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The Art of Great Brand Engagement

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h1 All those sounds are real. The only word for it is: amazeballs.

Adfreak on the OK Go Chevy Sonic SuperBowl ad

A few weeks ago, at the Midem conference in Cannes, famed music producer Mark Ronson spoke about his deal to create music for Coca-Cola. One of the questions that came up was about whether or not such a corporate relationship risks having his fans think he's "sold out." Ronson quickly dismissed the idea, noting that, as long as the resulting work is true to his ideals as a music producer, fans actually appreciate the brand for helping artists they love continue to make music. A week later, during the Superbowl, the band Ok Go unveiled their latest music video - which involves them using a Chevy Sonic to play one of their latest songs. It is, undoubtedly, a commercial - but it's a commercial for both the band and the car at the same time. And none of their fans "mind" or think this is problematic. As I write this, the video has over 15 million views (a bunch by me - and if you haven't seen it yet, you really should check it out).

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Yet, at other times, brands have tried to sponsor content, only to find that it doesn't work at all - that fans or communities are indifferent to outright hostile. So what's the difference?

Having been involved in a bunch of marketing campaigns - many that have worked, and a few that have not - it's pretty clear. When trying to engage with an existing community, what works is enabling the site or the artist to do what they do best - often with prominent sponsorship, but without the sponsor driving the content itself. Too often there's a push from a brand to say that, if they're sponsoring, they want the content to be specific to what they're doing - but that rarely works. Fans and communities immediately see through such content and move on. But when a brand enables a content creator to do what they want to do, especially if it takes the content even further, then fans appreciate that.

We've had campaigns where large segments of our community were publicly thanking the sponsor. And those were cases where the sponsorship, while clear, was focused on allowing us to do more of what we knew our community wanted, rather than trying to figure out some way to make a commercial. That's what Mark Ronson is doing with Coke and it's what Ok Go is doing with Chevy. The brand is enabling something great, but it's trusting the content creators to make it great.

Mike Masnick is the editor-in-chief of Techdirt and a SAY Media partner.

[Image credit: Ok Go / Chevrolet Super Bowl Ad]

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