Competitors Turning into Allies: Brand Collaborations Storytelling
Brand collaborations are extremely popular with companies and consumers alike. Anyone with children will know how much money can go into LEGO sets, especially if they pick up on popular characters from movies (like Harry Potter, Star Wars) or games (like Minecraft, Super Mario). Co-branding is also a trend in the fashion industry to unite the target groups and reach of two brands, such as with adidas, which cooperates with celebrities like Beyoncé or Kanye West, but equally with luxury brands like Prada or Stella McCartney, all the way to the Berlin public transport company. With the joint promotion of extreme sports, GoPro and RedBull have again presented a classic among brand partnerships in a completely different segment.
These brand collaborations are usually very entertaining and harmless for the brands involved because the product worlds complement each other and are not in direct competition. But in a purpose-driven world, where companies increasingly want to take on social problems, a new level of cooperation is needed. More and more frequently, especially in times of crisis, companies from one and the same industry, even competitors, are organizing themselves to stand up for a joint initiative.
DAZN + YouTube + UEFA: brand collaborations from sports content providers for more visibility of women’s soccer
In May 2021, the sports streaming platform DAZN was selected as the global broadcaster for the UEFA Women’s Champions League. In the same breath, however, DAZN announced that they would be working with YouTube, also a streaming and content provider. In this way, they wanted to provide fans around the world with the most important European club competition live and for free for the first time. With the “We All Rise With More Eyes” campaign, DAZN, YouTube and UEFA stated that the long-term goal was to take women’s soccer to a new level.
adidas + Allbirds: joint development of carbon-neutral sports shoes
“A native of New Zealand, Tim Brown was always well versed in the magical qualities of merino wool. Inherently curious, he began asking himself why such a remarkable, sustainable resource was virtually absent in the footwear industry. And with that spirit of wonder, the Allbirds journey began”. That’s what’s their story according to the website. When Tim Brown founded his company, did he ever think he would work with, or even inspire, adidas, one of the world’s biggest athletic footwear brands?
These two competitors joined forces in May 2021 for a year-long project to develop a new approach to sustainable footwear. Design, materials, manufacturing and delivery will be redesigned in brand collaboration to develop the Futurecraft.Footpring Performance running sneaker. “adidas and Allbirds see the possibility to turn competition into collaboration for the future of our planet. Together, we’ve created our lowest ever carbon emissions performance running shoe”, reads the campaign description:
Burger King + McDonald’s: one renounces so that the other can collect more donations
On November 10, 2017, McDonald’s in Argentina celebrated “McHappy Day,” on which all sales of Big Macs were donated to benefit children with cancer. Burger King also got wind of this and decided, for this one day, to help its competitor raise as much money as possible – rather one of the more unlikely brand collaborations. In the 107 Burger King stores, customers were not able to buy Whoppers on this day and were instead asked to go to the competitor on the opposite side of the street – even if one or the other small side blow could not be completely refrained from. Even the King, the BK mascot, took part in the action by personally buying a Big Mac to support the children’s cancer charity – to great applause from the customers.
Whether it’s Germany’s largest digital education providers looking to combat pandemic learning gaps or agencies advocating for a better workplace, uniting with brand collaborations to show attitude will make the lines between competitors and allies more permeable and can create real impact.
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