Endorsement Plus: brand building

The old notion of an endorsement deal - whereby an artist could command lofty figures for the most fleeting gesture of brand integration - has been resigned to the dusty vaults of music industry history, as companies and artists seek out new ways to merge their two brands and audiences into a seamless and mutually beneficial whole.

Now, with artists actively seeking out brand alignments, the concept of ‘endorsement +’  - whereby the artist strikes a credible, collaborative role alongside the product they are looking to promote - holds more weight with the audiences of both the brand and the artist’s brand. Generating a credible association with the product from end to end and creating mutually beneficial touch points for each party now means getting stuck in - often turning endorsements into part time employment

We’ve seen plenty of evidence of this of late, with both Lady Gaga and will.i.am joining forces with Polaroid and Intel respectively as Creative Directors - turning what could have been a mere momentary stab of PR face time into a concerted move onto the company's virtual payroll.

Today we see another artist, Ne-Yo, forgoing a standard endorsement pact and being unshered in as Creative Director at drinks brand Malibu. The singer has spent the summer months working collaboratively with the brand on Malibu Red, a mix of rum and tequila, which will hit stores in March 2012.

The singer recently filmed a commercial shoot in Spain, providing the brand with a variety of assets that will help to tell the story of Malibu Red through exclusive music, short films, video and digital conversations and behind-the-scenes content. However, what’s particularly interesting here is how the singer is effectively developing his own sponsor, as the brand he has helped to create will act as headline sponsor of his upcoming concert tour.

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