October 13, 2020
BMW and Louis Vuitton. Uber and Spotify. Doritos and Taco Bell. Cover Girl and Lucasfilms. GoPro and Red Bull.
Students of consumer marketing will recognize these as examples of clever co-marketing and co-branded partnerships. These partnerships and corresponding campaigns demonstrate how brands that share a similar audience can team up to build brand buzz and drive sales.
Imagine if brands came together in a different way where their joint resources and marketing muscle were not used to influence consumers, but rather to impact the social issues and causes that need their collective help. While we all appreciate a smart partnership, it’s time these powerful collaborations move from driving social buzz to delivering societal benefit.
Think about it for a minute. We have hundreds of brands giving millions of dollars to non-profit organizations and worthy causes. They are leveraging their assets to increase awareness about important issues, engaging their customers to help raise money and mobilizing their employees as volunteers. But many of these brands are supporting the same causes, donating to address the same issues and working to help the same audiences. While non-profits serve as a centralizing force, brands are mostly doing this work in silos. Despite the impressive individual efforts of so many brands, the problems we face as a society are not getting any easier to solve. The needs are not getting any smaller.
What if groups of brands used their resources, expertise and everything else at their disposal to collectively address our biggest needs? It’s time for brands who address the same issues or the same audiences to come together and rally around one campaign, one call-to-action and one long-term commitment.
- Imagine if the biggest companies that actively support education, like Verizon, The Coca-Cola Company, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Disney and Expedia, came together to jointly address the needs of our schools.
- What if brands like Subaru, Ikea, Build-A-Bear, Clif Bar, Tito’s Vodka and Bissel, who actively support animal welfare and adoption, joined forces with companies like Nestle Purina and PetSmart to develop a unified strategy and action plan?
- Think about the collective impact of brands that actively address the needs of our military community, like Jack Daniels, Hilton, Boeing, The Home Depot, Walmart, 7-Eleven and General Motors, can have if they worked together.
- Imagine the power of our nation’s largest food brands, restaurant chains and grocery stores banding together to address childhood hunger or food insecurity.
- How could the work of companies like Citibank, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Levi Strauss, TOMS and many others who are taking a stand on gun violence make an even greater impact if they came together in new ways?
- How about the companies that support the fight against breast cancer? Those working to close the digital divide? Those who are committed to fighting for racial justice? Women’s rights? Protecting the planet?
There have certainly been examples over the years where brands have bonded together to address a specific challenge. In fact, American Express recently created the ‘Stand for Small’ coalition where companies like Amazon, Google, Dell, Adobe and many others are joining forces to provide resources for small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. This unified effort only makes you question why this doesn’t happen more often or, better yet, all the time.
Co-branded and co-marketing partnerships are great ways to build brand buzz, drive business and offer greater value to consumers. But the true power of partnerships lies in brands’ willingness to be a part of something bigger, address issues in ways that never seemed possible and, ultimately, offer greater value to our society.
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