Where Podcasting Meets Music, Bias, and CSR

Procter & Gamble and Spotify Create Original ‘Harmonize’ Series

Procter & Gamble has teamed with Spotify to launch a brand new podcast, Harmonize, and if you haven’t already binged the first four episodes, we’ll wait here while you do that. [Twiddles thumbs. Takes nap. Does taxes early.] Okay, all caught up? Just in case, we’ll explain. Hosted by cultural critic Jamilah Lemieux — alongside music expert Cory Townes — the series finds John Legend and Pusha T sharing stories about how racial bias has affected their personal and professional lives, and also discussing the role that music plays as a cultural catalyst.

An extension of P&G's "The Look" campaign (more on that later), the podcast's debut season focuses on the Black male experience in America. While the show educates us about the world we live in, its very existence also tells us a lot about this moment — specifically how brands can (and should) embrace corporate social responsibility effectively and authentically.

Young people today expect brands to raise their voices and be a part of the debate. In fact, in gathering research for Spotify’s recent Culture Next trend report, we learned that 68% of Gen Zs and millennials globally think brands need to promote more progressive values and play a more meaningful role in societ1. They want to see companies uphold honesty, environmental protection, and — shout out to Harmonize — equality.2 And they associate doing so with trust.3

P&G has a long and rich history of taking a stand. In fact, Harmonize comes from a specific lineage that goes back to 2006, when P&G launched My Black Is Beautiful in order to promote positive representations of Black people and culture in the beauty industry. From that initiative came 2017’s Emmy-winning, conversation-sparking "The Talk," depicting Black mothers over the years speaking to their children about prejudice. A spiritual sequel, "The Look" arrived this year showing an accomplished Black father ushering his son through a socially hostile world.

That P&G chose to create a podcast as part of this initiative is significant. We are in the midst of a New Golden Age of Audio, and podcasts have a huge role. The medium is experiencing a serious boom — more than 750,000 shows are now in circulation,4 and over half of American adults had streamed at least one of those by March of 2019.5 On Spotify we’ve felt this boom firsthand. And we’ve learned that the format’s inherent intimacy fosters trust and encourages attention, creating a safe space for consumers and brands alike. Get this: 81% of listeners take action after hearing ads during a podcast.7

But it’s more than Spotify’s status as a leading podcast platform that makes it the ideal home for a show like Harmonize. For one, 75% of our listeners agree podcasts are a great way to learn new things.8 But even more to the point, Spotify has a record of amplifying underrepresented voices through programs like Sound Up), original series like Jemele Hill Is Unbothered, branded co-productions like Ebb & Flow), and other recent partnerships.

Obviously that’s a lot to dig into, so why not start with Harmonize? P&G’s mission, after all, is to build empathy, and interest around the ways that bias affects our daily lives and is impacted by the art we love. We’re confident that the conversation won’t end after these four episodes.

1 Culture Next Report, Spotify trend survey among 4,000 respondents 15-37 globally [AU, BR, DE, FR, MX, PH, U.K., U.S.], February 2019
2 Culture Next Report, Spotify trend survey among 4,000 respondents 15-37 globally [AU, BR, DE, FR, MX, PH, U.K., U.S.], February 2019
3 Culture Next Report, Spotify trend survey among 4,000 respondents 15-37 globally [AU, BR, DE, FR, MX, PH, U.K., U.S.], February 2019
4 “2019 Podcast Stats & Facts,” Podcastinsights.com, June 2019
5 Edison Research and Triton Digital, The Infinite Dial Study 2019
7 Crowd DNA & Spotify, We’re All Ears, AU, BR, DE, MX, UK, US, 2018
8 Crowd DNA & Spotify, We’re All Ears, AU, BR, DE, MX, UK, US, 2018