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8 marketing partnerships that succeeded

Kyle Montero
8 marketing partnerships that succeeded Kyle Montero

Since the dawn of print advertising, marketing co-operations have been developed to uncork the market's full potential by bundling specific competencies or resources from two or more companies. Early on, marketers realized the benefits of alliances within competitive environments. Today, as companies struggle to create campaigns that break through the white noise of online advertising, marketing partnerships can be a powerful tool used to elevate companies into the digital spotlight. In the current competitive state of online advertising, joint marketing ventures are taking on extremely innovative forms, deeply engaging consumers and sparking motivation.

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In order to achieve true success, marketing partnerships must create a "win-win-win" situation in which the companies and their customers are given something of value. In addition, both companies must realize a number of the following objectives:

  • Build up brand, image, and traffic by implementing joint or exchange communication measures

  • Gain access to new markets and customers by addressing the partner's customers

  • Increase customer loyalty by addressing customers with value-added offerings from the partner

  • Reduce market costs by bundling or exchanging marketing measures

  • Measure the potential value of an intangible asset through how much consumers are willing to pay the premium

Now that the value and main objectives of cooperative advertising have been established, here are 8 cutting-edge examples of digital marketing co-operations.

Levi's and water.org
To celebrate World Water Day, Levi's joined forces with aid organization Water.org to raise awareness of crucial water issues by launching the new Levi's Water

This marketing co-operation offers multiple benefits for both companies and their consumers. Levi's, whose strong social presence is evidenced by nearly 9.5 million fans, generated 50,000 visits to the Facebook WaterTank app within the first 72 hours of its launch. Clearly, a visit surge of this extent increases traffic while strengthening Levi's image as it aligns itself with a globally responsible organization. Furthermore, as past evidence concludes, consumers are much more likely to purchase products from socially accountable companies. Thus, not only will this campaign boost sales of Levi's Water

By partnering with Levi's, Water.org significantly increased its visibility. Ideally, global water issues find their way to the center of the collective consciousness. This not being the case, it is an important strategic move to attach Water.org's mission to a globally recognized clothing company with the power to generate water awareness through the promotion of a flagship product -- blue jeans. Furthermore, the challenges of the WaterTank app inspired people to alter their water-consumption habits, and in passing these challenges, consumers inspired Levi's to donate $250,000 to Water.org.

In passing various WaterTank challenges, participants had the chance to win a range of prizes, with the grand prize being a trip to a community receiving clean water from Water.org to witness the emotional power of social change; really, a manifestation of the true consumer benefit -- taking action to instigate change and reaping the positive emotions that come from making a difference.

Stonyfield, Organic Valley, and Wholesome Wave
Stonyfield, the world's leading organic yogurt company, and Organic Valley, one of the nation's leading organic brands, have recently launched a digital campaign to promote eating organic to benefit Wholesome Wave, whose works make locally grown fruits and vegetables accessible and affordable to America's underserved communities. The materialization of this cooperation is the Celebrate with Organic contest entry page, accessed from both companies' sites and Facebook pages, where consumers can enter to win one year of free Stonyfield and Organic Valley products. Along with the bounty of organic food, one grand prize winner will receive a $1,000 gift certificate to Cooking.com. Wholesome Wave will receive 20 cents per contest entry.

A truly innovative aspect of this marketing co-operation is the creation of the Celebrate with Organic blogger contest. This competition calls on bloggers to submit essays detailing how they celebrate with organic foods in their own kitchens and lives. Six finalists will be featured on the Celebrate with Organic website, and one publicly voted blogger will receive a grand prize of a year's worth of organic products and a $1,000 gift certificate to Cooking.com.

