By Robert Fowler
If you even half-watched the Super Bowl this year, you probably noticed a Bud Light commercial that quite literally went up in flames. The ad, set in a sunny field where medieval characters have gathered to cheer on their Bud Knight during a jousting tournament ends with a Game of Thrones character—the Mountain—defeating the Knight. The Knight lies motionless on the ground as a large shadow moves across the crowd and one of Daenerys Taragaryen’s dragons hover over everyone, to breathe fire onto the whole scene.
This collaboration between Budweiser and HBO’s Game of Thrones displays that the trend of partnerships between big brands is alive and well. This co-branding strategy of two brands working together to create a shared product, campaign, or event has been around for over half a century, with jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels turning a new Renault model’s dashboard into a dazzling sight in the 1950s.
Why To Partner Up:
This kind of symbiotic partnership gets its staying power from the fact that combining two brands who have similar Seventh Level (which is the highest, most meaningful level of engagement) values means customers of both will find the shared output inspiring.
In other words, co-branding usually results in a starting base of Level 5 engagement from audiences of both brands. Presenting each brands’ customers with fresh messaging by combining their own brand principles with those of a new, invigorating voice is exciting for customers. A third, combined messaging rises out of the two distinct brand voices in a way that deepens both brands’ existing values and extends new ones into conversation. This piques audience interest.
It’s then the job of each brand in the partnership to offer shared customers a pathway that will lead them to Levels 6 and 7. When the brands work together to create inspirational messaging or stories out of the collaboration, customers are propelled into Level 6, to make active changes in their lives and achieve objectives set out for them by the partnership.
In this type of co-branded content, the holy grail of Level 7 engagement is unlocked when the new brand that’s being paired up with reveals new facets of organizational values that align deeply and personally with customers. Showing how and why one brand has chosen to partner with another can uncover both brands’ missions in slightly new ways, and make them even more aligned to the personal beliefs of both audiences.
In Real Life:
We inserted a pop-up Biossance shop into Alo Yoga studios to get the attention of Alo Yoga in-store customers, and target the audience of a brand that might not know Biossance, but would likely be excited about intentional, mindful beauty products.
Then, we activated the pop-up in NYC by organizing an event at the Alo Yoga studio that combined yoga flow, meditation, and a beautifying class into one session. After centering their bodies and minds with meaningful movement, guests then received samples of beauty products to test and learn about. The messaging at this event was designed to inspire the audience to make space in their lives for yoga and a beauty routine that makes them feel great about themselves.
In the same way that cross-pollinating plants of the same species leads to a new variety of plant that contains the best qualities of the original two, the cross-pollination of brand values can be lasting and effective, to the point of converting consumers of one brand into active loyalists for both.