I’ll bet you’ve never heard of S7 Airlines. But you’ll be hearing more about the Russia-based airline now that OK Go released a new video, “Upside Down & Inside Out.”
“Upside Down & Inside Out” is the latest crazy video from OK Go, a band that long ago set the standard for sharing music through viral videos. During “Upside Down & Inside Out,” OK Go band members float, careen, and summersault in a zero-gravity airplane, creating a madcap moment that is typical of OK Go’s work. Oh, and the video is also a product placement for Russian-based S7 Airlines, which made available the plane and receives prominent acknowledgment at the end of the video.
OK Go and S7 Airlines have created a brilliant co-brand that demonstrates the power of content marketing. Musicians and brands have co-branded for decades, with companies acting as sponsors for concerts, concert venues, and musicians themselves, and musicians endorsing products through advertisements. In the 2000s, those relationships have become more sophisticated and content-driven, a trend that has always fascinated me. (In 2012, I created a content-driven co-brand between agency iCrossing and music mogul Jermaine Dupri.)
Back in 2004, Apple and U2 provided one of the landmark moments of music/corporate co-branding through the launch of the iPod U2 Special Edition, housed in a special black case, and laser-engraved with the signatures of each band member on the back. As part of their co-brand, Apple and U2 also made U2’s single “Vertigo” exclusively available on iTunes as well as a first-of-its kind digital box set of U2’s catalog. Alas, years later, Apple and U2 showed us how not to do content co-creation by trying to force consumers to download U2’s album Songs of Innocence, an ironic stumble given how Apple and U2 had succeeded years before.
As OK Go demonstrates, content-based co-branding is not just for A-list musicians and brands. OK Go has famously collaborated with State Farm in the creation of music videos, as has Deerhunter and Intel. With “Upside Down & Inside Out,” OK Go and a lesser-known brand (to American audiences) are demonstrating how to do content co-creation the right way:
- The video is fun, and the song is catchy.
- The branding feels organic: although S7 Airlines receives a thank-you at the end of the video, the real branding occurs throughout the video itself, in which the content (the song and the video of OK Go having a rip-roaring good time) positions S7 as a playful, forward-thinking brand. After all, it’s an S7 Airlines zero-gravity plane that acts as the content-sharing platform.
- OK Go earns your attention. Unlike Apple and U2, which tried to force their ways on to our radar screens with the Songs of Innocence download fiasco, OK Go uses social media (debuting the video on Facebook) and earned media to spread the word (Gizmodo, Rolling Stone, and ABC News are among the news media jumping all over the story.)
Everyone wins. Fans win because we get great content. OK Go wins by promoting new music. And S7 Airlines has just expanded its reach to a global audience.