OK Go’s Latest Video Extravaganza Is About Changing the World—That and Morton Salt

Brand shakes it up for social good

Aside from its catchy hooks, Chicago indie-rock band OK Go is known for pushing the visual envelope. In the now famous 2009 video for "Here it Goes Again," the four-man group choreographed an elaborate dance routine on a cluster of treadmills. Earlier this year, the band took a high-altitude parabolic-arc flight to shoot the video for "Upside Down & Inside Out"—in zero gravity.

Today, the band is debuting its latest example of video derring-do, and it contains two more surprises: Though the song, "The One Moment," takes three minutes and 42 seconds to listen to, the video lasts all of 4.2 seconds (we'll explain below), and the video's being presented by Morton Salt.

You know, that dark blue cylindrical paper package with the umbrella girl on it, the one that's been on grocery shelves since 1848? They've got what might be the coolest video to debut before the year's end (scroll down to watch the video).

Brand collaborations are nothing new for OK Go, which has picked up its instruments for a range of companies including Google, Samsung and State Farm. In 2012, Chevrolet aired OK Go's video for "Needing/Getting" during the Super Bowl.

But shooting videos for tech and car brands is one thing. Today's release begs the question: What does a commodity brand of sodium chloride have to do with a pop act fond of social statements? Well, that's just it. After 168 years on shelves, Morton has decided it's time to make a social statement.

"Salt can be viewed as a commodity," admitted Morton's director of communications and corporate brand strategy Denise Lauer, "[but] that's why it's critical for Morton to connect with consumers on a more emotional level, not just on a product level. In other words, we want to make Morton mean more than salt."

Such as what? Morton is eager to teach consumers that, apart from its famous table salt, its products are also used in the pharmaceutical and farming industries. They're used to clear roads of snow and soften drinking water in millions of homes, to name a few of the lesser-known applications.

To get this diversified message out, Morton recruited its famous mascot, the girl with the yellow umbrella, to create "Walk Her Walk," a new platform that conveys the brand's aim to make a positive impact. As Morton CEO Christian Herrmann put it: "We want to embody her spirit to make a real, tangible difference in people's lives."

And when you're stretching a brand across a thematic gulf that wide, a little help from a rock band surely can't hurt.

Morton approached OK Go with the idea of creating a video around a song, and "The One Moment," emerged as a good thematic fit for the brand's new positioning. (It just so happened that both Morton and OK Go are based in Chicago.)

Reduced to super slow-mo, the video portrays only 4.2 seconds of real-time action, stretched out to fit the recorded length of the tune. The idea was to show that every moment can make a difference and have an impact. "We want to show that a single moment can contain so much wonder, so much beauty, and so much change," OK Go vocalist Damian Kulash explained in a prepared statement. "We hope it helps inspire people to use their moments wisely."

Helping with that effort are five "difference makers" who appear in the video, influentials such as Seth Maxwell, founder of The Thirst Project (which raises funds and awareness to address the global water crisis) and Blair Brettschneider, whose GirlForward helps refugee girls. Morton's marketing team hopes that seeing these idealistic personalities in the video will further inspire viewers to want to make a positive impact on the world.

Given that these change agents happen to be millennials, could it be that another goal of the campaign is to help an old brand reach younger shoppers? That would be a yes.

"We really wanted to create an opportunity for millennials to understand the Morton brand," Lauer said. "Our goal was to bring new meaning to the brand and create relevance, especially with millennials."

And just in case those millennials don't make the connection between the positive messaging and the brand paying for it, the video features a prominent silhouette of the Morton Salt Girl.