For more than 250 years, our marketing firm Gladsome Lute has transformed thousands of struggling artists into household names. Few people know we lifted Beethoven from obscurity—we don’t like to toot our own flugelhorn—so we’ve released internal memos documenting this historic client engagement. We suspect other marketing professionals will be inspired by the challenges we overcame, as this client resisted the very thing that would ultimately be his salvation: a total rebrand.
March 3, 1795
Had our initial meeting in Vienna with Ludwig. Totally get why his agent thinks he will never fill a concert hall: This guy is relentlessly cheerful! Tried to explain to our new client that a sunny disposition does not resonate with today’s audience. Everyone is preoccupied with the French Revolution, and who knows when that will end?
We put it to him in simple terms: Congenial genius doesn’t sell. Tormented genius does. Ludwig said he wouldn’t know how to be irascible and broody. Said he needs to be his authentic self. We told him, “Look at Amadeus (not our client, by the way) and see where happy-go-lucky gets you!” Ludwig said nothing, just smiled and fussed with his powdered wig. Perhaps he longs for a pauper’s grave.
March 5, 1795
Scheduled a candid portrait for Ludwig tomorrow. He needs to lose the wig. Convinced every wig emporium in Vienna to say they’re out of his size. Must remind intern to set fire to Ludwig’s wig closet.
March 7, 1795
Client dismayed by loss of entire wig collection. Says going wigless will dishonor his beloved parents, who chose his first name for its German meaning, Lover of Wig. Poor guy is stuck in the 1770s. But as Archduke Rudolf likes to say, it’s time to trade in the knee breeches for pantaloons!
March 21, 1795
Wildly successful party last night to unveil portrait of our client’s brand refresh. Hundreds of guests, including reporters from the Vienna Tattler. When we raised a glass to toast the health of Ludwig’s brand, our intern did as instructed and shouted, “SAY LUDWIG, IS THAT LAUDANUM IN YOUR SNIFTER?” Ludwig denied it. Will definitely see that above the fold in next week’s Tattler!
April 14, 1795
Already getting ROI from the rebrand campaign. Males age 18-to-34 are refusing to wear wigs and scowling more. Met with Ludwig to share the good news, but he’s still upset about the Vienna Tattler suggesting he’s a laudanum junkie. We told him it's OK, we know you're sober. But the public needs to think you quiet your demons with a tincture, because that’s what vulnerable relatable geniuses do!
December 5, 1802
Great news—our client’s new song, “I Glimpsed Your Bare Ankle in the Moonlight (Sonata),” is a monster hit! Ludwig hates the title. Says it’s quite scandalous and also could we please stop calling it a song because it does not have lyrics. Such a didactic hard-ass. He wanted to call it “Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Opus 27, No. 2.” So catchy. Certainly would have topped the charts this year. That’s right—the “Moonlight” song is THE BEST-SELLING PIECE OF SHEET MUSIC FOR 1802! Suck it, Hayden!!!
December 21, 1802
Pleased to say we underestimated our client’s instinct for generating buzz! During our meeting last week, Ludwig announced that he could no longer bear the sound of our soulless machinations, then stabbed his eardrums repeatedly with his favorite composing quill. Major career boost for him—because our latest positioning survey shows women love the mysterious, tragic, almost-deaf-but-not-quite brand!
January 13, 1802
Ludwig doesn’t talk at our client meetings anymore. Just glares and tries to get his eyebrows to touch. Sometimes he looks as though he's trying to stab us with his cornea. Then we remind ourselves, hey, that look is totally crushing it with sheet music sales!
Dec 23, 1808
Debuted a great new song by Ludwig last night. But today he’s angry because we had the concert programs reprinted, announcing the world premiere performance of Beethoven’s “Ba-Ba-Ba Bum!”
We tried to explain to him that 97% of test audiences nod off before the first movement ends. Ten years from now, no one will remember “symphony number whatever.” But they might remember the first few notes!
That prompted some very on-brand hand gestures from Ludwig. So we advised him to stay in his lane and let us do the hard work of preserving his forward-looking,19th-century brand, and he can focus on making the contrabassoon sound triumphant.
March 26, 1827
Disappointing news. Had a big Vienna Tattler interview scheduled for Ludwig to discuss his favorite creativity-boosting tinctures, but he couldn’t make it because he’s dead. Even worse news: the doctor says it was natural causes. Hope the Tattler can jazz up the obit.
March 29, 1827
Narrowly averted a catastrophe at funeral home today. Went early to view Ludwig’s body and had a horrible shock. His face looked so peaceful! And with a finely coiffed wig!! Threw wig at incompetent undertaker and began salvaging our client's brand equity.
While our intern smushed the brow into maximum furrowedness, one of Ludwig’s lady protégés stormed up, screaming at us. So we told her, listen, you obviously don’t know the first thing about branding. Because that frowny thing you’re doing with your face is not a strategy we recommend for our lady clients. Said we could overhaul her brand, starting with a tasteful candid portrait. Just a hint of bare ankle. Maybe a little toe cleavage. It’s 1827 after all, and we need to keep it fresh.