As of December 2011, total donations to Wholesome Wave from contest entries had surpassed $25,000, which translates into 125,000 entries at 20 cents per entry. Contestants are allowed to enter more than once, but only once per week. Nevertheless, consumer participation is high, which results in an increase in brand awareness, which should help boost sales for both companies. Furthermore, by addressing their partnering company's costumers, both brands are provided access to new consumers. Lastly, in holding a blogger contest, Stonyfield and Organic Valley strategically motivate those consumers most likely to organically publicize the campaign via word-of-mouth -- a marketing trend gaining ground in 2012.

Pizza Hut, Zynga, and the World Food Programme
In September 2011, America's largest pizza chain and the online gaming giant Zynga, creators of the highly addictive social game Farmville, teamed up to combat world hunger with the "Share a Slice of Hope" campaign. Within popular Zynga games, players could purchase special in-game items for $5. Not only did these items help players online, but proceeds from the items were donated to the UN's World Food Programme (WFP).

Furthermore, the in-game items (pictured below) were imprinted with the WFP logo. The result of this collaboration was a truly innovative offline/online interaction in which players were rewarded digitally for actions in the "real word."

In a discussion with PRNewswire, Laura Pincus Hartman, director of external partnerships for Zynga.org, explained, "We're thrilled to join the World Food Programme and Pizza Hut in their battle against world hunger and to heighten awareness of the campaign among our players."

Clearly, the campaign increases brand awareness for Zynga and Pizza Hut, as consumers are exposed to the value offerings of the partnering company. Furthermore, by attaching the WFP logo to items in Zynga's games, the nonprofit successfully integrates itself into an online social game, becoming a digitized promotion within an addictive communal arena -- in which marketing campaigns strive.

Starbucks and Yahoo
In 2010, Starbucks and Yahoo partnered to launch the Starbucks Digital Network, a package of web content only available in Starbucks stores and customized for specific locations -- all available over Starbuck's free Wi-Fi network. Starbucks digital network's team of editors, selecting the content to appear on the network, settled on six channels: news, entertainment, wellness, business and careers, My Neighborhood, and Starbucks. Within these channels, consumers were provided access to services such as Bookish Reading Club, Foursquare, Good, LinkedIn, New Word City, and The Weather Channel, as well as paid sites like The Wall Street Journal.

As Adam Brotman, VP of Starbuck's digital ventures, told The Los Angeles Times, "Because we know what store you're in, we can give you hyper-local news... We want to provide something of value they [the costumers] can't get anywhere else." As a result of this localized mentality, within the My Neighborhood channel, for example, customers were able to connect with local charities and donate.

With this move, Starbucks strengthened its grip on its caffeine-loving clientele, giving them yet another reason to visit the world's largest coffee chain by offering free Wi-Fi and exclusive access to paid sites in a time when most coffee shops charge for internet privileges. By providing localized content, Starbucks tapped into the magical allure of "locally owned" coffee shops by creating a digital environment with a more native personality. In partnering with Starbucks, Yahoo took a progressive stride toward creating an identity apart from its strong rivals -- Google and Bing.

Activision Blizzard, PepsiCo, and Walmart
Activision Blizzard, the worldwide PC, console, handheld, and mobile game publisher, and PepsiCo joined forces in the fall of 2011 to bring to life the "Rank Up Your Game with Double XP" promotion. The campaign provided fans with the opportunity to acquire double experience points (Double XP) time in "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" (Activision Blizzard's most successful game release of all time) with every purchase of specially marked Mountain Dew and Doritos products sold exclusively at Walmart.

During the promotion, codes featured on Mountain Dew products were used to bring Double XP time to gamers in the multi-player mode of "Modern Warfare 3." On top of the in-game rewards, each code entered on the promotion's website gave fans the chance to win one of seven sweepstake prizes. In addition, through a Mountain Dew Facebook contest, one lucky fan was given the opportunity to play the game on one of the largest HD screens in the world. The following video further details the co-operation, as well as the grand prize:

Speaking to Forbes about the promotion's success, Ken Strnad, marketing director for Mountain Dew, said, "This is on its way to being the most successful consumer promo that Dew has done in recent history, if not in history. We had terrific participation with consumers. We have about 1.5 million consumers that are participating right now. They're averaging somewhere in the ballpark of five to eight codes per participant."

