Chocolate and bacon. Avocado and toast. Cauliflower and hot sauce. They’re all pairings that many people simply can’t live without. And though many likely never saw them coming, the truth is, they’re not new. Their popularity is only symbolic of the times. For example, chocolate-covered bacon dates back at least 10 years. In fact, YouTube hosts a video from 2009, when a man sold over 5,000 strips from a booth located near the Iowa State Fair. Wikipedia attributes the recent popularity of the salty-sweet treat to our growing reliance on the Internet. Blogs and social media allow us to share all our culinary adventures, helping them go ‘viral’. And, the history of avocado toast is even richer. Its recipe appeared over 130 years ago in a California newspaper, proving its not a millennial invention. Rather, it gained new fame due to millennials living a healthier lifestyle.
Pairings like these allow everyday items to reinvent themselves and remain relevant in changing times. And if they’re brilliant enough, they will gain the same widespread popularity. It’s why we’re also often surprised by some brand partnerships. They may not make sense on the surface. But when we look at their execution and messaging, they make perfect sense for what’s going on in our lives in the here and now. And, knowing the power of experiential marketing, brands are giving consumers the most transparent, creative look at their stories than ever before. Here are three of the best, most surprising collaborations you never saw coming to brand partnership events.
The city of London is no stranger to Cadbury pop-up shops. The brand makes it home there. But the latest isn’t like any other they’ve ever experienced. And, if you were skeptical of chocolate-covered bacon, this collaboration takes the cake.
It all started with a ‘tweet’ from Heinz on April Fools’ Day, announcing a new product – Heinz Crème Egg Mayo. This was a combination of Heinz (Seriously) Good Mayo and Cadbury Crème Egg. But it wasn’t a joke. The next day, Heinz announced its product sampling event coming soon, and people went wild sharing their opinions. The news also went international, even though the product would only be found at the U.K. pop-up for three days. It was there that passersby came up on an interactive billboard. On its left was the jar of mayo. On its right was a Cadbury egg. And in the middle was the hybrid product. Pipes ran out of the top of each original product and into the new one. From it, a dispenser provided access to a sample. And, brand ambassadors offered a waffle on a stick with which to give the product a try, as well as encouragement to do so. Opinions varied and no news of the product’s future has come. Still, one thing is certain – both brands got the right attention they needed at the right time (Easter).
A new Variety article shares that the gaming industry could reach $300 billion by the year 2025. That makes gaming companies sought-after brand partners for those in other industries, from home goods to fashion. It’s why Italian luxury fashion brand Moschino got together with Electronic Arts (EA) to become part of the latter’s ever-popular virtual reality game The Sims. That’s right; Moschino clothes and accessories can now be found on Sims characters in the game. And players can buy them at the brand’s premium prices, though it doesn’t seem to be an issue. In fact, a recent survey finds 85% of the growth in luxury purchases derive from 18-to-35-year-old consumers. And it’s estimated these individuals will account for near half of luxury sales in five years. So, to drive awareness among these consumers, Moschino threw a party at this year’s Coachella festival to debut its Sims line. Attendees got a look at the “pixelated clothing and accessories” on the catwalk. Yet, the real party was the roller rink and giant slide, fuelled by music from famous DJs, burgers, and ice cream. It provided a clear look at the eccentric personality of the Moschino brand while helping attendees fall in love with it and the game.
A brand partnership doesn’t always mean new product development. More often, co-marketing events seek to show how current products can fulfill the needs of targeted audiences. While, for the brands, the benefits include exposure to the other brand’s followers and shared expenses. Such was the case of the collaboration between Dunkin and Dove.
The Dove Hair brand teamed with Dunkin on the “Ultimate Life Hack Sweepstakes”, which celebrates busy women, specifically those who rely on dry shampoo and coffee to get through the day. The brands encouraged these women to tell on social media their reason for needing these items. When they also used a custom hashtag, they were entered to win prizes. But the brands knew an experiential leg of the campaign could only amplify their reach. That’s why they hosted a pop-up ‘styling café’ in NYC, giving passersby the two things they need most in the morning. This meant free Dunkin coffee and mini-styling services using Dove Dry Shampoo, as well as swag, for a nice surprise, showing them how these brands can make their lives easier.
Looking at these three brand partnership events, it’s easy to see big creativity at work. This is not only in the pairings, but how event marketers and agencies ensured each brand was present to deliver benefits for both, no matter the type of partnership. Just as important, the people they choose to be on the ground – the brand ambassadors – ensured a seamless appearance and, if necessary, dual representation. That makes their role of the utmost importance when executing brand partnership events.
The event staff who represent brands can make all the difference in whether the partnership is clear and successful. Brand ambassadors must be able to share the intended messages, the purpose and benefits of the partnership, and a kinship with the target audience. Without the right people to fulfill these key responsibilities, the effort may be a lost cause – and the surprise, disappointing.
At Elevate, we have access to the world’s best brand ambassadors. Let us provide the right people to make your brand partnership event – or any experiential event – a nice surprise.