Thursday, July 1, 2010

OK Go: Not your run of the [tread]mill viral campaign.

If you’ve had access to the Internet in the past 4 years, you’ve probably heard of indie rock band OK Go. But you don’t have to love their music to have spent hours watching and sharing their videos on YouTube. In fact, some might say that their YouTube fame precedes their music, and more often than not these videos receive better critical acclaim than their albums.

Their first viral video launched in 1998 (so, yeah, really early) and their most famous, career launching video featuring choreographed dances on treadmills debuted in 2006 with the song “Here It Goes Again.” We’ve embedded the video just to “jog” your memory.


And now, their latest Rube Goldberg inspired video creation for “This Too Shall Pass” is following suit, garnering heavy attention (media and otherwise) as well as oodles of plays.


Based on their video success, you’d think they’d be one of top iTunes downloads and leading the charts. Wrong. Well they must make pretty good music, then, right? Not really. It’s certainly not as creative as the videos.

With plummeting record sales, especially from their latest album (about 20K), yet soaring video plays (more than 16 million for “This Too Shall Pass”), they are kind of a marketing enigma. In a recent interview with 944 Magazine, they divulged that their creative process starts with a video concept for which the song is written, and that their sale of funny hats brings in more revenue than their albums and concerts.

At first glance, they seem like they’re doing all of the right things – making watchable videos, capitalizing on cross-marketing merchandise and getting their music heard by people through really successful viral campaigns. But what about the sales?!? This made us totally freak out! From our perspective, everything is working but still not producing what seemed to be the primary goal… album sales.

The truth is, Ok Go is a new breed of band that doesn’t necessarily see their first artistic motivation as the music itself. Nor do they seem to care that they are financially dependent on secondary revenue. While many mediocre bands like them have come and gone because they haven’t had the musical panache to differentiate themselves, Ok Go is still out there making music. And, even if the video counterparts are stealing the show, they’re still being watched and allowing them to get attention and exposure.

The lesson we can learn here is that no amount of marketing is going to make people want and need your product. But really GOOD marketing can give a lackluster product a fighting chance and the opportunity to create a following. Imagine if Ok Go hadn’t made these videos and started campaigning? They’d probably still be at home playing in their garage and selling even fewer albums.

The Black Sheep verdict: They may have OK music, but their marketing is a definite “go.”

Here are some more of their latest little nuggets of genius:






4 comments:

Anonymous said...

You should really listen to their whole records. There are very good songs in there. Listen to "All Is Not Lost" on their new record, Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky.

Aimee said...

Thanks for your comment, Ok-Go Fan. We're actually HUGE fans of the band as well. The reason we didn't give their music a more glowing review is because CRITICALLY, it didn't get rave reviews. Along with lots of other folks, we dig their music, but this isn't a blog about album reviews... it's about PR and marketing, and the strategy behind it. We wanted to point out popular opinion and the marketing strategy that developed as a result of it. Because while the music is good, the creative strategy knocks our socks off.

Aimee said...

Thanks for your comment, Ok-Go Fan. We're actually huge fans of the band as well. Trust me. I've been listening to "This Too Shall Pass" on repeat for weeks.

The reason we didn't give their music a more glowing review is because CRITICALLY, it didn't do very well. Along with lots of others, we're big fans of their music, but this isn't a blog about album reviews... It's about marketing and PR and the creative strategy behind it.

So, what we really wanted to draw attention to is popular opinion and the marketing strategy that developed as a result of it. Because that... that really knocked our socks off.

Check out Baahbara Ann's (our Spokessheep) Facebook page. Ok-Go is actually her favorite band and she posts videos all of the time. (She's obsessed.) www.facebook.com/baahbara

Christine said...

Excellent post, Aimee; excellent riposte, as well! I for one appreciate your fresh take on PR and marketing and look elsewhere for my music reviews :) I FURTHER appreciate the bonus OK Go nuggets! Keep up with your baa-aad self...