Over the last few years or so music has played a huge part in brands communication efforts especially here in the UK whilst it has always been quite popular in the states. Brands have turned to musicians as the bridge between the brand and their consumers. Notable collaborations over the last few years include Stomzy & adidas, Skepta & Nike or Krept & Konan & Puma. It has now become a much more popular approach from brands, likely due to the correlation in the successes of the UK urban music industry.
I’m very skeptical about brands collaborating with music artists in the UK. Reason being is as UK artists, specifically those within the urban genre become more popular it is an opportunity for brands especially those that operate in the UK to jump on the bandwagon and invest into them despite the fact the brand may not even align with the artist they are trying to collaborate with or the artist story doesn’t tell that of the brand well.
There are some brand collaborations that I don’t think has worked well and has seemed more of an attempt to jump on the bandwagon or gain instant gratification without any scope for longevity or an effective partnership. Nevertheless here are our Top 5 campaigns you ought to know about and a brief analysis on the campaign/collaboration with reasons why I think they have worked.
1. Headie One: Glitch Agency: Iris Worldwide Client: adidas GLITCH Earlier this month, Tottenham rapper Headie One who is a personal favourite of mine collaborated with adidas’ Glitch for a bespoke chicken shop experience. Glitch which is the world’s first interchangeable football boot under adidas launched it’s new football boot range “Prep Pack” and chose none other than the most innovative rapper in the country right now to launch it. Whilst driving app downloads and brand awarness for the innovative brand, Glitch took over an East London chicken shop rebranding it with Glitch branding but still keeping the common features of your typical London chicken shop; so from the chicken boxes to the outdoor neon sign. The inspiratiion for the “Prep Pack” comes from hard work that is engraved into London youth culture and is very well identifiable with the long hours spent on the pitch where the reward for footballers post-match would be the local takeaway hence the concept. The collaboration only made sense as Headie One is a rapper who admires football culture and displays this within a majority of his lyrics such as “excllent finish, Mo Salah” or “OFB won the Golden Boot” and the list continues. His innovative take on his music has lead to many successes over the last year and counting. The best thing about collaborating with musicians is when they can be themselves without comprising the quality outcome of the campaign and feel this was achieved by GLITCH & Headie One in this instance.
Source: Headie One posing in the adidas GLITCH bespoke chicken shop
Michael Dapaah: Trailine Voice App Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty Client: Trainline Although Michael Dapaah is not necessarily a music artist, his alter ego Big Shaq is and has recently been featured in many campaigns including the renowned “Nothing Beats a LNDR” which won a Grand Prix at the recent Cannes Lions Festival. He also collaborated with Nike & Tiger Woods, Lynx & many other reputable brands. One brand collaboration that I thought was cool was his campaign with Trainline. The independant digital rail platform which has a mobile app were celebrating their voice app built for the Google assistant. Their online ad/film featured the rap character Big Shaq going head to head with Trainline’s voice app which responded to to his questions about rail travel through rap rhymes. The collaboration to me was right as the Big Shaq character was allowed to play his character well by taking on his usual comedic rap but applying it to the trainlines' needs and making it relatable to consumers in a fun & exciting way not losing one bit of the Big Shaq character or culture whilst doing so. In addition to this, it wasn’t too soon after the Big Shaq buzz commenced which would had left them jumping onto the bandwagon if it was, so in a nutshell the timing was right, the fit was right and the brand was right.
Source: Michael Dapaah x Trainline
Giggs: Do what moves you
Agency: VARIOUS Client: Bacardi
The Bacardi “Do What Moves You” campaign aims to shine a spotlight on its “belief in self-expression” as it looks to boost loyalty among 18-25 year olds. The £12 million marketing push consisted of a 360 degree, fully integrated campaign that included collaboration with music artists such Giggs, Stefflon Don & Bugzy Malone in their respective cities. Giggs’ partnership with Bacardi included branded content as well as a performance at The Oval, London.
At first I thought; Giggs & Bacardi? How does that make sense? Then I looked more into Bacardi’s positioning and the space they were aiming to get into then realised that Giggs was the perfect artist to use for this as the Peckham star is currently in his element as an artist and comes from a place where there were many hardships in an attempt to chase his music dream. This goes deeper into a time where police restrictions & street life didn’t allow him to express himself as an artist but now is in a place where he can create the music he wants and express it in the way he wants. Giggs also appeared in the legendary Nothing Beats a LNDR advert with Nike.
Source: Giggs - Do What Moves You
Sneakbo: Roads2Success Agency: N/A Client: Footasylum As one of the most notable streetwear fashion stores in the country it only makes sense that the brand would return to the same place where their consumers are based; the streets. Footasylum collaborated with Brixton rap artist Sneakbo in a short film where almost a decade into the game he took us on a journey around his hometown Brixton which was an inspiration for his debut album; Brixton. A guy whose music reflects the streets and a genre influenced by the environment he grew up in was one of the originators of a sound that is very popular in the music scene and on the streets right now. To me the film was authentic from Footasylum as there was no glitz or glamour in the production as well as in the story being told. It was a true reflection of Sneakbo as a person and felt that Sneakbo had a lot of creative control in the output of the film. This is key from brands as a natural collaboration works for both the brand and the artist. Footasylum's promotion of the Nike Air Max 1 is also spot on in regards to the content used as they are a pair trainers that I myself have purchased and worn in the past and have seen many others do the same.
Source: Sneakbo x Footasylum
Lady Leshur: #ZEROREGRETS Client: HSBC Agency: We Are Social As an entertainment agency with a social mission at it’s core, It’s only right we end on a campaign that was created with a social purpose as well one that involves a female music artist. I contemplated discussing Nadia Rose’s collaboration with Barclaycard which consisted of a fairy tale inspired ad and aimed to encourage & inspire people to put their dreams into action however it felt a bit cheesy to me and the authenticity of the partnership for me didn’t align. However this lead me to another campaign also with a female MC and also in partnership with a bank; a bit older but still holds relevant value. Birmingham rapper Lady Leshur collaborated with HSBC to produce #ZEROREGRETS, this was a campaign aimed to give young people the confidence to experience opportunities available to them without financial fears standing in their way in aim to grow their student account sign-ups. The campaign consisted of a music video starring and performed by Lady Leshur which was launched via various social media channels on 2017 A Level results day. With Nadia Rose it seemed as though Barclaycard had more control over the outcome whilst it seemed as though Lady Leshur had more creative control in the campaign as well as the video featuring real students and apprentices.
Source: Lady Leshur music video for #ZEROREGRETS
I think it’s fair to say that there are many brands getting their strategies and positioning wrong all for the love of popularity which has lead them playing a numbers game rather than focusing on what is real and what aligns with their brands values etc. I’m not sure what the reward for playing a numbers game successfully but I’m sure that the real will always win in the end. Above are only a few good examples of brands that are getting it right and honouring the brand. As an entertainment agency one of our aims is to work with brands to ensure that they stay true to themselves.