How using artists in their marketing strategy has been invaluable for 5 major brands May 23, 2018

Pop My Mind summarises how 5 major brands have made themselves synonymous with cutting-edge culture using the power of the creative arts. By collaborating with talented artists, musicians and creatives on simple and effective projects, these brands have greatly enhanced their brand identity and built relationships with key target audiences.

Read how and what value this adds to each brand below…


Artists: Various from around the world – Jenny Odell, Oli-B, Fuchsia MacAree and Gary Kelley

Project: The Data Center Mural Project

Date: 2016 – present (ongoing)

About: Launched in 2016, Google partnered with individual artists to “visually showcase the magic of the data centers” on the buildings themselves. The artists and engineers involved created colourful, uplifting, large-scale murals inspired by the technology and setting of the data centers on the side of their warehouses (where ‘the cloud’ data is stored).

Outcome: Making Google’s properties reflect the values of their organisation.

Image credit: Data Center Murals with Google

Benefits of working with artists:

  • Impressive large-scale artworks make this an extremely shareable project, making for huge PR coverage
  • Acts as a visual representation of the ambition and scope of Google and its products
  • Using local artists gives an authentic ‘local-but-global’ feel to the project
  • Generates loads of high-quality video content in terms of interviews with artists, behind-the-scenes insight into the data centers, etc.
  • Transforms a relatively dull concept (data storage) and area into something extraordinary
  • Shows that Google is connected to current culture and supports creativity and artistic progress
  • Ability to showcase the interesting characters who work in Google buildings, giving a personal perspective of the huge company. This strengthens trust and loyalty between both Google and their consumers, as well as Google and their staff who are showcased alongside the artists.


Artists: Various

Project: Converse Collaborations

Date: Ongoing

About: Converse is a prolific collaborator with talents such as artists, celebrities, agencies, other fashion labels and popular cultural icons. For example, one new project features L.A.-based superstar tattoo artist Dr. Woo inking up two Converse Chuck 70s shoes, which are sold as both hand-made one-offs and a small batch of limited edition pairs.

Outcome: Having cultural icons being brand ambassadors for their products makes the brand synonymous with on-trend alternative lifestyle and culture.

Image credit: Hypebeast

Benefits of working with artists:

  • The consistent, ongoing nature of the collaborations gives Converse a reputation for being part of current culture
  • Establishes their consumer base as people interested in fashion, art and discovery, strengthening Converse’s community and bond with consumers
  • The brand works with daring (but still popular) artists – which makes a much bigger statement than working with more ‘mainstream’ or ‘safe’ artists

“We want to be with people that other brands would rather not play with because they might be a little bit too dangerous or unsafe or unpredictable. We like that that.”

 Julien Cahn, Converse Chief Marketing Officer 

  • Opting to work with some lesser known talent with a niche consumer base gives Converse authenticity and aligns with their brand image of being an urban, youthful and affordable
  • Gives Converse access to the audience of their collaborators, increasing their reach to new consumers
  • Working with artists who wear converse make it an aspirational lifestyle product, increasing the percieved value of the shoes since the general public often admire and try to emulate artists
  • Gives Converse a wealth of new visual content to share for marketing purposes
  • Brings constant innovation and new designs to their product range
  • Increases pricing of their product due to limited edition and curated nature of their shoes

“Converse consistently works with artists because it sees its shoes as a canvas of creativity, and sees artists as the driving force of creating exciting and innovative connections with consumers through culture.”

– Rachel Somers Miles, Huffington Post


Artists: Various well-known artists and designers

Project: IKEA Collaborations

Date: 2016 – present (ongoing)

About: Over the past few years, IKEA has been collaborating with various artists and designers to produce limited edition product collections. Recent projects include a collaboration with Hasselblad and seven photographers to provide photography prints in their shops, and working with 10 designers from African design collective ÖVERALLT.

Outcome: Exciting new products are created every season, and IKEA consistently builds on brand reputation for being trendy, high-quality and relevant.

