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Successful Brand Partnerships – 7 that delivered commercial gold

Louise Findlay-Wilson

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Louise Findlay-Wilson

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So you understand all the advantages of brand partnerships and you’re ready to take the plunge. But you are not sure who’d be the right partner for your business or brand or how you might work together? If that’s the case, here are some successful brand partnerships which we love. They will give you plenty of ideas and inspiration.

Adidas and Kanye West

First up is Adidas and Kanye West, who together created the Adidas Yeezy brand in 2015. West brought cultural prestige and credibility to the brand – especially among younger shoppers. But Adidas wasn’t entering into the relationship to just score some ‘cool’ points. It had a critical ambition to fulfil. For years it had wanted to develop a product/relationship to rival Nike’s Air Jordans – a business which generated $3.1 billion for Nike in 2019, a whopping 8% of the apparel giant’s overall sales! While the Adidas tie-up hasn’t quite achieved that level of success yet, the business is getting there. Yeezy was on track to generate $1.3 billion of shoe revenue in 2019 and in April 2020 was valued at £3 billion by the Bank of America.

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M&S and David Gandy

Our next nominee for successful brand partnerships involves two UK icons. Through developing a clothing range with world-famous male model, David Gandy, M&S elevated its core men’s underwear and loungewear. These clothing staples gained a more designer edge, without alienating either the retailer’s (or the fashion icon’s) die-hard fans - crucial in any successful brand partnerships. The relationship began in 2011, with Gandy developing his own ranges for the retailer and it has endured ever since. Most recently he has become their Ambassador of Tailoring turning his attention to suits and championing the brand’s green credentials.

BMW and Louis Vuitton

Successful brand partnerships don’t have to involve personalities. In 2014 BMW and Louis Vuitton played up their luxury travel credentials beautifully with an alliance which worked brilliantly for both brands. The brands share the exact same customer base with the same desire for luxury and quality manufacture. How better to demonstrate this than by partnering to create a four-piece luggage collection. Retailing at $20,000, the collection fitted into the trunk of the BMW i8, thus being a perfect additional development to promote the new model.

Indeed, the innovation added kudos and interest to both brands, made ‘brand sense’ and offered something new to their loyal customers. In short, when it comes to successful brand partnerships this ticked lots of boxes.

GoPro and Red Bull

With successful brand partnerships the parties often look made for each other. GoPro and Red Bull are the ultimate example of this. The lifestyle brands fit from a spiritual point of view – one brand gives you the ‘pep’ to try something adventurous, and the other captures the moment when you do. However, this collaboration is more than simply a pair of ‘brand besties’ hanging out and having fun together. It’s a savvy brand partnership in practical terms too. GoPro is in the athletes’ hands; it’s with them every hair-raising, adrenaline pumping step of the way; it helps them capture masses of great video content taken during races and stunts. However, GoPro knows nothing about running such events. That’s where Red Bull comes in. Red Bull has hosted or sponsored hundreds of events and has a phenomenal media machine which can harness the output from them. In a content hungry world this is the smartest of synergies.

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Adidas and Parley for the Ocean

Successful brand partnerships can be spawned by a cause. For instance, Adidas has operated a strategic partnership with Parley for the Ocean since 2015. It is focused on driving eco-innovation to help the world’s oceans.

In the five years since, the partnership has been a practical as well as a PR triumph. During this time the footwear giant has phased out single-use plastics and microbeads. Adidas is now producing trainers made from recycled plastic found in the sea. It’s estimated 15-20 million trainers will be made of 95% recycled material in 2020. This focus hasn’t been confined to its sportswear; together with partner COTY, Adidas has also ended the use of plastic microbeads across all licensed body care products.

On the Parley’s side, the relationship has spurred the not-for-profit organisation to develop the world’s first supply chain for upcycled marine waste. Initially sourcing waste from islands in the Maldives, its collection network now includes the Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka too. This has created a steady demand for plastic waste that would otherwise end up in the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. This expansion has in turn enabled Adidas to accelerate production and expand the number of products made using upcycled materials to include shirts, socks and other performance wear.

However, the partnership isn’t just operating at a product level. There are events - like Parley Ocean School, 747 Warehouse St and Run for the Oceans all designed to harness a movement to protect oceans. And at every step of the way the collaboration is supporting Parley’s mission and reinforcing Adidas’ green credentials. A very smart partnership.

JD.com, Budweiser, Rémy Martin, Carlsberg and Pernod Ricard

We’ve also been impressed by a number of successful brand partnerships which have been spawned by these unprecedented times. These are shorter term, tactical affairs, but extremely successful and should be admired for their agility. For instance, in February 2020, JD.com, partnered with Chinese music label, Taihe Music Group and various popular drink brands, to create an online clubbing experience, for people during the Coronavirus lockdown.

The Chinese e-commerce giant hosted a three-hour show each week with musicians and DJs from label performing. The show was live streamed to people’s living rooms, with JD.com selling top imported, drinks brands during the show – as if they were in a real club environment. Budweiser, Rémy Martin, Carlsberg and Pernod Ricard all signed up to be part of the initiative and saw their sales respond. According to JD.com, during one of the live shows, beer sales leapt 40%, sales from a single drinks partner brand increased 70%, and sales of whiskey products increased eight times - all compared with the same period on the day before.

Moving face-to-face clubbing online, to a live stream is not new. However, connecting this with alcohol brands and e-commerce as a nimble response to the COVID crisis, was enough to get this onto our list.

Intel and PC Manufacturers

If you are looking for successful brand partnerships which deliver real business to the bottom line, Intel’s collaboration with PC manufacturers takes some beating. This partnership was carefully thought through and a fundamental part of the tech company’s strategy to avoid being stuck in a commodity microprocessor market.

In essence, Intel developed a superior chip and then persuaded PC brands to not only install it in their PCs but to make a virtue of the fact it was there. This was a bold strategic move given that most people in 1991 had no idea what a chip was!

Intel asked the PC partners to present the “Intel Inside” logo on their products and in their ads. Motivated by the 10% premium they could command for “Intel Inside” products and Intel’s generous contributions to their ad budgets (which came out of product discounts), they embraced the strategy and advertising for computers exploded as a result.

Retail sales followed and Intel avoided becoming an invisible commodity item, with its Pentium processors a household name by the end of the 90s.

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We love these examples but don’t assume successful brand partnerships can only happen when mega brands are involved. So long as there’s a good fit between your brands – as outlined in our blog the 7 Simple Rules of Brand Partnerships – any business can benefit from a brand partnership.

Want to find out how you can leverage a brand partnership in your business? As part of our service to clients, we help them identify appropriate partners, broker the deal and bring it to life. So if you are keen to unleash the advantages of brand partnerships in your business, but aren’t sure where to start – email Louise@energypr.co.uk or call 01993 823 011

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