Danish indie rock band Mew – hailed as a world-class act by the likes of U2’s Bono and Michael Stipe of R.E.M. – wanted to create something unique directly with fans all over the world. But, despite the rise of social media, the band has always found it an unsolvable challenge to interact directly with its more than 200,000 followers. Co-creating something across the world seemed almost a technological impossibility – until the band realised that the solution was right under its nose, in some of the world’s most famous software.
At the other end of Copenhagen, the Microsoft Denmark team was trying to find new ways to highlight the real-time communication potentials of Microsoft Office 365 to small and medium-sized businesses. Office was simply perceived as the ‘classics’ – Excel, Word and PowerPoint. Microsoft wanted to challenge this perception by enabling users to collaborate online in the wide range of possibilities that the Office 365 solution offers, turning the collaboration itself into the marketing.
That’s when music content and partnership agency Volume took the lead.
Volume brought Microsoft Denmark and Mew together to establish a creatively symmetrical partnership, and developed a new branded content marketing campaign entitled ‘MEW365’.
The idea? Through Mew, Volume invited thousands of fans worldwide to join in a challenging experiment: to co-create and participate in a music video for the song ’The Night Believer’.
Using OneNote from Microsoft Office 365 as the technical platform for the project, Volume created an online co-creative community to bring Mew and their fans closer together. The band and their fans shared notebooks, drawings and discussions, and fans were given extra creative assignments beyond the music video performance.
At the same time, Volume communicated with the fans about the rather complex co-creation process around the making of the music video. This involved fans taking pictures of themselves and influencing the soundtrack by recording the song along with lead singer Jonas Bjerre. In this way, everyone played a part in the final music video.
More than 2,000 fans from all corners of the world signed up for the project. 1,000 individual contributions from 65 different countries were then chosen to appear in the final clip.
Volume produced a behind-the-scenes film of the whole experience, and showcased it with other key MEW365 content on the campaign website.
DISTRIBUTION & ENGAGEMENT
Volume’s communications strategy distinguished between brand-owned and earned social media channels.
Mews’ and Microsoft’s newsletters and owned social media channels – such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram – were used to kickstart invitations to fans to join the project, and to announce project news. They boosted and complemented each other.
During the co-creation process, fans not only interacted with each other and reached out to their favourite band via Microsoft communication solutions, collaborating to produce the core branded content; they also used their own social media channels to share project and video content and news, generate traffic to the campaign website (“I sang with Jonas – listen here”), and tag themselves in the final video.
A PR campaign amplified the news of the project and its innovative partnership, spreading the word further through international music influencers, including Pitchfork, Exclaim, Stereogum, Diffuser, Under the Radar and many more.
Norwegian multinational telecommunications company Telenor, a Microsoft Office 365 business partner, also helped to promote the project and increase engagement. It hosted the behind-the- scenes video to highlight the business value propositions of Office 365 in its lead-generating campaigns.
RESULTS & OUTCOMES
The MEW365 branded content partnership resulted in remarkable reach and brand endorsement for both Mew and Microsoft.
Using Office 365 as a flexible online platform for a creative project exposed its features and possibilities in a new and effective way, as noted by Telenor. As a result of MEW365, Microsoft Denmark experienced strong revenue growth, brand perception and PR both in print and online. In June 2015, the company saw double-digit, year-on-year growth in Office 365 sales.
The campaign also showed that Mew is not just a band, it’s a small-to-medium business (SMB). The fan experience lived out in Office 365 solutions gave business decision makers in the SMB sector a cool and edgy example to identify with.
Seeing Mew and the project team use our standard Office 365 technology in this innovative, ground-breaking and creative collaborative way is fantastic.
Aaren Ekelund, Business Group Lead, Office 365, Microsoft Denmark
We have fans spread out all over the world, and for a long time we’ve been looking for ways to form a creative collaboration with them – where you can take part whether you are in Denmark, Mexico, or Thailand.
This case study was originally published in the 2015 Global Edition of Best of Branded Content Marketing (BOBCM), co-edited by Justin Kirby and Greta MacFarlane.