During the coronavirus situation, we’ve learnt to expect the unexpected.
Toilet rolls and hand sanitizer are more sacred than gold, umbrellas and socks used as face masks, videos of pets doing [insert literally anything]. But, if there’s one thing that still raises my eyebrows involuntarily, it’s Covid brand collaborations. From arch rivals joining forces to distant sectors finding common ground, the rate of collaborations has almost set a new precedent: ask not ‘why’ you should collaborate, but ‘how’.
Brand partnerships are not new. Aston Martin has been decking out James Bond with seriously cool cars since 1964, but the arrival of tech in the late 90s laid the foundations for a more collaborative era. First, Nike and Apple created Nike+, which originally synced the iPod with Nike sportswear, but now enables iPhone apps to track and analyse exercise data. Some brands, like GoPro and Red Bull, partnered to enhance their image (as boundary-pushing brands), while others, like Uber and Spotify, combined services to improve customer experience (by allowing passengers to “create a soundtrack for your ride”).
Some are gimmicks, some are useful, but mostly brand collaborations serve to capture the public imagination temporarily for short term campaigns or events and then fade away. During Covid, however, a sense of unity and purpose has bound companies together.
The idea of a collaboration is naturally enticing – limited edition clothing like Adidas and Arizona Ice Tea trainers or fantasy snacks such as Dairy Milk and Oreo bars coming to life – but temporary mergers especially delight consumers when rivals put down their metaphorical pitchforks for the public good.
Take Apple and Google, for example. The two giants are usually trading blows in the phone and apps market, but in May the rivals released software to help countries contact-trace coronavirus patients. For Caitlin Robinson, Head of Experience Design at personal finance portal MoneySmart, the collaboration is “a great example of industry putting aside those business rivalries for the better of the community that they’re ultimately trying to service”.
Around the world, brands are coming together to overcome mutual challenges. LYFT partnered with Amazon, encouraging its work-starved drivers to take temporary roles as in-demand Amazon delivery drivers. Alcohol brands Budweiser, Rémy Martin and Pernod Ricard joined forces with clothing store JD.com and Taihe Music Group to create an online clubbing experience, giving a platform for mutual sales and providing those in lockdown with a memorable virtual experience.
It also makes business sense. As brands fumble together into the virtual unknown, the creation of community is the way to move forward and we believe that brands should:
Kristy Castleton is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Calyx Technology, a global technology company who streamline consumer experiences. She is also the Founder and CEO of Rebel & Soul, a socially conscious business that produces highly memorable events for global brands across Asia Pacific. She is an extrovert and a geek, passionate about neuroscience and technology. He company Rebel & Soul works with brands like Heineken, HSBC, Chanel and MINI and agencies such as Dentsu and Saatchi & Saatchi to create events that pack a punch. Think wearables, gamification, holograms and virtual reality mixed with awesome music and a free flow bar. Rebel & Soul’s vision is to drive event technology to be the new frontier of marketing in Asia. Kristy spent years working on weird and wonderful events and campaigns in Europe at festivals like F1’s and the Olympics and wanted to bring a snippet of the event marketing fun out east. Kristy was nominated by Campaign Asia to be on their Women to Watch list. Team Rebel also provides pro bono event consultancy for local charities and non-profits. These initiatives include Billion Bricks, Thomson Reuters Trust Forum, Buy1Give1, and the 100 Resilient Cities initiative by the Rockefeller Foundation. Rebel & Soul won Excellence in Technology& Innovation award, Start-Up Excellence and Customer Engagement by the BritCham for its 18th Annual Business Awards. Kristy holds a Bachelor in Business Studies from Edinburgh University.