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Brands play 'incredible role' in culture

News, 26 June 2015

LONDON: As 135,000 people trek to a Somerset farm for the weekend, the UK's summer festival season has officially started and brands have an important role to play in making this a success.

The Glastonbury festival is now far removed from its alternative roots when 1,500 people paid £1 (plus free milk) to see T.Rex play. This year's festival-goers will have shelled out £225 for the opportunity to see hundreds of acts on a multitude of stages along with the chance to hear the Dalai Lama give a talk.

And the participation of brands such as The Guardian, EE and Orange helps make the creation of a temporary town in the English countryside possible.

Metallica headlined the main stage at Glastonbury last year and drummer Lars Ulrich was in Cannes this week to explain how the band has changed its attitude towards working with brands. Where once it was "no f***ing way", he said that "we're definitely open to it now", Billboard reported.

One example of the band's new win-win thinking came when it teamed up with Coke Zero to play a gig in Antarctica. Similarly, DJ David Guetta says that if collaborations are approached in the right manner then a synergy can be achieved that benefits both sides.

"I believe we've come to a stage where brands are the number one content and experience producers," he told The Drum. "So, when I work with a brand, it gives me a platform to offer my fans something unique: either a crazy piece of content or an unbelievable experience."

And while "brands can play an incredible role in culture", he cautioned against them expecting the artist to be a salesman: "both parties have to meet half-way – they have to imagine a story that puts the consumer at the very centre. That's the only way to make it authentic for both the brand and the talent at the same time."

A report last year from music agency Frukt – Brands & Bands: The Value Exchange – also emphasised the need for artists not to see brand tie-ups as simply a paycheck. Its survey pointed to brand partnerships becoming "an integral part of an artist's overall career trajectory".

Data sourced from The Drum, Billboard, Frukat; additional content by Warc staff