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SXSW

How Sour Patch Kids Is Using Free Lodging to Become the Favorite Brand for Bands

Opening crash pads in Austin and Brooklyn

The candy company just released a video with the band XAmbassadors.

In October, Sour Patch Kids opened the Brooklyn Patch, a brownstone nestled in the borough's Clinton Hill neighborhood that roving musicians can use as a crash pad while in town for gigs and video shoots.

Less than six months later, bands like Dr. Dog, Deer Tick, Joywave, Magic Man and more have accepted the brand's offer, staying at the Brooklyn Flea-decorated digs, seemingly free of charge. Now the Mondelez brand has established its second residence for musicians, in Austin, just in time for the city to be overrun with bands during the annual South by Southwest Festival. 

But giving up-and-coming musicians a place to stay while on the road isn't an altruistic move. The program—which is slated to run through at least the end of this year—allows the brand to situate itself within the music world and build brand awareness as well as credibility, according to Farrah Bezner, marketing director of Sour Patch. 

To kick off the recent opening of the Austin Patch, the brand today released a video with the group XAmbassadors, whose song "Jungle" was used in a lauded World Cup spot for Beats by Dr. Dre. And during South by Southwest, the Austin Patch will host private performances from Kane Holler on March 15, Ryan Hemsworth on March 17 and Allan Kingdom on March 21.

"It's critically important to [Sour Patch] to get ourselves embedded in culture, and I think there's only so far that a brand can do that on its own," explained Bezner. "By partnering with these musicians and having them talk about the brand or be situated and talk about something creative within a space of Sour Patch Kids, we start to build associations and credibility with our consumers that we wouldn't necessarily be able to do on our own." 

That's right: In return for the rent-free accommodations, Sour Patch Kids asks that musicians create social posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat using the hashtags #BrooklynPatch or #AustinPatch, or videos for YouTube, that the brand then posts on its Tumblr page

"We needed to be in a place that was culturally relevant for teens, and we felt music was the territory that clearly would resonate," said Bezner. "But we wanted to make sure we had a voice in music that would differentiate from a lot of other brands and music partnerships." 

To create both Patch residences, the brand partnered with two agencies: Nue, a creative music agency, and The Participation Agency, an experiential shop. Each Patch was adorned with locally-made wares and tapped nearby artists to create various pieces for the spaces. Both also have functioning recording studios. 

While the brand says it has seen demand for other locations, it doesn't currently plan to open more. "From a brand stand point, [Sour Patch Kids] wants to offer a consistent offering to the artists and make sure that we don't deviate from the full package of what we're trying to bring. We don't want to expand too quickly," said Bezner. 

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