The Worst Artist & Brand Partnership Deals

The traditional record label’s business model has changed dramatically in the last few years as artists used to solely rely on record sales as their main source of income. Nowadays, artists have alternative means of generating revenue. Some of the more common examples include royalty payments, sync deals, touring, selling merchandise and brand partnerships.

Brand partnerships have become increasingly popular for artists as it can be an extremely powerful marketing strategy for audience building and great exposure for both the artist and the brand. However, it is important to note that the brand and artists ideologies should be aligned to create an authentic campaign. Over the years we have seen many examples of unsuccessful collaborations. Below, I have compiled a list of “how not to” engage in a brand partnership.

Disclaimer: you will definitely cringe.

  1. Bob Dylan & Victoria Secret

This is the definition of an ad campaign gone wrong and it was borderline embarrassing. Bob Dylan’s country/rock vibe did not correspond with Victoria Secret’s brand of women’s lingerie.

2. U2 & Apple

Remember when U2’s album appeared in your music library without your permission? The backlash of that campaign was huge as consumers felt it was extremely intrusive and invasive. U2 received 100 million for this deal so it wasn’t a total loss for them even if it was humiliating that they had to shove their new album down everyone’s necks.

3. Jay-Z and Samsung

Back in 2013, Samsung gave Jay-Z $5 million for 1 million copies of his new album “Magna Carta Holy Grail” so that they could be the first to release the album to Samsung users through a new Android app. During the downloading process, the app crashed, however, it took personal data worth millions. Was this their plan all along? Sleazy deals that exploit consumers is not a good look.

4. Sex Pistols and Virgin

In 2015, the Sex Pistols partnered with Virgin money to launch credit cards that displayed the Sex Pistols artwork. The band is iconic but this is definitely considered hitting rock bottom. 

5. Ringo Star, The Monkees & Pizza Hut

This is definitely the most random ad of them all. There is a stark disconnect between the artists and the brand with a bizarre appearance from a cow to contribute to an already bizarre setting. Ringo hints at a potential reunion of the Beatles and then it somehow ends with the Monkees. I would love to know how much they were paid to feature in the campaign as it had to cost more than their pride.

“There is no such thing as bad publicity” – this may be the case for small businesses with nothing to lose, however, this advice can be detrimental to large corporations and artists when their ad campaigns flop!

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