Consider Rock Star Sting’s association with Jaguar:
In March/2000, Jaguar launched a commercial for the new Jaguar S-Type. Sting is not just featured in the spot; he and his manager pitched the very concept of the campaign to the automobile maker.
In an age when MTV doesn't play music videos, and even if it did, doesn’t play Sting’s, and certainly wouldn't play yours, having a sponsor subsidize your video in return for product placement, –AND organize and pay for a huge media buy on top of it– is a bit different than helping sell cars.
For Jaguar, the opportunity to work with Sting yielded a branding opportunity that was not just entertaining, but in fact proves wildly popular. The association with a vehicle like the Jag no doubt worked to Sting's benefit as well. In fact, what possibly made this campaign unique among TV commercials is the fact that neither artist nor his music were featured only as a means to enhance the sales pitch for the automobile. Rather both car and artist/music were partnered in a clever way to sell each other (!).
You or someone else may dislike the pairing, but both the artist's music and the vehicle emerge as simultaneously contemporary and timeless masterpieces.
This is an important point: The Jaguar ads resemble typical advertising only insofar as one can define advertising as anything that gets attention –which they certainly did –exceeding the expectations of both the artist and his corporate underwriter.
Far from being just another endorsement or sponsorship deal, when we look at this campaign it's easy to envision it as presenting us with a new model for an entirely different kind of music-cum-marketing industry. I describe this new kind of partnership between corporate underwriters and their Strategic Audio Partners as ROCK BRANDS.
In this new paradigm, recording artists (in tandem with their management teams) won't so much do business with advertising companies. Instead they'll present a non-public version of themselves to advertisers as marketing consultants, accommodating representation for a select group of brands that both reflects and enhances the lifestyle and core values of the artist or band.
Artists of various kinds and possessing different skill sets in this arena will deliver varying degrees of input and expertise. Some will be completely hands on. Others will staff their branding/marketing concerns with a professional creative staff that operate integrate the artist's message in their mission statement.
Particularly astute artists won't just show up and do a commercial or put in face-time at an event, but will be active participants in the concepting and production of original marketing strategies for their client/patrons.
In addition to a manager, a lawyer, an agent and publicist, an artist's team will now include a uniquely qualified marketing lead (or brand representative). This person will act as both a brand manager for the artist (or may in fact be the manager of the artist), and as a creative strategist for the artist (for marketing partnerships and projects, not the artist's content, of course).
One can also imagine a need for new kind of consultant –if such people do not already exist (and I think they must)– whose sole purpose is helping artists draft corporate mission statements in order to present these boutique entities not to advertisers, but perhaps to investors and other speculative parties.
For other articles in this series:
ROCK BRANDS: Tomorrow's Rock Star Marketing Partners
Medici Model Revisited
Artist X Brand X Not Available @ iTunes
Strategic Audio Partnerships
Diplomatic Corps Rock Fest