Songs with a brand: 5 examples of artist/brand collaborations

Recently I was trying to hunt down some info on Noel Gallagher’s upcoming debut album.  So to YouTube I went and moments later I was listening to the song, but also watching a car ad for British company Vauxhall.

What is it with musicians these days?  More and more artists and companies are collaborating to promote both their songs and their brands.

Although not a new phenomenon, through various placement and collaboration strategies, the integration between brands and musicians has certainly become much more noticeable in recent times.  But are artists “selling out” by looking for new revenue streams or is it a strategy where both parties can win?

And what about product placement so overt where song becomes practically an infomercial for the brand?  Does this cross the line for both the artist and the brand causing damage to both?

Well it can work wonders or fail miserably.

Let’s take a look at 5 examples.  How did we rate the song, the sell-out factor and the benefit to the brand?

Julian Casablancas, Santogold and Pharrell ­– My Drive Thru

The first entry on this list sees three diverse artists collaborate to promote Converse (as part of their Century campaign).  Indie-rock, style icon and all round nice guy (trust us we know) Julian Casablancas, hip hop/electronica star Santogold and super producer Pharrell (also of N.E.R.D and Neptunes fame) produce a catchy tune, which although doesn’t name drop Converse, was hugely successful.

The video is essentially a 2 and a half minute ad for Converse; however the slick production makes it a joy to watch.  Released as a free download and with over a million views on YouTube, both the artists and the brand win with this collaboration.

Song Rating: 4/5

Sell-out Rating: 2/5

Brand Benefit:5/5

Jack White – the Coke song

If any artist seemed against doing a blatant advertisement for a multinational corporation it was Jack White.  Indie, blues and lo-fi hero, Jack White has been harshly critical of many aspects commercial life.  However in 2005 he teamed up with Coca-Cola penning “What goes around comes around”, which accompanied a pretty Coca-Cola commercial.

Although Jack probably wrote it in 5 minutes, the song isn’t terrible.  An uplifting yet easy-going tune, it complements the Coca-Cola brand well and probably wouldn’t sound out of place on the “Get Behind Me Satan” LP.

Song Rating: 3/5

Sell-Out Rating: 3/5

Brand Rating: 4/5

Bruce Springsteen – Cadillac Ranch

For years rappers have been overtly flaunting and promoting their cars (it’s a well known fact that Jay-Z owns 23 Rolls Royces, a Lexus and 47 Maybacs).  However, even Bruce Springsteen, one of the pillars of classic/homeland rock loves his wheels and makes this list with his love letter to Cadillac Ranch.

Name dropping Cadillac over one of his weaker tunes, this wasn’t The Boss’s finest moment. It probably worked wonders for Cadillac though.

Song Rating: 2/5*

Sell-Out Rating: 3/5

Brand Rating: 4/5

(*This rating was based on the album version. This live version is easily a 5/5)

Dire Straits – Money for Nothing

In another contribution from the classic rock genre and in one of the first computer-animated music videos, Mark Knopfler and co. deliver a blatant advertisement for MTV.  With the “I want my MTV intro”, some nonsensical lyrics, and fluorescent headbands this it isn’t Dire Strait’s finest moment (seriously nothing even comes close to Sultans of Swing).

However, the song was majorly successful in promoting the music video industry and does have a pretty awesome Billy Gibbons inspired riff.

Song Rating: 3.5/5

Sell-out rating 4/5

Brand Rating: 5/5

Nelly – Air Force Ones

To wrap up this list we look at something truly awful.

Nelly and his crew spend the entire song rapping about how awesome these Nike shoes are.  After 4 minutes of lyrical virtuosity you know: what styles and colours they come in, how they make Nelly irresistible to the ladies, and how Nelly has literally killed people who touch his shoes.

If this isn’t enough, Footlocker is name dropped, so if you were unsure of where to pick up a pair you now know where to go.

Cringe worthy.  We recommend listening to this song on mute.

Song Rating: 0/5

Sell-out Rating: 5/5

Brand Rating: 0/5

Did we miss any of your favourite or despised musicians/brand collaborations?

Sound off in the comments or send us a tweet.

// Alec Schumann

About AnthonySchumann
Subtle Bravado // Creative Boutique. Ted Anthony - Vision Alec Schumann - Creative Follow @AnthonySchumann

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