Activation Blizzard's Double XP promotion generated a heightened excitement for the game's release, as players waited anxiously to cash in on their experience points. By attaching the promotion to low-selling items such as family-size Doritos, PepsiCo was able to boost sales while gaining direct access to "Call of Duty" gamers. In the most successful entertainment release of all time, this promotion demonstrates the extent to which marketing co-operations can succeed.

Subway and Sony PlayStation
In a marketing cooperation along the same lines as PepsiCo and Activision Blizzard, Subway and Sony PlayStation developed a cobranded campaign to launch the new PlayStation game, "Uncharted 3."

A month before the game's release, the "Subway Taste for Adventure" promotion gave players exclusive online access to the multi-player mode of "Uncharted 3" by purchasing specific items from Subway. Customers who purchased specially marked Uncharted 30 oz. drinks before Nov. 1, could enter a code online through a special Subway promotional site to get early access to the "Uncharted 3" multi-player mode. In addition, Subway items such as hats and T-shirts could be unlocked by uncovering Subway treasures within the game. For a deeper look into the co-operation, see the video below:

Providing access to the game a month before its launch not only benefited the players looking to get a jump on the competition, it also assisted PlayStation by generating user feedback prior to the game's official release. In doing so, PlayStation was able to finely tune "Unchartered 3" before its more extensive release. On the other hand, Subway motivated PlayStation gamers to purchase items in-store, which led to solidifying Subway's digital presence as players unlocked in-game subway treasures.

Vice Magazine and Intel
Developed by Vice Magazine and Intel, The Creators Project is a global network committed to fostering creativity, culture, and technology. The network's mission is to promote musicians, filmmakers, and visionary artists who use technology to realize their creative potential. The Creators Project consists of an online international community where daily editorial, webisodes, and documentaries are developed, creating an environment of digital content creation. Not only is the project confined to the online arena, it also entails a series of concerts, parties, and art installations, producing a global amalgamation of innovative digital artists. The following video from Rocketboom Tech features interviews with the founder of Vice Magazine and the CMO of Intel:

According to John Galven, Intel's director of sales, "I know people care about technology, whether it's a phone or a computer, but it's very difficult for us to get that across using traditional marketing tools. I was looking for a platform where it actually wasn't us talking. It was other people talking about us, and what we are able to do."

In creating a digital community for artists to enter, both Vice and Intel increased brand awareness among the creative online, building their image as platform providers for the digitally savvy. By throwing The Creators Project events for the most socially active individuals that broadcast nearly every thought and action, both companies tapped into the full potential of word-of-mouth marketing.

Disney and YouTube
In 2011, The Walt Disney Company and YouTube announced a new partnership to spend a combined $10 to $15 million on an original video series. Disney will produce the web series to be circulated on a co-branded channel on both Disney.com and YouTube. The first series produced will be based on Disney's popular "Where's My Water" app.

For both titans of media, the co-operation is a smart move. Realizing its inability to attract a large audience to its online distribution platform, Disney partnered with YouTube to distribute its new shorts on the most universally recognized source for video. In a discussion with The New York Times, James A. Pitaro, co-president of Disney Interactive, said, "It's imperative to go where our audience is." That audience is with YouTube, as new visitors to Disney.com dropped by over 5 million between June and September.

On the other hand, by receiving exclusive Disney videos, YouTube takes a step toward renovating its identity and creating a more family-friendly digital environment to counter-act concerns of offensive content.

Marketing co-operations can be powerful tools for companies looking to expand their digital horizons. Although the current state of economic instability may motivate your company to detach itself from others in order to realize discrete goals, it is important to stay flexible and open to companies with which you may align. In the end, success within the digital marketing environment may not solely depend on individual strength but the result of one's ability to cooperate with another.

Kyle Montero is an intern for iMedia Connection.

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Kyle Montero


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