CLEVER COLLABORATIONS – Why brands do them and how to make them happen

November 30, 2023

Collaborations between seemingly unrelated brands might raise eyebrows, but there’s a method to the madness. Brands engage in these unexpected partnerships for a variety of reasons. 

Why do brands do them

One is the element of surprise. In a market saturated with predictable releases, collaborations inject a sense of excitement and curiosity. It’s a way for brands to break free from the mold, capturing the attention of consumers who might not have otherwise been interested.

Collaborations offer a unique opportunity for brands to tap into each other’s customer bases. McDonald’s partnering with Travis Scott brought together the worlds of fast food and hip-hop. 

Let’s take a look at a few of the ‘surprising’ brand collaborations that have hit the market. 

McDonalds x Crocs

There’s a new Crocs collaboration in town and we’re lovin’ it. The iconic shoe brand has joined forces with McDonald’s to bring four pairs of golden arches-themed Crocs into the world. And, there’s a pack of Jibbitz (the things you hang on your Crocs) that includes everything from a Big Mac to a four-piece Chicken McNuggets.

Heinz x Absolut

Heinz and Absolut joined forces to create a limited-edition product, the vodka pasta sauce. The unlikely pairing of ketchup and vodka brands may seem unconventional, but it proved to be a match made in heaven. The campaign tapped into the nostalgia factor, invoking fond memories of backyard barbecues and classic cocktail parties. It cleverly leveraged the emotional connection consumers have with both brands, creating a buzz that was hard to resist.

Supreme x Louis Vuitton

The last few years, Supreme has definitely set the stage for clever collaborations. Dropping a limited number of items and watching the resale market go bananas. 

The Louis Vuitton’s collaboration with Supreme was a landmark moment for product drops. It saw the underground skater brand that popularized the product drop trend team up with one of the oldest and most prestigious luxury brands. The crowds were so large and excited, police in LA and NYC had to shut down the event. The drop sold out almost immediately, and within a day, items were going for twice the retail price on resale markets.

Travis Scott x McDonalds

Talking about the same brand twice, can only mean one thing, they are really very good at this! The collaboration between McDonald’s and rapper Travis Scott was unexpected-brilliantly to say the least. 

This collaboration saw McDonald’s selling Scott’s favorite order as the “Travis Scott Meal”. If you’re wondering, it’s a Quarter Pounder with cheese, bacon, and lettuce, along with chips, BBQ sauce, and a Sprite with extra ice.

Now, McDonald’s has the attention of a new audience while giving Travis Scott fans a taste of the Golden Arches. Collaborations allow brands to cross-pollinate their customer demographics, fostering a sense of inclusivity and expanding their reach.

What do they unlock

The magic of collaborations lies in the unlocking of untapped potential. It’s not just about creating a product; it’s about telling a story.  These partnerships unlock new avenues for creativity. 

Collaborations unlock a treasure trove of marketing opportunities. The Louis Vuitton x Supreme collaboration, for example, transformed a product drop into a cultural phenomenon, with eager crowds and skyrocketing resale prices. Collaborations unlock not just products, but a cultural currency that can elevate brands to iconic status.

How do you make them happen

Creating successful collaborations requires a delicate dance between authenticity and innovation. It’s crucial for brands to identify shared values or thematic elements. 

Size also often plays a part. Smaller brands often struggle to do a collaboration with a bigger brand, as there is the mentality, well what’s in it for me. 

The Travis Scott x McDonald’s partnership succeeded because it felt genuine – it wasn’t just about selling a meal but embodying a lifestyle that resonated with Scott’s fan base.

Successful collaborations require a perfect blend of surprise, storytelling, and authenticity. And partnering with a similar size brand, can really help to get things going. 

Well, my Travis Scott meal is ready and I’m on my way to get some new Jibbitz. Gotta go before they sell out!

If we can help your brand with partnerships and collaborations then get in touch

Author Headshot

Cooper Shaw

With an eye for strategic content creation and crafting marketing campaigns, Cooper is a creative marketer who loves combining visual and written aspects of storytelling.

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