In three weeks, Universal Music will release a global study to offer brands tangible lessons from culture.

The Cultural Capital Report was announced at Universal Music’s Australian headquarters in Sydney yesterday (Sept. 18) and presented by BRING, the local agency which offers brands ‘cultural A&R’.

UMG’s global chief of possibilities, Olivier Robert-Murphy, was in attendance from London to offer the audience of brands (reps from KFC, American Express and Coke were in attendance) and media an insight into the report’s findings.

Robert-Murphy explained cultural capital as an emotional connection which banks fandom to grow brands.

The world’s largest major label took eight of the most influential global artists and through a survey discovered the cultural needs our biggest influencers provide. Based on this research, UMG and BRING identified eight cultural needs any service provider should embody in order to connect with an audience.

BRING Cultural Capital panel
Olivier Robert-Murphy – Global Chief of Possibilities, Universal Music Group & Brands and James Griffiths, Creative Director, BRING (and panel Moderator)

The eight cultural needs when connecting to music:

  1. Truth and honesty
  2. Social Attention
  3. Freedom of Self Expression
  4. Social Purpose
  5. Unity and Togetherness
  6. Freedom of Choice
  7. Meaning and Value
  8. Self Worth

Olivier Robert-Murphy was joined by Thundamentals linchpin Tuka, Nicola Tan, the Director of Experimental Marketing at American Express, and James Griffiths, BRING’s Creative Director, who moderated the panel.

BRING used Tuka, who has been impacting culture both on and off record since 2008. Thundamentals and Tuka have been featured in the triple j Hottest 100 for seven years straight. Meanwhile, his environmental and humanitarian projects have made him an activist who fans look up to.

panelists at BRING UMG's culture capital
Olivier Robert-Murphy (UMG), Tuka (Thundamentals), Nicola Tan (American Express), and James Griffiths (BRING)

James Griffiths said Tuka ticks the Truth and Honesty cultural need with how he conducts himself as an influencer.

“We’re oversaturated with fake news,” said Tuka. “It’s almost as if people have a ‘spidey-sense’ to be able to see authenticity or not. I’ve based my entire career on trying to be as vulnerable as I can, and showcase that I’m not this well-chiseled, beautiful, super intelligent guy with an amazing Justin Bieber voice.

“I’m a middle class, white rapper from the sticks in Katoomba, Blue Mountains, and that’s okay. And potentially I have something that’s as valuable to say, and the only way I can do that is to be myself.”

Tuka also ticks the Unity and Togetherness value with the formation of a Facebook group and Instagram page he created, Catsquad.

Tuka's catsquad
Tuka has a closed Facebook group with over 2,000 members, Catsquad

“I bought a cat […] and I just noticed how much I loved this cat,” he said. “It dawned on me one day that a lot of my fans… If I ever went for a cyber stalk, there were photos of them with their dogs and cats.

“Associate yourself with things people have a positive emotion about. So when they think of their cat they think of me,” he laughed.

“So I started this thing called Catsquad,” he continued. “I get people to send me photos of their cat and I post their cat as a member of the squad on an Instagram page […] I’ve been able to mobilise and narrow my core following in one place.”

The closed group on Facebook has over 2,000 members and has seen some fans make T-shirts with Tuka’s cat featured on them, or even create fan art of the cat.

American Express ticked the Unity and Togetherness box with its $1 million Music Backers programme, which was formed as part of its Powerful Backing campaign. Supporting Australia’s live music industry, the 12-month programme launched in May and hosted a free show by The Killers at Selina’s in Coogee, along with the opening acts at Twilight at Taronga‘s summer series, among many other initiatives.

“American Express has long supported our customers who are fans with pre-sales, the big partnerships, the big bands,” said Nicola Tan, the Director of Experimental Marketing at American Express.

“American Express doesn’t need to be front and centre all the time. […] Mostly we want the stories to be about who we’re backing, the artists, the venues…,” she said.

BRING believes brands and artists can equally build cultural capital and hopes the report will teach brands that the true way to connect and capitalise is not about badging culture, it’s about creating.

“Music has always has an ability to unite people in really interesting ways, in a live sense but also in an emotional sense,” said James Griffiths, BRING’s Creative Director.

BRING and UMG’s Cultural Capital Report is set to be released next month.