Sometimes I forget Scion is a car company. That’s because most of my encounters with Scion haven’t been through car commercials or advertisements, but rather Scion A/V, the company’s platform for promoting music and the visual arts (the “A/V” stands for audio/visual). I know Scion A/V because I go to their parties at the annual Miami Winter Music Conference every March, or through their Scion A/V Radio mixes , or because of their Scion Music(less) Music Conference that was held this past fall as “a resource for evolving careers in the music industry”. Scion is making awesome things happen in music right now, does it overshadow the fact that it’s actually a car company?
At first glance, maybe. But perhaps a more complete assessment would be that Scion is tapping into a deeper level of advertising and identifying with its consumer base. Scion recognizes its target audience as young, smart, creative, and who are also coming of buying-power age in a time that places a huge emphasis on personalization and individual expression. Scion therefore is shaping their brand to embody these values, allowing the opportunity for customization of the product, and engaging themselves with creative communities and causes that attract their target buyers. Or, in the words of their own website…
“The Scion brand often applies new practices in all aspects of its business and pushes the creativity envelope with non-traditional advertising and marketing to engage young consumers. Scion also supports originality through its programs in the artistic community.”
Scion is an example of companies that are evolving into media brands, extending the brand beyond the normal (or now, outdated?) concepts of advertising. Who else is part of this media branding vanguard? None other than Red Bull, who was recently named one of the 50 Most Innovative Companies by FastCompany.
Similarly to Scion, Red Bull has different platforms for several media endeavors. The Red Bull brand has expanded so far beyond the notion of an energy drink, which becomes exceedingly clear when you visit the Red Bull Content Pool website, the hub of the company’s various interactive campaigns and programs. I was almost overwhelmed when I went to the site, and saw the number of “media rooms” that make up the Red Bull Media House….
(screen shot taken by yours truly)
Similarly to Scion, I am most familiar with Red Bull through the Red Bull Music Academy thanks to their parties, their videos, and their RBMA radio. What is so interesting about both Red Bull and Scion is that they’re creating their own content across all these different platforms, and it’s content that is not even focused necessarily on the product. As the FastCompany article points out, they’ve taken the idea of sponsorship from beyond merely throwing money at something and putting a logo on it, to actually supporting the ideas, dreams, and lifestyles of their consumers.
Taking sponsorship even further, Scion has recently introduced a new platform called Scion/Motivate, that provides money and mentorship to young passionate entrepreneurs.
I’ve heard of other companies providing funding for innovative ideas (I think Pepsi did something like that for environmental issues?), but not to this extent where the entire brand represents support and recognition of the consumer’s lifestyle.
This new approach to advertising can maybe be summed up in this quote from the FastCompany article:
“Red Bull is a media company that sells drinks instead of ads.”
It’s an interesting and exciting example of how media and advertising are rapidly evolving along with consumer tastes.