Over the past week, when a handful of brands finally decided to distance themselves from Kanye West, it got me thinking… in a world where collaborations are becoming a mainstay of the marketing mix, driving disproportionate success for businesses, when is it time to cut bait?
When you think about it, the answer is simple. And it goes back to why brands come together to collaborate in the first place.
Brands come together because they have similar values but are trying to reach different audiences. Since celebrities are becoming brands in and of themselves with their own media networks, they too, are viewed as brands or the brands that they are inextricably linked with.
I always think back to a great campaign from a few years ago when Bud Light and Lady Gaga came together to do the Dive Bar Tour. Interestingly but unsurprisingly, Bud Light drinkers generally didn’t listen to Lady Gaga and research indicated that Lady Gaga listeners generally didn’t drink Bud Light. But both ‘brands’ have very similar values – so when they came together, they were able to deliver a unique experience from their brand to someone else’s audience, and it was wildly successful. The stream of the concert on Vivo outperformed broadcast television ratings on the nights she performed live from dive bars around the US.
There are tons of other examples of successful collaborations. Like when Off-White and IKEA worked together to bring the brand even closer to the cultural zeitgeist, or when Danone and Disney worked together to bring yogurt into theme parks, and characters onto packs. Or even a few weeks ago when Spotify and Drake designed the latest kit for FC Barcelona to introduce the sport and the team to new, younger fans and introduce fans to Drakes music on Spotify. These are all examples of strong brands looking for new ways to entertain, excite and engage new audiences.
It all comes back to getting values right at the beginning and ensuring that everyone is keeping true to them. If any party deviates from what’s important to their ethos and their audience, it’s time to end the relationship.
It is not always easy, and it is not always obvious, and sometimes, it is not the right thing to do.
For example, look at what happened during the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial from a few months back. Depp had been a Dior brand ambassador for years. He was making appearances on advertising and events, alike. When the media was swirling around him, Dior could have quickly jumped and ended the relationship. It would have been a tough for everyone involved, but at the same time, keeping the relationship could have been as well.
From a marketing perspective, pulling down billboards around the world is quite expensive. Sticking with him could’ve also been very expensive (as we saw from the adidas share price when Kanye spoke out). So, Dior looked at the facts. And allowing Depp to be innocent until proven otherwise proved to be the right decision in the end. His personal relationship was not an indictment on the shared values the two brands came together with at the beginning.
What is interesting to think about: this is the embodiment of future marketing decisions for every single brand. Collaborations in technology, media, entertainment, culture, fashion, music, gaming, sports, and influence will continue to be a growing part of the communications mix. The only way to sustain success as a brand comes from rescinding a bit of control – to allow room for understanding, celebrating and aligning with other brands that share the same system of beliefs.
Adam Puchalsky is global head of content at Wavemaker.
Tue, 01 Nov 2022 12:29:05 GMT