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Atomic Tom Amps Up the Art of Giving It Away

The band Atomic Tom’s viral YouTube video has propelled them into the spotlight and their music up the charts. The art of giving it away, can propel your business, too.

Atomic Tom

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What’s an up-and-coming rock band to do when their instruments are stolen? Take it to the streets … or, at least the B-Train. That’s what Atomic Tom did. On a commuter train crossing the Manhattan Bridge into Brooklyn, the band performed “Take Me Out” while playing piano, lead guitar, bass, and drums–all on their iPhones. The whole thing was captured (by yet more iPhones) and posted on YouTube on October 14th. It quickly went viral.

This video is a great example of an important way to grow your business in the age of social media. It’s the Art of Giving it Away. It goes like this … the best thing you can do for your business is give something away. For free. No strings attached. Sound crazy? Not really. If you do it right, it’ll be something people can share and feel good about sharing. In this case, Atomic Tom gave away a free performance and a great video. You don’t even have to love their music to enjoy the magic of the unexpected live performance. Sure, the band members planned it. Sure, they hoped to get a PR bump out of it. But the genuine delivery, the willingness to put it out there raw and imperfect, and the added cool factor that the “sights and sounds” are all created and captured by iPhone, all this makes the video totally enjoyable and imminently sharable. With over 1.3 million views in three days and nearly 2.5 million in under a week, far, far more people know about Atomic Tom today than did a week ago. The newfound notoriety has propelled “Take Me Out” to iTunes Top 100 Singles Chart.

And you don’t have to play a mean iPhone to pull this off. If you caught the Chilean miners emerging from darkness last week, you may have noticed they were all wearing Oakley sunglasses.

Chilean Miner

Is the sight of miners emerging from two months of darkness wearing Oakleys a sign of pure altruism or genius marketing? It may well be both. The donation of 35 pairs of glasses retailing for $180 generated an estimated 41 million worth of media exposure. A Huffington Post poll showed over 90% of readers found Oakley’s donation either “commendable” or “well-intentioned, but also well-thought-out.” Even the cynics who thought it was “kind of despicable” may still take note the next time they’re buying. Oakley makes sunglasses so serious they were trusted to protect the eyes of these miners.

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Giving away something of value generates good will. This good will translates into brand equity the next time your customers are in the market. And it’s not about the monetary value of the gift. It’s about creating a meaningful connection by giving away something that matters. Giving it away isn’t a new art. The power of social media just amps it up exponentially by enabling an international pool of potential customers to share in the chain of giving.

Can’t carry a tune or afford to give away merchandise? Odds are, you still have something valuable to give away. Insight. Answer a question on LinkedIn, share a relevant link on Twitter, write a blog post. If you hit the right note, a genuine note, it’ll resonate. And that may be why the Atomic Tom video works so well. Their performance is genuine. They aren’t focused on when they’ll get the “pay-off” from this gift. They’re clearly finding joy and satisfaction in the act of Giving itself.

Atomic Tom group portrait: Photography & Editing by Brantley Gutierrez. Style and Wardrobe by Julie Ragolia. Grooming by Kerrin Griffin.
Atomic Tom thumbnail: Photos by Brantley Gutierrez. Style by Julia Ragolia. Grooming by Kerrin Griffin.
Photo of Chilean Minor “Super Mario” Sepulveda from Chile’s Official Government website.

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About the author

Barb Mackintosh is the Director of Marketing Communications for Carbon Design Group, a leading full-service product design and development consultancy where she is also involved in branding programs. She has written for televisions shows including Ally McBeal, Ed, and MacGyver, and written about design for Innovation magazine. Carbon delights clients by blending insight from research, intelligence from strategy, and brand-specific design with end-to-end engineering expertise

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