NOTvertising: Spotify and Coca-Cola’s New Symbiotic Relationship

Everyone knows that Spotify launched in the US in July 2011.  However, people might not know that brands took an interesting role in that launch (outside of just advertising dollars).  I know this because I worked with Chevy to partner with blogs/publishers to generate editorial exposure for Spotify and Chevy in exchange for advance access to the streaming service for their readers.  It seemed only suitable that Spotify would try to evolve this symbiotic relationship with brands even further.

During the morning talk Spotify founder Daniel Ek made at Ad Age’s Digital Conference, he kept referring to Spotify as a platform as opposed to simply a streaming service.  Depending on the brand, having a Spotify app might even be more important than having a Pinterest or Instagram account because of the emotional role music plays in people’s everyday lives.  To quote a Coca-cola rep, “we’re trying to develop a Coca-Cola experience within Spotify.”

On the surface, this partnership sounds pretty innovative.  Coca-Cola with tie Spotify into their global marketing efforts (including Olympics, FIFA, and various live events) and help Spotify launch their service in new markets.  Spotify will help Coca-Cola look cool by injecting them into the conversation of music fans.  In addition, the two partnered this past weekend to host a friendly competition between 6 different hack teams.  The winner, named “London Calling,” will be an integral part of the public launch of this partnership.

However, the whole event was presented very ambiguously and vague without going into much specifics.  Since this all was kept fairly abstruse, it’s hard to ignore how the listening community will react to an even deeper branded experience when some already see Spotify ads as an interruption. On the flipside, Spotify insisted at the Press Event that “this is not an advertising campaign [with Coca-Cola].”  In addition, Daniel sited Subaru’s First Car playlist as a successful brand in his Ad Age presentation by saying that the average person on the playlist listened for an average of 70+minutes.  People shared and spoke about what song defined their first car, and Subaru wins because they’re at the core of conversation.

I guess my gut insists that in order for the execution of this partnership to be successful, Coca-cola needs to improve the Discovery and Amplification experiences of listeners without inauthentically injecting their beverages into the conversation.

This article originally appeared on Hypebot on Thursday, April 19th, 2012.

Image via HypeTrak.

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