The Value in Co-Branded Digital Campaigns

As consumers, the amount of marketing campaigns, stunts and advertisements that we encounter on a daily basis is astounding. TV ads airing on the morning news, banner ads in our emails and on our websites, display signage staring at us on public transportation, sales calls coming in on the telephone – and that’s only until about 10am. Then the “FLASH SALE” emails start rolling in around 11, just in time for a mid-morning break or early lunch. It never ends!

On the corporate side, the plethora of marketing tactics is overwhelming for a different reason – it’s distracting! How is one organization meant to stand out above the rest? How can one voice be heard above the noise? One tactic the industry sees is co-branding, when two companies work together to promote a collaborative product or individual products in tandem.

Unlock the 007 In You

In late 2012, Coke and the marketing team behind the latest James Bond movie Skyfall teamed up to promote the movie and Coke Zero. The campaign centered around a stunt video, which went viral within hours of being posted on YouTube. Seemingly normal people were given the chance to live out their greatest James Bond fantasies in the hopes of winning tickets to an advance screening of the movie.

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The campaign appealed to a broad audience – everyone loves a good James Bond flick! Both brands are also well known around the world, so the campaign had expansive reach across multiple continents. The video elicited strong emotions in viewers with suspenseful music and a sense of excitement that made them eager to see how the challenge played out. These emotions, in turn, caused people to share, share, share. The video had over seven million views on YouTube, was shared over 800,000 times on Facebook and mentioned almost 30,000 times on Twitter. Did we mention this was all within the first two weeks of the campaign?

Coke also launched an interactive contest on the Coke Zone blog, releasing challenges on a daily basis to fans – “Coke Zero Agents” – and giving away a variety of prizes, relating to both Coke and Skyfall, and encouraging fans to interact with the brands on Twitter using the #CokeZero007 hashtag.

The success of this campaign was, in a way, inevitable. Coca-Cola and James Bond are two massive brands with extremely positive reputations and an essentially unlimited budget. The companies engaged fans with interactive social media contests and made them feel part of the action while watching the video.

Is it realistic to think that every company can pull off the stunt? Not at all. But that’s not to say a successful co-branded campaign can’t be executed on a lesser budget and by a not-so-well-known brand.

Will it Blend?

Blendtec began as a mill company, producing grain mills in the 1980s, and expanded its product line in the eighties and early nineties to include mixers, blenders and other household kitchen appliances. What began as the founder’s hobby – putting pieces of 2x2s into his blenders to see just how well they could blend – turned into marketing gold when the filmed it and uploaded to YouTube.

The ‘Will it Blend?’ digital campaign concept is simple: Blendtec puts random items into their blenders and grinds them to dust, demonstrating the power of their blenders. In 2006, the company’s audience exploded on YouTube with over 172 million views. The company capitalized off the larger, well-known brands’ followings by blending their products.

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Blendtec promotes the on-going campaign on all social channels, incorporating contests and giveaways to engage fans. In the above video, a gold Apple iPhone is blended into “gold” dust, and fans are encouraged to enter a contest on the Blendtec Facebook page to win a special-edition gold blender. Blendtec leveraged Apple’s high visibility and strong reputation to its advantage. This is a great example of how you don’t need an extensive budget to have a successful campaign. The videos themselves are nothing special – simple backdrop, a product to blend and the blender. There’s no fancy script; all the videos follow the same basic format.

If you want to run your own co-branded campaign, there are just a few things to keep in mind:

Stay on brand. As with any marketing campaign, it needs to align with your company’s core values and strategic messaging. You don’t want to run a co-branded campaign just for the sake of doing it, or align your company with the potentially damaging reputation of another company. Have a purpose and have a clear goal in mind before you begin.

Engage Fans. Without fan engagement, your social campaign will go nowhere. You can push out all the content you want, but without an engaged audience, what will you gain? Run a Facebook contest, moderate a Twitter chat. Get people talking to you and about you (in a good way, of course).

Get creative! Your campaign doesn’t have to involve a massive stunt or celebrity spokesperson. It could be a co-branded infographic, combining your company’s insights with another’s. Host a webinar together, combining audiences for higher reach and integrated content.

Companies of all shapes and sizes can be successful at and take part in co-branded campaigns. All it takes is a little creativity to take make your outside-the-box idea a reality.

Tori Sabourin
Marketing Coordinator


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