Synchronicity can be a beautiful thing — especially when you find the brand partnerships that connect your product to an entirely new market. Here are five examples of brand partnerships with social media influencers and the marketing strategies that made them successful.
Shopping for a pair of shoes, a device, or a rideshare? You may have noticed more and more cross-promotion everywhere you look. Here’s a look at 5 top brands that are partnering with other businesses, celebrities, and micro-influencers to reach distinct niche audiences.
1. Taylor Swift + Keds Shoes Partnership
Taylor Swift is well known for her high-profile brand partnerships. The majority of them are carefully curated, so as to speak to both her audience and the business’ audience.
Her partnerships are always on-brand, and her marketing team finds a way to use customer data to craft partnerships that:
- Offers additional value to the shared audience (PixMob and LED bracelets for concertgoers, convenience for her listeners with Apple Music)
- Embody and strengthen her brand (Keds reinforced the image of the capable girl next door – a persona that both Keds’ ideal audience and Swift’s existing audience identify with)
- Improve her market positioning (Diet Coke ads in which one of her songs off 1989 premiered)
While the partnerships seem like serendipity at first, there is a well-thought-out strategy behind every single one. (Cross brand analysis is less chance and more powerful data analytics…)
Keds + Taylor Swift Brand Partnership Timeline
In 2011, right as Swift was releasing a new album, Red, she and Keds announced a multi-year partnership.
From that point onward, it was clear that Swift had always been smart about publicizing her albums and her own activity through carefully selected partnerships that reinforced her message, while also serving the needs of businesses she partnered with.
Her audience appreciates it, as Swift’s marketing team always finds a way for that partnership to stay true to the persona Swift embodies, and provides additional value to her existing audience.
According to Keds’ press release, they chose Swift as their partner because she “embodies their spirit, style, and sensibility.” For a brand that prides itself on comfort and casual charm, Swift was the perfect partner. Additionally, their audiences overlap.
Keds chose their partner wisely. As they state, they are a brand whose ideal customers are young women who “have moxie and lead multi-faceted lives.”
It’s no coincidence; Taylor Swift’s audience are also young women who are brave enough to be themselves.
The most notable aspects of the strategy consisted of:
- Multimedia campaigns (Both Keds’ and Swift’s audiences use mobile devices)
- Community creation (Scholarship opportunities, social media initiatives like shoppable Instagram feeds, limited edition Keds commemorating Swift’s album Red, product personalization)
- Crafting a message that supported both Keds’ and Swift’s brands (Campaigns: Ladies First, Braveheart)
— Taylor Swift Updates (@TSwiftLA) July 21, 2015
Results from the Taylor Swift and Keds Partnership
Keds + Swift’s 1989 promotion tour alone engaged over 2.1M fans who took part in her shows, generated over 400K Instagram impressions, and resulted in over 100K in sales of branded items and coupons.
Ultimately, Keds successfully rebranded their shoes to appeal to a new generation of women.
The major part of that success was their partnership with Taylor Swift. She helped them reach their shared audience; Gen Z and Millennial women who fell in love with their shoes and their mission by way of loving Swift’s persona.
2. Casey Neistat + Nike and Samsung Crossover Marketing
Casey Neistat is a product of the contemporary era, an individual whose claim to fame is that he is a YouTuber and a vlogger. After vlogging his adventures and reviewing products, Neistat rose to prominence and even went on to start his own multimedia companies.
Today, he is a filmmaker known for his modern approach to advertising. It was this approach that drew Samsung to him.
Neistat doesn’t produce ads or offer ad space to companies; he creates native ads through storytelling. He knows his audience well, and knows that they value authenticity before anything else.
In an era where brands are increasingly facing consumer pushback when it comes to ads (millions of users have ad-blockers installed), major brands including Nike and Samsung recognized it, and partnered with Neistat whose audience matches their own: Millennials.
Neistat and Nike’s Partnership Results
On April 8, 2012, Nike launched a video titled “Make It Count,” produced by Casey Neistat.
Officially, Nike wanted to promote its new product: Fuelband.
However, after collaborating with Nike for a longer period of time, Neistat wanted to help the brand reach its target audience in a way they responded to best: storytelling.
