The Art of Brand Collaboration

Big Cat | Birmingham | Branding | collaboration | Creative | Design | Marketing | PR

Wednesday 7th November, 2018

Last week, Transport for London (TfL) and Adidas Originals teamed up to unveil three new trainer designs for the 15th anniversary of the Oyster card. The trainer designs each tell a different story from TfL’s history against the backdrop of three Adidas silhouettes: Temper Run, Continental 80 and ZX 500RM.

This really caught our attention, not just because of the eye-catching designs and the cool concept but because of the unlikely nature of the partnership. In today’s world, making a brand stand out from the crowd in a hugely competitive marketplace is one of the biggest challenges for a business. We’re therefore seeing more and more campaigns from brands collaborating with one another, leveraging each other’s platforms and tapping into a joint audience base, effectively doubling the brand exposure and reaping dividends for both businesses. It’s a great idea and something that many other brands can learn from. We’ve put together a list of our favourite brand collaborations, some very unlikely and some for a brilliant cause – it certainly makes you think about what can be achieved by thinking outside the box and working together.

GoPro & Red Bull

A portable camera company and an energy drink company, what could they possibly collaborate on? Well as they’ve both established themselves as lifestyle brands – focusing particularly on adventurous, fearless, and usually pretty extreme activities, this makes for perfect pairing.

GoPro equips athletes and adventurers from around the world with the tools and funding to capture things like races, stunts, and action sport events on video – from the athlete’s perspective. At the same time, Red Bull uses its experience and reputation to run and sponsor these events.

The biggest collaboration stunt they’ve done was “Stratos”, in which Felix Baumgartner jumped from a space pod more than 24 miles above earth’s surface with a GoPro strapped to his person.

Uber & Spotify

It seems so obvious now, while they’re two very different products, they have very similar goals – to get more users. Uber and Spotify created “a soundtrack for your ride” meaning that when travellers are waiting for their Uber, they’re prompted to connect with Spotify and become the DJ of their trip. Users can choose from their own playlists to determine what they’ll listen to providing better experience.

Nike & Apple

Nike and Apple have been working together since the early 2000s, when the first line of iPods were released. The partnership started as a way to bring music from Apple to Nike customers’ workouts. The partnership has since evolved to become Nike+ – which uses activity tracking technology built into athletic clothing and gear to sync with Apple iPhone apps to track and record workout data.

EVA Air & Hello Kitty

Probably the most fun one on the list, Taiwanese airline EVA Air joined forced with Hello Kitty and launched its Hello Kitty themed Boeing 777. The colourful planes are decorated with the iconic Japanese cat cartoon and all of her friends. It doesn’t stop there though, the branding extends to the entire flight experience with over 100 Hello Kitty-branded items inside the plane. Everything from the food and napkins to the seats and pillows has been customized with Hello Kitty to make traveling a lot more fun.

Ford & Tinder

“Swipe right if you fancy a blind date in a Ford Mustang!”

In 2017 Ford announced its partnership with mobile dating app, Tinder. The car manufacturer, which has been around since 1903, collaborated with what Forbes called the “world’s hottest app” to create a promotional campaign where five couples were selected to go on a carpool karaoke-style blind date in a Ford Mustang.

The unlikely partnership worked because each brand needed something only the other could provide. The 114-year old Ford benefited from Tinder’s “hot” new status while Tinder piggybacked off Ford’s trusted reputation, heritage and brand equity.

KFC & NASA

“Space sandwich” – a literal product launch

Last year, KFC gave a whole new meaning to the term “product launch,” when it promoted its new spicy Zinger chicken sandwich by claiming to have launched it – literally – into space.

With the help of NASA-affiliated scientists, KFC attached one of its chicken sandwiches to a high-altitude balloon and launched it to a height of 15 miles above the ground. While it has been argued that calling it a “space sandwich” was misleading as apparently, the edge of space is approximately 62 miles above ground, it still got people talking about KFC. This was purely a marketing gimmick however, it also held enormous potential for NASA to collect valuable information to advance space technology – so a win-win for both brands.

The Aloft Hotel & Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue

Without doubt, our favourite partnership on the list; The Aloft Hotel in California partnered with Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue. Another unlikely couple but one that worked tremendously.

Charlie’s Angels brought dogs to the hotel, one dog at a time and kept at the front desk area. Guests got to see the dogs whenever they walk through the lobby and were able to play with them and take them for walks on the hotel property. In the first year alone, over 50 dogs were adopted – almost one per week so the hotel continued the programme.

Not only is it a conversation starter at check-in but the programme gets glowing reviews on guest feedback forms, on social media and on its Trip Advisor reviews.

As Charlie’s Angels is a small organisation, it has received the kind of publicity it could never have achieved alone and The Aloft Hotel has received national publicity and most importantly, so many dogs have been rehomed!

Coca Cola & Ketchup

In 2009, Coca Cola created “PlantBottle” – a bottle that replaced 30% of the plastic with a plant-based alternative and is fully recyclable and renewable. However, Coke didn’t want to stop there, it wanted to change the entire global packaging supply chain in the food and beverage industry and so formed a partnership with Heinz.

Heinz had its own sustainability goals to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, waste, water and energy consumption by 2015 so began using Coke’s patented PlantBottle technology in its 20-ounce ketchup bottles worldwide. It was the biggest change to the iconic Heinz ketchup bottle since it first introduced plastic bottles back in 1983.

By 2010 – just one year later – the Imperial College in London estimated that Plantbottle eliminated the equivalent of 30,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide or approximately 60,000 barrels of oil.

The Coke/Heinz partnership was an industry first and the President of Heinz said that no one company can go it alone. Collaboration was essential.

Written by Helen Gaskell Senior Account Executive

Wednesday 7th November, 2018

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