collectively, both the Grammys and Intel thought that Lady Gaga represented the perfect artist to represent the limitless potential of technology.

When you look at what she’s achieved over her career, technology has played a really big role. So what better ambassador to really represent the intersection between music and technology than Lady Gaga?

I will tell you, we found ourselves in a situation rather late in the game with the unfortunate passing of David Bowie that we revised the original plan. And it, somehow, created a unique moment for us because it added a whole different layer of context, since technology was a part of David Bowie’s career, as well.

It certainly was something that we could never have planned for, but it was one of those situations where we wanted to pay tribute and honor David Bowie, and this really seemed to be an incredibly appropriate way to do it.

Amy Gesenhues: There was Lady Gaga’s tribute performance, and then there was the following spot where the Grammys and Lady Gaga talked about how Intel was involved with the performance, which could be argued was an extended commercial. Can you share more about that video — how was it planned? Who was involved?

Evan Greene: We wanted to be really respectful of the Grammy Awards process and the telecast, and you’ll notice there’s never been a brand integrated into the body of the show itself. We really wanted to maintain that.

In building this amazing musical moment, this kind of transcendent musical moment, we were able to do it because of the strength and innovation of Intel’s technology — not necessarily because we posted Intel’s name.

That was really a campaign, that leading up to the show, was all about earned media — about excitement and anticipation, about what was possible. And then, once the performance happened, that’s when Intel really unleashed a pretty significant marketing effort to underscore how their technology could be used in broader applications. Meaning that as soon as there was a tangible representation, and a tangible example of the extraordinary capabilities of Intel technology, then Intel wanted to tell the world about it.

So, yes, we did have a pretty sophisticated plan with Intel that led up and amplified to the Grammys telecast. And then once the show happened, it took off in an exciting way. And the earned media that they received after the fact, or that we both received from trade press, as well as consumer press, was extraordinary and just about universally positive and effusive.

Amy Gesenhues: What is the most unique thing about this partnership with Intel when compared to your other partnerships and sponsorships?

Evan Greene: I will say that we’ve never done anything like this in the past. We really, together, push the boundaries of creativity and innovation, and we found a seamless, tasteful way for a partner to meaningfully participate in the Grammys telecast.

And so, rather than placing or integrating a product in a kind of distracting manner, or in a very overt manner, Intel’s involvement authentically elevated what we could deliver to the world in terms of musical performance.

Amy Gesenhues: Would it be fair to call Intel’s “Experience the Lady Gaga + Intel Collaboration” video the ultimate native advertising initiative?

Evan Greene: I don’t know that I would. I don’t know that I would categorize it as an advertising initiative. I would say it was a deeply integrated brand alignment that made perfect sense for both parties.

I think that technology and music have been aligned. I think technology enhances and enables music and vice versa, and I think we’ve evolved that relationship in an extraordinary way.

Amy Gesenhues: Before I let you go, I have to ask, as the Grammys CMO, what is your favorite part of the night?

Evan Greene: I’ll tell you my favorite part. I spent 10 years on the film marketing side prior to coming to the Academy. And so I’ve had the unique opportunity to be part of a number of really exciting events, but I’ll tell you, the thing that really gets me every single year is having the opportunity to be inside an empty arena, watching some of the best artists in the world rehearse their Grammy performances — to work out all the kinks before they take the Grammy stage in front of the world.

About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is Third Door Media’s General Assignment Reporter, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs.com, SoftwareCEO.com, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here