Can Digital Audio Be Big For Branding? Bacardi Experiments With SoundCloud To Find Out

Bacardi sees a big branding opportunity in digital audio.

The rum brand turned to SoundCloud to launch an experiential activation with electronic music trio Major Lazer as part of an ongoing campaign that centers on music and dance.

Starting Tuesday, artists from the US, the Bahamas and Puerto Rico can upload Bacardi-inspired tracks to SoundCloud for a chance to be mentored by Major Lazer through the platform’s commenting feature and expose their music to the world. When the campaign wraps in October, the four most popular artists will be selected to shoot a music video sponsored by Bacardi.

While Bacardi has bought media from SoundCloud in the past, this campaign marks the first major branding partnership between the two companies, said Bacardi global creative excellence director Laila Mignoni.

SoundCloud is a step ahead of its peers when it comes to branding, she said, because of the way it nurtures its community. “That’s the whole purpose of the platform.”

It’s also the first paid promotional opportunity for tracks on the home page of SoundCloud’s mobile app. Top songs from the campaign will be promoted by Bacardi on SoundCloud’s app so they stay at the top of the feed, rather than getting buried beneath other artists.

“Our goal is to bring brands like Bacardi opportunities to support creator growth and connect them with our audience,” said Chris Blackburn, head of global sales and partnerships at SoundCloud.

Bacardi will measure success based on reach and how much time people spend engaging with the artists and their tracks, Mignoni said.

But the brand’s partnership with SoundCloud signals a deeper interest in digital audio as a branding medium as Bacardi moves budget away from traditional channels. Bacardi launched a branded podcast last year featuring artists talking about their careers and life experiences, and Mignoni sees huge opportunities with Amazon’s Alexa down the road.

“Audio is bigger and bigger for us,” she said. “With voice becoming so big, it’s probably something we’ll increase. Technology is moving toward more audio.”

Although audio is “the red thread across everything we do,” Mignoni said, Bacardi is partnering more with digital platforms in general as it moves branding budget toward interactive media. As another element of the same campaign, Bacardi launched an interactive music video on Instagram’s brand new IGTV channel in July.

“Everything we do is online-based and experiential,” Mignoni said. “We try to stay away from placement-based activations. When it’s experiential, you’re not just broadcasting. You become more meaningful. You’re involved and active.”

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