Branding Panel at Billboard Country Music Summit Emphasizes Authenticity
Branding Panel at Billboard Country Music Summit Emphasizes Authenticity

Branded: Drew McGowan, Director of Sponsorships, The Clorox Company; Sheri Warnke, VP of Corporate Partnerships; Tom Gossin, Artist, Gloriana; CMA; Stacey Portnoy, Regional Marketing Manager, Samsung Marcie Allen, President, MAC Presents; Laura Hutfless, Sponsorship Agent, Creative Artists Agency; Keith Brannan, VP of Marketing, Country Financial. (Photo: Beth Gwinn)

The Clorox Company director of sponsorships Drew McGowan nimbly summed up Monday's Billboard Country Music Summit branding panel, "Corporate America: They Really Like Us," at the outset. McGowan framed partnerships between artists and businesses as an essential tool to make up the loss of once-prevalent record company funding in a depleted entertainment economy.

Where artists who acquired sponsors in the 1980s or '90s were often trashed by the public for "selling out," that is no longer a prominent issue. Gloriana affiliated with Milk Rocks and Quaker granola bars during a tour run with Taylor Swift, and the association brought no negative remarks from fans.

"It's the world we live in," Gloriana's Tom Gossin said.

The perfect scenario for artists is one that enhances their income and/or their level of exposure, Creative Artists Agency sponsorship agent Laura Hutfless noted.

Country music likewise offers much to marketers because of its wide demographics, MAC Presents president Marcie Allen suggested. While other genres often have audiences with a core age range of 10 years or less, country stars frequently appeal to an 18-54 demographic that's split between male and female, making it easier for mass-appeal brands.

Plus, the genre's aggregate numbers are huge: some 95 million people-42% of the American population-identify themselves as country fans, according to Country Music Assn. VP of corporate partnerships Sheri Warnke, who moderated the panel.

Also participating were Country Financial VP of marketing Keith Brannan and Samsung regional marketing manager Stacey Portnoy, who indicated her company will announce an extensive country partnership this week that will encompass a "360 deal."

Check out all of our coverage from the 2011 Billboard Country Music Summit right here!