March 26th, 2010

Brand Sponsored Music Done Right

This video is way cool, but did you notice the State Farm sponsorship?  OK Go is a band mostly known for their videos (remember the one with the treadmills?), and I had the opportunity to sit in on a panel session at South by Southwest (SXSW) where Damian Kulash of OK Go talked about the making of this newest video and working with State Farm.

The band’s record label didn’t have enough money to pay for the video, so OK Go reached out to State Farm.  Kulash talked about this being scary for them because the band did not want to be in the business of making advertising.  But, he said that State Farm was surprisingly hands-off and understood that they are not content creators.  When they first formed the relationship, State Farm requested that the video be available only on the State Farm website for the initial launch.  OK Go, a band that understands the power of the internet, refused to do this: there is no sense in trying to control where people go on the internet as they will always find a way around the limitations you put on them.  Ultimately, State Farm agreed and the video was posted everywhere.  To give State Farm their money’s worth, the brand as made part of the story, with no attempt to hide the relationship (remember, the internet is about transparency).  And, the video is so interesting that people watch four or five times.  State Farm managed to relinquish control, introduce and endear themselves to a whole new set of consumers, and come out unscathed.  There are even positive comments on YouTube about the brand and the sponsorship.

This is a good lesson for brands looking to expand their audience base in new and interesting ways.  To tap into consumers beyond the brand’s existing reach, sometimes it is necessary to play by the rules of those consumers.  Attempting to force corporate rules on potential new consumers can have disastrous effects (see Nestle’s Facebook meltdown).

Interesting facts about the development of the video:

  • It took 65 takes to get the entire sequence shot.
  • They actually made it all the way from beginning to end three times.
  • 60 engineers worked on the project.

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