OK Go Frontman On Branded Content: Risk is a Must [VIDEO]

For Advertising Age’s Creativity 50 series, OK Go band frontman Damian Kulash shared his thoughts on successfully creating branded content. One the most memorable videos of the past decade is OK Go’s treadmill inspired music video for “Here It Goes Again.”

The “band-slash-creative-think-tank” has produced award-winning brand collaborations such as “All Is Not Lost,” a multiplatform push for Google Japan, and the Chevy’s Super Bowl music video.

In an era where musicians and artists are struggling with the demands of free culture and how to make money from their product, OK Go has found an alternative. For the past three years the band has worked with brands as an alternative to major-label funding.

The key to success was that the bands they worked with “only tried to achieve goals that made sense for both of our brands,” Kulash says.

Of the types of brands Kulash has most enjoyed working with, he told Advertising Age that a few have pushed their creativity to new heights and sent a “brief or a challenge, rather than their agency sending us a polished treatment in which we show up and play the role of ourselves.”

Above all else, Kulash said that brands’ willingness to take a risks was most important factor in creating creative content:

“Most folks in the content-making world do all of their imagining in advance; they plan and storyboard everything out carefully, and then execute as efficiently and precisely as possible  We invest a lot in the middle of the process: Once we have the basic idea, we get in situ and start playing to see what new ideas emerge. This type of inefficiency is the risk that comes with our process, but it’s just one of thousands of rules that brands may have to break if they want to really push creativity forward.”

The lesson from OK Go is when creating content as a product, brands must allow for a certain amount of freedom to achieve what’s really valuable: being able to produce material that hasn’t been made before.

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