During the coronavirus situation, we’ve learnt to expect the unexpected. Toilet rolls and hand sanitizer more sacred than gold, umbrellas and socks used as face masks, videos of pets doing [insert literally anything]. But, if there’s one thing that still raises my eyebrows involuntarily, it’s Covid brand collaborations. From arch rivals joining forces to distant sectors finding common ground, the rate of collaborations has almost set a new precedent: ask not ‘why’ you should collaborate, but ‘how’.
The age of collaboration
Brand partnerships are not new. Aston Martin have been decking out James Bond with seriously cool cars since 1964, but the arrival of tech in the late 90s laid the foundations for a more collaborative era. First, Nike and Apple created Nike+, which originally synced the iPod with Nike sportswear, but now enables iPhone apps to track and analyse exercise data. Some brands, like GoPro and Red Bull, partnered to enhance their image (as boundary-pushing brands), while others, like Uber and Spotify, combined services to improve customer experience (by allowing passengers to “create a soundtrack for your ride”).
Some are gimmicks, some are useful, but mostly brand collaborations serve to capture the public imagination temporarily for short term campaigns or events and then fade away. During Covid, however, a sense of unity and purpose has bound companies together.
The idea of a collaboration is naturally enticing – limited edition clothing like Adidas and Arizona Ice Tea trainers or fantasy snacks such as Dairy Milk and Oreo bars coming to life – but temporary mergers especially delight consumers when rivals put down their metaphorical pitchforks for the public good.
Take Apple and Google, for example. The two giants are usually trading blows in the phone and apps market, but in May the rivals released software to help countries contact-trace coronavirus patients. For Caitlin Robinson, Head of Experience Design at personal finance portal MoneySmart, the collaboration is “a great example of industry putting aside those business rivalries for the better of the community that they’re ultimately trying to service”.
Around the world, brands are coming together to overcome mutual challenges. LYFT partnered with Amazon, encouraging its work-starved drivers to take temporary roles as in-demand Amazon delivery drivers. Alcohol brands Budweiser, Rémy Martin and Pernod Ricard joined forces with clothing store JD.com and Taihe Music Group to create an online clubbing experience, giving a platform for mutual sales and providing those in lockdown with a memorable virtual experience.
At a time when consumers value brands that are empathetic, helpful and creative, forging a mutually beneficial partnership makes commercial sense.
How to collaborate
It also makes business sense. As brands fumble together into the virtual unknown, the creation of community is the way to move forward and we believe that brands should:
At Rebel & Soul, creating positive memories is at the soul of what we do and collaborations are a memory-making machine. So far, we’ve launched our 5&5 video series, asking influential thought-leaders in the marketing industry for their Covid-related business insights in order to help small to large scale businesses navigate these uncharted times. We’re working with Raise and B1G1 to support those in most need of positive memories. We’re collaborating with Business of Brand to help companies understand the future landscape and transition their content online. We see huge value in partnerships and we’d love to collaborate with you.
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