Brands wishing to create a multi-channel experience for consumers need look no further than cartoon band Gorillaz for inspiration. Fans who bought the experience edition of their long awaited third album Plastic Beach are treated to dazzling original artwork, an original DVD documentary and access to exclusive online content which includes a video game as well as, of course, 16 new tracks.
In terms of creating a multi-channel experience with which to connect with fans they are light years ahead of their competitive set. Helped by the download generation, all too often music is reduced to a commodity for which any money at all is sometimes seen as too much. “Where is the love?” you might well ask.
Concept albums are, mercifully some might say, largely a relic of the 1970s. Cadbury TV ads are normally as close as prog rock artists get to the world of marketing these days. However, like all fads, occasionally they tend to grow tired of resting in the great trend bank in the sky and come back to haunt us. With its engaging story and world of make believe, Plastic Beach is (whisper it quietly) a sort of modern concept album.
The comparisons between band and brand management do not stop here; how many times has a band jumped the shark and produced a brand extension too far? The rock and roll hall of fame is replete with examples of Spinal Tap levels of excess. Perhaps all that really makes up Sugababes is their ‘brand’ with all three founding members now gone on to better things. But with Gorillaz’s cartoon band 360 degree assault on the senses, I can’t help feeling that they succeed at what so many brands pay millions to do and fail.
As with brands, we experience only a limited portion of the band’s total entity, the tip of the iceberg, from which to create perceptions of a world that lies beneath the surface and which create a position in consumers’ minds. And maybe this is where brands may take particular heed of what Gorillaz have done with Plastic Beach. The consistency of the experience across all channels of Plastic Beach leaves me in no doubt of what Gorillaz are all about and what makes them different, which for brands means increased engagement, loyalty and eventually frequency of purchase. Unfortunately because so many other people also want to connect with the full 360 degree Plastic Beach experience, I’m unlikely to find out how on brand the live performance is.