How to fit in with the cool kids
For a long time, brands have been trying to fit in with the young and hip. It is these young and savvy cool-kids that are promoting the culture and creating awareness through the internet and social media. However those who promote culture and brands often are those who most don’t want to be told what to like. It’s the age-old game of marketing to a group without them knowing that they’re being marketed to.
Certain brands are doing this very well. Red Bull, for example, has aligned itself with indie-music around the world, promoting local concert-series, festivals, and even creating it’s own record label. Like many other markets (action sports, for example) Red Bull has completely integrated into it’s demographic, and is selling from the inside out. However, the notion of an artist selling out to a brand, has slowly eroded with the decline of record sales. Gone is the notion of “selling-out” as consumers are increasingly aware of the valuable relationship that can exist between brands and bands.
Along with the decline of record sales, it seems that consumers are more and more aware that somebody has to pay for events, and artists as well need to get paid for their work. Seeing that both bands and brands have the same goal of promoting their work, it only seems like a natural fit that more and more indie and major-label bands are turning towards well-known brands for a little financial backing and cross-promotion. The synergy has always been there, it’s just that now it seems that consumers are more likely to embrace it.
While Redbull and Samsung have effectively entered into markets with artists, and still maintained their artistic credibility (some more than others), it seems like the consumers are aware that there is some level of corporate strategy going on at the ground-level, however, we’re ok with it. As long as the artistic credibility is still intact (we’re all about promoting the art, right?) then the consumer will enter into the agreement. It’s as if consumers say to themselves “OK, I’ll watch this band’s concert presented by KIA if it just means there’s going to be a car sitting on the side-stage.” As soon as the relationship becomes in-authentic, then the agreement is off.
Branded stages, for example, are a huge money-maker at festivals around the world. Some festivals like Montreal’s Osheaga jump at the oppourtunity to have a HONDA branded stage, while other festivals such as Tennessee’s Bonnaroo scoff at stage branding, saying it’s a distraction from the music.
The entrance of big brand’s into indie-music may just be what the industry needed to regain some traction. It’s a synergetic relationship that allows the brands to join the cool kids party, and the cool kids to keep partying. Maintaining a tone of authenticity is of course essential to any brands foray into an introductory market, however, some are doing it well, and if it keeps the party going, hey, we’re all for it.