By Peter Lidgey, MD, OgilvyAction.
The most successful partnerships have always produced their best stuff together. Lennon and McCartney wrote the bulk of the Beatles back catalogue, but only after the pair met at a church garden fete in Liverpool.
Lennon, with his cynical edge and knack for introspection, and McCartney, with his storytelling optimism and gift for melody,complemented each other.
The most famous song-writing double act of the 20th Century may not have known it, but they were ahead of the game in following the basic formula for successful partnership marketing: the partnership came first; the ideas - the songs - came second.
Agencies often over-promise and under-deliver when it comes to finding partnerships because they use a traditional methodology: they think of an idea; pitch it to as many brands as possible; select the best one and make it happen quickly. This is not a collaborative process. It is simply selling, and it rarely produces the best results.
Lennon and McCartney would certainly have been successful songwriters in their own right, but by coming together there were real benefits in terms of creativity, reach and holding consumer attention. And so it is for brands that find synergy: the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
They understood the three key drivers of success in partnership marketing. The benefit, in terms of the value of the affiliation, was shared. Their brand values matched and consumers easily understood their strategy - to write and sell gloriously catchy pop songs. The majority of brand alliances fail or do not come to fruition because they do not meet these criteria.
It is increasingly difficult, especially in a time of recession, for brands to stand out in their respective categories. As brands scramble for consumer attention, aligning with other brands can help create a competitive point of difference and even propel a brand into a new category.
Lennon and McCartney's partnership propelled them from amateur song writers in a skiffle band to superstars at the centre of Beatlemania. The competition between the pair led to a creative outpouring, and they both wrote more than they ever had before to make sure they featured prominently on their next album.
Collaborations are more likely to happen and be successful if they follow the partner first; idea second principle. Brands that are candidabout their attributes and ambitions can paint a picture of who would be most likely to make the best partners and help them achieve their shared aims.
OgilvyAction asks companies keen on collaboration to fill in a minimum of three Something About Me(tm) questionnaires, which are designed to unearth some insights about a company's brand. Its aim is to identify the key characteristics of a brand and build a profile that makes it easier to identify and convince other brands to help a brand reach its full potential.
We consider responses and create a Something About Me(tm) summary. This paints a picture of a brand and its aspirations for the future, which is used to inspire existing and new partnerships. We can identify ideal brand partners and explore potential outcomes.
Clients can then agree a hierarchy of partners, based on shared visions. Potential partners then meet and scope out possible outcomes that can lead to new ventures.
This approach has resulted in some unlikely collaborations. One example is The Times partnership with Vue cinemas.
Times Newspapers identified key brand pillars that kept its readers engaged. The entertainment pillar provided opportunities to develop links with films, but there were no long-term partnerships that translated into sales. ‘Something About Me’(tm) uncovered the need to establish a consistent offer for readers to see critically-acclaimed films before their general release.
Vue provided a national network of family-friendly movie theatres and an opportunity to increase their reach by showing Times readers selected films for free each month before their release date and special screenings without adverts or trailers. Readers gained access to the films by using promotional codes from Times newspapers.
The partnership is now in its fifth year. It has engaged more than
100,000 Times readers and increased footfall to Vue cinemas.
The success of this partnership was the result of intelligent design, and not happy accident, just like Lennon and McCartney.
You might have some brilliant ideas to promote your brand's values in unison with another, but pop's perfect partnership recorded the ground rules in 1963. The idea should come second. First, find a brand that wants to hold your hand.
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