Y&R Finds Another Tech Buddy in Shazam

App seeks earlier engagements with marketers

Young & Rubicam is rubbing elbows with yet another technology company in ongoing push to contemporize its offering.

Audio recognition application Shazam has forged a partnership with the WPP Group shop. The partnership, which is non-exclusive, also involves video content creator Unconventional Partners, another tech player with ties to Y&R.

Through an initiative known as Spark Plug, Y&R has introduced startups such as UP and Interlude to its key clients, which include Colgate-Palmolive, Dell, Danone and Xerox. Global CEO David Sable unveiled the initiative last year.

Shazam represents a service that, through tagging and mobile phones, connects old media with new, whether it's identifying the name of a song on the radio or linking to content related to a TV ad or TV show. The company claims to have some 350 million users worldwide, including 100 million in the U.S. About 70 million of all users are active each month.

News of the Y&R partnership comes the same week that Shazam lined up $40 million in new funding from telecommunications giant America Movil, which is based in Mexico City. That deal is expected to extend Shazam’s reach in Latin America.

Some Y&R clients already use Shazam tagging in their ads, while others have expressed interest in the feature, Sable said. He declined to identify them, however.

“Going forward, you’re going to see it in more of our work,” Sable told Adweek. “The key is not to do it as an afterthought.”

He added that the partnership “gives us a huge opportunity to build [Shazam] in as part of the solution and not just as, ‘Oh, yeah, sure, look at what we can do with technology.’ That’s really the point of our partnership.”

Shazam began in 2002 as an app to identify songs and branched into TV ad tagging about two years ago (including deals with the likes of SyFy). Since then, some 150 brands have used the service in about 250 campaigns, according to Shazam CEO Rich Riley. Among the brands are Pepsi, Toyota, Barclays and Sony Entertainment.

So, given Shazam’s success with marketers already, why does the company need to partner with Y&R? Well, Riley, for one, sees a  chance to “get in early, work with clients and make sure we think about mobile activation right from the start.”

Asked if he had any particular clients in mind, Riley said simply, “No, it’s a long list. For us this is a commitment to extensive collaboration across the appropriate clients of Y&R.”