A Brand Strategy You Can Dance To

Gad Romann always wanted to be a songwriter. But he let the dream go—until two years ago, when he picked it up again. Now, as part of his branding work for restaurant chain Haru in New York, Romann has found himself with a Top 10 hit.

To get the Japanese fusion chain “inside the culture” of its club-hopping target, the Romann Group creative director had an unsual idea: to write a dance track called “Haru,” market it to DJs in the city and, should it become popular, connect it to Haru the restaurant.

The song (sample lyrics: “You fill me up with fusion/Clear up my confusion/You send me into laughter/Entice me with your mantra”) was a hit, partly thanks to legendary spinner Junior Vasquez, who mixed his own version of it. This month it reached No. 5 on the Billboard dance-music chart, and Romann began connecting it to the chain—putting CD singles in takeout orders and creating wild postings that read, “You’ve danced to it. Now eat to it.”

“People hear the song and think, ‘It’s exciting. It’s stimulating. It’s sexy,’ ” Romann says. “Then, when we connect it to the brand, they think, ‘Oh wow, it’s about eating.’ ”

Romann is thinking of making a video and may get “some angry 20-year-old” to do a punk version. Whatever happens, his forays into content creation are paying off. “You have to develop an open communication with people,” he says. “Getting Britney Spears to say, ‘Pepsi tastes better,’ is not it.”