Ford: Gimme The Gig

Battle of the Bands competitions saturated the market a few years back, as brands latched on to the low cost digital UGC platform in a bid to connect with the unsigned music masses.  However, although the intentions were good, the execution - and particularly the aftercare service – didn’t always match users or brands expectations.  As a result the medium became something of a buzz word for stale ideas, as brands moved towards more collaborative and exciting work with music artists by harnessing the creativity at the core of the music process and not merely a means to a prize.

That said there are still many BOTB style campaigns running across the globe, and some are proving that there may be life in the medium yet.

One such campaign is ‘Gimme The Gig’ an initiative set in motion last summer by Ford in order to draw attention to the Ford Fiesta. The seven-month digital campaign (which is still running) acts as a showcase for emerging bands, tempting them in with the promise of getting their music put into production by Grammy Award winning producer Don Was.  The competition features UGC video submissions, a fan voting process and a live event at Whisky a Go Go to whittle the bands down to an eventual winner.

Was will produce two original tracks with the winning group with all production, studio fees, remixing, etc paid for by Ford. The band itself retains all right to the work that is produced.

In many ways the campaign has all the standard elements of a stalwart BOTB comp, including the oft-criticised baggage. The argument here is that bands need more than a quick burst of celebrity value or production in order to make it in the turbulent music industry of 2011, and that marketing and integration with the brand (whether in an ad or a long term program) is ultimately more beneficial than a fleeting prize win.

However, there is a flip side and that is the relative value to the brand. In this particular case Ford managed to net a sizeable takeaway from the campaign, citing a total of around 250,000 people voting online and a tactile “14,000 hand-raisers” from the accompanying live events.

The reason the BOTB effort works is down to the fact that Ford toured the campaign live, letting bands perform across 75 locations in Western America (with Ford Fiestas, product experts and test drives available at the events).

What’s interesting here is the parallel with the music industry itself, which now relies so heavily on artists touring at a time when record sales are no longer the main revenue driver. It now seems in order to make the BOTB mechanic work brands and also required to take their once easy option digital UGC promotion on the road.

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