Co-brands between artists and celebrities are all the rage, as evidenced recently by the launch of Justin Timberlake’s relationship with Budweiser and Alicia Keys’s co-brand with Blackberry. At the Forrester Research Marketing Forum April 19, Christopher Swope of Live Nation provided a case study on how artists and brands can work together to deliver results. His discussion focused on how Madonna and Smirnoff, by tapping into shared passions such as dancing and music, generated 1.8 billion media impressions for Smirnoff and helped Madonna undertake the highest grossing tour of 2012.
As Swope pointed out, brands and musicians actually have a long history of working together, examples being Microsoft using the Rolling Stones’s “Start Me Up” to launch Windows 95 and the collaboration between Apple and U2 to cross-promote U2’s “Vertigo” with a special edition iPod. In the best cases, co-brands meet mutually defined goals, and the relationship between Smirnoff and Madonna was one such success.
The relationship began with a business challenge for Smirnoff: accelerate consumer engagement with the Smirnoff brand on a global level.
“We wanted to find a way to accelerate the growth of the Smirnoff brand and generate engagement,” Swope said. “We wanted to take the brand to the next level and deepen engagement and participation.”
Smirnoff knew its fans are socially savvy. So for Smirnoff, building a brand was less about “let’s sponsor and put our name on it” but rather to generate engagement and deepen relationships with fans.
“When you are giving a dinner party, you worry about the right ingredients — mix of cocktails and people,” he said. “You want to create an experience that deepens relationships. That’s how to think about social.”