The Secret To Brand Engagement Is For Brands To Support The Creative Process, But Not Meddle With The Creative Process

from the that-would-be-ideal dept

We've talked an awful lot about the intersection between advertising and content over the years, and have been especially interested in how brands can and do interact with various content offerings. But, we always hear fears about how this can equate to "selling out" or somehow weakening the content for creators. And, it should be admitted that this is a legitimate fear if the brand demands too much control. For our media partner, Say Media, I recently wrote up a column pointing out how the problems for brands and content come in when the brands get involved in the actual creative process. However, when they let the content creators create what they want, and simply act as supporters of that process, rather than drivers of it, the creators can retain the artistic integrity, and there's no issue of "selling out." Then it becomes a case of brands supporting an artist -- which fans love -- rather than co-opting an artist, which fans hate.

Over the years, we've noticed that this is definitely a struggle for some brands. As soon as they dump money into a campaign, it's their natural inclination to want to control every aspect of the content that comes out of that campaign -- and that's a huge mistake. We've seen that the more involved a brand is in the campaign, the less effective the campaign is for absolutely everyone. Brands sponsor content creators because they know those content creators have built up a following and can create great content. They need to extend that trust to the point that if they sponsor content creation, the give the creators the free will to do something amazing. Brands may be good at "branding," but if they meddle directly in content creation, the end result doesn't really help anyone.
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Filed Under: brand engagement, brands, content creation, marketing, sponsorshiop


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  1. icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), 15 Apr 2012 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Does it lead to measurable results?

    I did a bit of reading on RBMA. I could just reply to you directly, but I thought I would post here.

    First, I notice that on the site there is this:

    "The Red Bull Music Academy is not a sponsored event, but a long-term music initiative, committed to fostering creative exchange amongst those who have made and continue to make a difference in the world of sound."

    Although it may not be a sponsorship by Red Bull's definition, it is still a branding opportunity for Red Bull.

    I was mentally comparing sports and creative sponsorships. For sports, the sponsor generally backs either

    1. The athlete.
    2. The event (e.g., X Games, Olympics).
    3. A process (this isn't as common, but it is possible that a company might sponsor sports-related workshops or camps).
    4. A stunt.

    For creative endeavors, the sponsor can back
    1. The artist.
    2. The output (e.g., a song, a painting).
    3. An event (e.g. festival, contest).
    4. A process (e.g., the Red Bull Academy).

    When I was first making this list, I didn't have a sports equivalent to an artist creation (a stand-alone thing or concept), but then I remembered there are athletes who try to break records and get sponsors for those particular acts.

    The disadvantage of sponsoring individuals (be they athletes or artists) is that you have to deal with their personalities and whatever ups and downs they have. If you sponsor an event, the participants come and go, but the event can continue from year to year. So an athlete or artist that wants corporate sponsorship has to show the company that dealing with him/her is a better/easier relationship than giving money to a hopefully well-run event.

    In terms of individual outputs, an output in the arts is better than a stunt in sports because there's a longer life to a song or a painting than there is to having an athlete flying off a mountain or jumping over lots of cars. But for an extreme sport sponsor, a stunt might have a lot of value, particularly now that a spectacular success or a spectacular failure can go viral on YouYube. (There's little/no value in paying for a very bad song, but paying for a guy to slam into a mountain could be more than worth the sponsorship in terms of publicity. (Death/injury in extreme sports is not necessarily a negative for an extreme sports sponsor.)

    Anyway, getting back to RBMA. I looked for, but didn't see any criticism of the program. So it looks like it is serving Red Bull branding quite well.

    However, I'll add that from my own observations, whenever there is a festival, sponsorship, workshop, etc., that picks some applicants and not others, there's some grumbling somewhere. Typical complaints include: The selections are too narrow. The judges are promoting a certain style. The event/judges are too incestuous. And so on.

    But my usual response to those is this: If you are unhappy with the event or see an under-served niche, create your own. That's how we get lots of different film festivals, or music festivals, or arts non-profits. If someone else isn't doing what you want, do it yourself.

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