News and Insights

Game of Thrones (And Red Cross Blood Drive) for the Win

March 9, 2019

People at SXSW on day one of the festival

We captured 55k digital mentions about SXSW on day one of the festival and the clear winner was Game of Thrones and HBO. #ForTheThrone and #GameofThrones earned nearly 5,500 mentions by delighting conference goers with “by far the coolest @RedCross blood drive”. None of the FINN crew made it to the activation, because the lines were as long as you’d expect, but the partnership with Red Cross reflects a common theme we’ve all witnessed in our sessions and seen in other brand activations.

And that theme is: brands must stand for something and they must put values at the core of the business in order to build the personal connections that drive trust and loyalty.

This doesn’t mean brands need to take a position, or align with a candidate, but they do need to define their values, reflect their values, and, if necessary, partner with or fund the right organizations to live their values.

The awareness benefit for both brands is clear, but the validation and credibility lent by partnering with an organization that has issue area expertise and a record of impact can be the difference between appearing authentic or not. This is critical, because today’s consumers are belief-driven buyers and 76% are more likely to buy product they feel connected to over a competitor.

But partnerships are also effectively being used to help brands evolve beyond their space – whether that’s bridging the digital and physical spaces, or expanding beyond their category to become more of a lifestyle brand. Take the Taco Bell Forever 21 retail collaboration, which included a sweatshirt, bodysuits, and shirts that were modeled by Taco Bell “super fans” and could be ordered online and picked up at a Taco Bell restaurant.  

Whether the goal is to more effectively support mission-driven causes, or to push the traditional boundaries of how the brand engages customers, partnerships can provide a new point of view and help build authentic relationships at a time when more and more people are feeling disconnected in our hyperconnected world.

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