Image credit: IKEA today

Benefits of working with artists:

  • Higher perceived value of product range due to their original and seasonal nature
  • Constant fresh product ranges in contemporary and visually striking designs
  • Ability to target certain customer groups, such as Steven Harrington’s collection appealing to a younger audience. Thus Smirnoff can reach new consumers or strengthen bonds with specific existing consumer segments
  • Responding to changes in customer needs for products with more emotional value rather than practical benefits. “This trend seems especially strong for millennials who put higher value on emotional features, such as art and design, in order to create a home that is unique and aligns with their personality.”Hassleblad
  • Gives IKEA an image of being culturally relevant, informed and on-trend
  • Working with well-known artists gives IKEA credibility and a ‘wow-factor’ as a brand
  • Consistency with their brand values that “everyone is a designer”

“IKEA has set out on a journey to democratize art and make it available to everyone. “

– Hassleblad



Artist: Various up-and-coming talents of mixed backgrounds and identities

Project: Smirnoff Sound Collective and We’re Open

Date: Launched in 2016 – 2017

About: Smirnoff has been involved in the music scene for many years and has created multiple projects and live events around music, as well as sponsoring the largest festivals in the UK.

For example, partnering with music brand Mixmag, Smirnoff founded the Smirnoff Sound Collective in 2016, finishing in 2017, to offer mentorship to up-and-coming talent from an array of backgrounds. More recently they have launched their We’re open campaign, bringing together transgender and non-binary artists and performers in partnership with the LGBT Foundation (you’ll hear more about this incredible charity on this blog very soon, but more of that later), aiming to improve inclusivity in nightlife culture.

Outcome: A brand using its status to bring about positive social change and support its consumers, creating loyal customers and huge PR potential.

Image credit: Smirnoff

Benefits of working with artists:

  • Smirnoff uses its brand to open up dialogue about important issues, for example using the We’re Open campaign and doing limited edition bottles like the Choose Love edition in 2017 to support British Pride
  • Actively improving diversity in the music scene by using their status to positively contribute towards progressing culture
  • By talking about these issues and partnering with organisations such as the LGBT community, Smirnoff reaches new audiences
  • Forms strong relationships between Smirnoff and its consumers, since it taps into issues that are fundamentally important to its audience

“The big idea for Smirnoff is to create a lifestyle for its brand, developing a welcoming environment that associates a positive experience with its products through the #PowerOfMusic.”

Tuned Global

  • These activities provide a strong, clear message which distinguishes Smirnoff from its competitors
  • These campaigns and events provide a platform to soft-sell their brand and drink
  • Be hosting events, Smirnoff can sell their vodka and encourage customers to switch brand loyalty to their products


Artist: Various

Project: Music x Technology

Date: 2016-2017

About: Microsoft launched a website Music x Technology to showcase musicians and how they use Microsoft technology to make forward-thinking music a more holistic experience. This involves bringing to life live visuals, advance lighting and video effects, launching games, and much more. This has been documented in interviews and videos and includes artists like Alison Wonderland, Phantomgram, mau5trap, Childish Gambino, and Broods.

 “Music x Technology currently serves as a website which highlights artists like Deadmau5, Matthew Dear, Phantogram and more while pairing the musicians with Microsoft tools.”


Microsoft has also previously created OneBeat Labs with One Beat, connecting brands to the electronic dance music scene, as well as using famous tracks in their advertisements.

Outcome: Showcases the incredible creative potential of their products in engaging ways that involve Microsoft’s audience.

Image credit: Microsoft

Benefits of working with artists:

  • This project showcases how Microsoft technology can be used in versatile and powerful ways, promoting the benefits and possibilities of the products
  • Technology can be a very dry subject for some audiences – so showing how people can use it creatively makes it a much more interesting subject with storytelling elements
  • The content created in these collaborations is extremely impactful and inspirational – making it more shareable for PR and press opportunities
  • By working with creative partners, Microsoft effectively expands their reach to new consumer bases
  • The partners become supportive brand ambassadors of Microsoft technology
  • The interviews and behind-the-scenes videos surrounding these projects generates loads of engaging marketing content for the brand
  • These projects put Microsoft on the map as a key player in the electronic music scene, opening the doors for more well-known partnerships in the future

In summary…

Whether being used as a soft-sell promotional tool for their products, actively inspiring new limited-edition product ranges, or tying the brand with meaningful issues, in all cases partnering with artists has been invaluable for these five brands.

Not only does it provide a huge amount of external press and PR opportunities for the company, the partnerships highlight and strengthen key areas in the brand’s own values. The brand and is products therefore gain significant cultural prestige and establish strong relationships with targeted audiences who relate to the brand and its message.

How to begin your collaboration with artists

If you want your brand to collaborate with up-and-coming artists to tap into these same benefits, feel free to contact our team and we’d be happy to advise you on where to start. | 01986 895848 | 07476 226730

If you’re an artist or creative keen to collaborate with organisations and other talented folk, then please drop James a message and he can talk to you how it all works at Pop My Mind. | 07938 309342


Header image: Futura’s collaboration with Converse, image sourced here.

Written by Karis Lambert