A Looser, Mutually Beneficial Tie Between Brands and Bands?

Lego Rock StarFor the past few days, I’ve been thinking about a blog post I have in development (read: mostly as jumbled thoughts in my brain) about how marketers are increasingly moving away from “hard sells” for a number of key reasons.

That post will point to new findings about how direct response campaigns are taking a backseat to branding objectives and so on and so forth. The implications there are really significant and there’s a lot to explore on that topic.

The thing is, as I’m not sure when those thoughts will align themselves logically, I thought I might focus now on one key way marketers are dialing up the “experience” component of brands and that’s through partnerships with bands.

While corporate sponsorships in the music industry have long ranged from use of music in advertising, financial backing of festivals, endorsements of bands directly to much more, I’m most interested in the possibility of mutually beneficial relationships that arise when bands receive financial backing and are essentially allowed to do what they want (in case of the first example below) or when that partnership allows them to create a strange co-branded experience (in the case of the second example) that would probably never exist otherwise.

OK Go + Chevy

Gorillaz + Converse

As the connection between bands and brands has always been a sensitive one with allegations of “selling out” sullying the artistic cred of countless musicians, this newer variation of an old relationship opens up some interesting possibilities of a new model in which both bands and brands are able to stay close to their ideals.

Mike Masnick of Techdirt sums it up eloquently.

One of the key things in this is the recognition that content is advertising. Lots of people have recognized the reverse: that advertising is content… but things really open up when you realize that content itself is advertising. And that’s something that a lot of brands are recognizing by tying themselves to different content creators, and letting them do cool stuff around their brands. I know that some people find this to be some form of “selling out,” but as Ronson points out in the video linked above (and, as I’m sure the folks in OK Go know well) that’s pretty silly. Most consumers today know that artists need to make money, and as long as the brand gives them the freedom to be who they are and do what they do, most fans have no problem with these kinds of deals.

As brands are increasingly looking to break through as the “hard sell” and pushing products directly is often an ineffective one with modern audiences, expect to see more and more “experiential” plays that look to bring bands and brands into even more mutually beneficial, and if they’re anything like the examples above, highly creative relationships.

(Image: photography-andreas)

About mattwhiting

Seattle-based social media and digital communications consultant for Waggener Edstrom Worldwide. Also types words about music for SEA live MUSIC.
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  • http://www.newcommbiz.com/ tacanderson

    I think you’re also seeing this with brands using more and more indy bands in their commercials. A) I’m sure they get them cheaper, and B) they get the halo effect of being cool and edgy. The first time I heard Matt & Kim was in a Bacardi commercial 

  • http://twitter.com/mattwhiting mattwhiting

    Definitely. Both of your points are right on, Tac. Companies have always sought to be cool and now they’re looking to be more cool and edgy with the help of indie bands. The main difference is a lot of bands now realize that corporate relationships are often core to surviving or maintaining a certain quality of life as a band. The willingness of bands to play comes from shifting thoughts about “selling out” and ideas whether they can maintain their sense of artistic credibility while getting paid. A lot of bands are figuring out a balance that allows them to sleep at night.

  • http://twitter.com/mattwhiting mattwhiting

     Definitely. Both of your points are right on, Tac. Companies have always sought to be cool and now they’re looking to be more cool and edgy with the help of indie bands. The main difference is a lot of bands now realize that corporate relationships are often core to surviving or maintaining a certain quality of life as a band. The willingness of bands to play comes from shifting thoughts about “selling out” and ideas whether they can maintain their sense of artistic credibility while getting paid. A lot of bands are figuring out a balance that allows them to sleep at night.

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