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The Ting Tings
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“It’s not a perfect science. But we reduce the uncertainty and allow [clients] to make better moves,” Moreau says confidently from the company’s primary office in New York. (The:Hours also has offices in Paris and London.) “The challenge is convincing the client to jump in the pool without knowing there’s much water.”

There was no uncertainty for Michael Kors when, shortly after the launch of the Very Hollywood campaign, Lady Gaga began her worldwide ascent to superstardom. But more important for The:Hours and Kors, the Very Hollywood campaign was a hit as well. Though Estée Lauder won’t release quantitative? figures on its success, Sap says more qualitative research suggests that the campaign contributed to the brand’s “cool factor” and expanded its audience. Gabai-Pinsky attributes much of the campaign’s success to allowing all involved the freedom to work together and exchange ideas. The end result, she says, was a true collaboration.

“The:Hours have been an amazing partner to us. We worked very closely on the creative process with them,” she says. “They fully understood the equity of the brand and the spirit of this new fragrance. The music played a very big role, and we got wonderful results at the launch.”

The firm comes by its hipster status ?honestly. They own an indie record label, The Hours Records, which is distributed by Universal Records and boasts a roster of indie acts, including British alternative rock outfit Elbow, electronic duo AutoKratz and breakout pop artist Dan Black. Black remembers first signing with his label: “They didn’t seem like normal record-company people — they seemed like guys from the band, and yet they delivered tenfold and far surpassed our expectations. They are proper mavericks.”

The:Hours is careful not to push their bands on clients, Moreau says, adding that the label and the agency are handled separately. Still, this kind of inside access to trends and artists affords them leverage and credibility in knowing what will be popular.

Moreover, the agency, which was founded in 2007, has expanded its reach by being an innovator in new-strategy marketing. With social-networking sites constantly bombarding consumers with advertising, they quickly realized the importance of creating an experience for customers — something that resonates with them emotionally. And music is always a part of that experience, with artists often being involved in the process from beginning to end. That may mean penning original songs for a campaign, contributing to treatments for commercials or even helping to make decisions about a product.

It is decidedly different from old industry methods, where advertisers would be forced to fit a square peg (in this case, a song from an artist’s repertoire) into a round hole (their existing product). The:Hours’ process is more organic, with artists and advertisers working in tandem. This concept — mixing art and commerce — was once perceived by singers as an unholy alliance. But that perception has shifted, thanks in part to expanded? creative control for the artists ?involved. And with declining music sales and radio airplay time hard to come by, new artists can benefit significantly from the additional exposure that advertising brings.