Lennon and McCartney, Burton and Depp, Morecambe and Wise – some of the greatest art the world has ever seen has been created through collaboration. And it’s not just music, film and comedy that can be credited, as partnerships are increasingly proving to be just as iconic in the world of media and marketing.
A 2017 study from MediaCom highlighted that media partnerships can drive up to twice as much effectiveness for a brand campaign over and above simply traditional advertising. But as content, data and media increasingly play a combined and bigger role in the collaborations story, finding the right partner(s) to drive success and business outcomes can be something of a challenge.
“Success will always depend on the type of partnership we’re talking about but I really feel that success, when it comes to a partnership, will always start from whether the objectives and values [of both brands and organisations] are the same, if not aligned,” Doug Male, head of PR EMEA and APAC for Guinness World Records, told Festival of Media CEO Jeremy King during a roundtable discussion on partnerships and creative collaborations, hosted in Cannes.
One of the key takeaways that came from that conversation was the importance of creating longer term partnerships in order to drive the most value. So, looking beyond just a one-off ad campaign into something that has the potential to blossom into a mutually beneficial long-term relationship.
“You obviously want to achieve the stated objective, but I think it’s greater than that,” said Richard Browning, Founder of Gravity Industries. “If the outcome, the lasting legacy of that collaboration, is positive and both sides have come out of it feeling richer for the experience, you can look back and realise the most important thing wasn’t that initial objective but building the foundation of that relationship.”
Looking specifically at entries in the ‘Best Partnership Award’ category for this year’s M&M Global Awards shortlist, we saw a mix of brands across the food & beverage, pharma, finance and FMCG sectors entering their work, which included strategic partnerships with the likes of Snapchat, Facebook and Channel 4.
Naturally, content sits at the heart of all these campaigns and it was interesting to see how brands are not just looking at digital as a promotional tool but actually getting consumers to engage with their brand through content and activating that across various touchpoints in authentic, timely ways.
One thing we can learn is that the co-creation process requires a fully integrated approach from both the client and media partner. The underlying foundation of any successful partnership comes down to content, data and media and ensuring that all of these are connected seamlessly.
Three key takeaways to ensure successful partnerships:
- Focus on the right challenge – make sure you understand exactly what you want to achieve from the partnership and set the desired outcomes from the offset.
- Find the right partners – work with partners that align with your values and brand purpose and identify those that play important roles in the lives of your consumers.
- Use real insight to make a difference – get smart with data by using it to fuel insights with real, practical applications. Offer a clear value exchange that delivers added value to the consumers.
Kristen O’Hara, CMO for Time Warner, said: “It has to genuinely be a two-way thing and we need to change the mindset of a commercial relationship with a company we are spending money with to really look at how to get the maximise amount of value out of both organisations and how are we going to push the boundaries of innovation in order to do that. If we’re not both succeeding in that, we’re not really in partnership. When we think about key strategic partners in distribution, content and data, we look at companies who are going to help us to think differently, advance our cause and stay on the cutting edge of where consumers are going.”
Partnerships can be challenging. It’s no mean feat bringing together the various stakeholders (brands, media owners, publishers, content creators and platforms) and aligning all of them with the same values. Those that can master the art of collaboration and appreciate the value of partnerships, then combine this with innovation and creativity, will soon see the business impact.
We put the spotlight on two M&M Global Awards 2018 shortlisted entries, which highlight this trend:
FantaXYou | Fanta | UM | Europe (Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Ireland, Switzerland, UK)
Shortlisted for: Best Partnership Award
Everybody loves the taste of Fanta; 27 of 32 European countries said so. Yet, in a declining CCSD category, recent campaigns featuring stylised animation and soft storytelling made the brand feel childish to the brand’s most important audience, Teens. UM knew it had to do something brave and bold. It didn’t need famous celebrities, famous designers or mainstream music to empower Teens to make the brand theirs. The only way to create a real teen brand was to hand it over to them. The strategy was simple. Start with the product to inspire teens. Allow them to create their own content, which was then amplified through owned, earned, shared and paid media.
The idea was ‘FantaXYou’ (FantaByYou). A collaboration between Fanta and you, led by a TMO (Teen Marketing Officer), who inspired teens to distort their world, and create and collaborate with Fanta to make the brand their own. Forget large budget TVC, the TMO inspired influencer takeovers. Throw away the glossy product shots, as teens created their own Gif factory. And no annoying pop ups, or ad-blocked banners, Fanta partnered with the only real Teen platform – Snapchat.
Working with teens and influencers, it co-created 90 days of exclusive Snapchat filters and lenses to give teens the tools to take over. Then distributed these tools through Snapcodes on all Fanta owned channels – the largest distribution of Snapcodes in European history.
HSBC – The Secret Life of Cyclists | HSBC | Mindshare | UK
Shortlisted for: Best Partnership Award
In the summer of 2017, HSBC began promoting its eight-year partnership between HSBC UK and British Cycling, to reconnect ordinary Britons with the joy of cycling. By heroing current events and activations, HSBC’s ambition is to create a fitter, greener, healthier Britain. Mindshare identified an opportunity to reconnect people with why they learned to ride in the first place, reminding them of the joy and independence that comes with riding a bike.
Recognising that it was at the beginning of the partnership with British Cycling and its credentials in this arena are still growing, the agency decided to invite some experts to help tell the story. Who better to convey that feeling of learning to ride than a team of children about to embark on the very same journey.
Utilising the emotional equity developed by a much-loved, award-winning show – ‘The Secret Life of 4, 5, & 6 Year Olds’ – and adding a cycling twist, it partnered with Channel 4 to create the ‘The Secret Life of New Cyclists’. A piece enabling HSBC to launch the BC partnership in an ownable, engaging way. One that didn’t feel like advertising, and certainly not your standard bank sponsorship.