In the video, Neistat was upfront about being sponsored by Nike. He took his audience on a trip around the world to show them what he’s doing with the money Nike gave him.
Similarly to Nike, Neistat believes in telling authentic stories. In his words, “What [Make It Count] means to me is take a huge chance.”
Many could relate to that and consequently, they were also able to relate with Nike’s vision, leading to increased sales. Nike has always been vocal about encouraging people to make their dreams come true, and Neistat was the perfect partner to drive the message home.
The authenticity allowed both Neistat and Nike to connect with different members of the same target audience without compromising each brand’s unique reputation.
Ultimately, the video garnered over 14 million views.
I rotate running shoes everyday which means keeping a stable of sneakers. Fresh foam makes a difference pic.twitter.com/LxmS1PNAFm
— Casey Neistat (@Casey) August 9, 2017
Neistat and Samsung’s Cross-Promotion Results
Having the right audience data proved to be crucial for the success of Samsung’s Neistat-fueled campaigns.
Samsung’s original goal was to form deeper relationships with Neistat’s (and their own) audience. Since the majority of Millennials prioritize relationships with brands over price points, it made sense to approach the partnership from that standpoint.
As a filmmaker, Neistat needs high-quality gear to create amazing stories, and Samsung provided it under one condition: that he showed his audience what he filmed with Samsung’s products.
This led to Neistat:
- Using Samsung’s 360-degree camera to show what it’s like to walk the red carpet at Oscars
- Using specially-created Samsung drones to capture the beautiful landscape of Finland
The partnership left both parties content.
Neistat was producing high-quality content in an organic manner he is famous for, while Samsung rose in popularity among its target audience members. (Don’t know who your company’s target audience is? See your full customer picture.)
Not only did Samsung attract more customers, but they also won awards at Cannes in 2017.
3. KFC and DrLupo Brand Partnership
Gaming is the hottest new industry for brands who want to make sure their success isn’t forgotten in the era of entertainment-oriented Gen Z’ers.
Brands that want to integrate themselves into new spaces and attract the attention of new audiences are looking for influencers to pair up with. However, YouTuber influencers are no longer as popular of a choice. Twitch streamers, people who play video games for millions of their followers, are the new targets of brands.
DrLupo, whose real name is Ben Lupo, is a Twitch streamer who commonly plays Fortnite and PUBG.
In 2018, KFC partnered with DrLupo for a special event in which every viewer could get a coupon code whenever DrLupo won in the game.
The partnership was contextually appropriate; there is a saying in PUBG whenever a player wins a game – “Winner winner chicken dinner.” KFC used this inside joke to promote their own business.
Whenever DrLupo (or one of his partners) won, all viewers had to do was respond with the right emote and get a discount code. Additionally, the viewers got a chance to receive a special themed loot box.
OK Ninjas ! KFC Chicken Dinner Challenge starts today !!
Will be live at 4pm cst & event starts at 5pm, Every time @DrLupoOnTwitch and I win a chicken dinner in PUBG, Twitch Chat wins loot crates and real @KFC chicken dinners. 🍗 🐓🍗 #SPONSOREDhttps://t.co/0z0Ju41PIh pic.twitter.com/H5am4MgBBp
— ▪️Anthony Kongphan▪️ (@AnthonyKongphan) March 25, 2018
Why the Audience Overlap Matters
KFC’s partnership with DrLupo was yet another example of a contemporary brand partnership done right.
After all, Twitch audience makes up for a significant portion of KFC’s audience. This partnership was a work of careful audience data analysis:
- 81.5% of Twitch users are male
- 55% of them are between ages 18-34
- 80% of users view sponsored content in a favorable light
Finally, not only did KFC partner with DrLupo, but they successfully connected their brand to the famous video game saying.
This partnership goes on to show that, regardless of the nature of the brand, every business that wants to stay competitive needs to consider new media platforms as viable ways of connecting with their potential customers.
In turn, modern celebrities (such as YouTubers and Twitch streamers) can benefit from working with big brands who help them reinforce their credibility and stimulate even more positive sentiment from their audiences.
4. Apple + Oprah Winfrey Brand Partnership
Oprah Winfrey is never going to go out of style, and Apple recognized that. While the tech giant may have originally targeted techies, their target audience has changed over time. Today, even Baby Boomers have iPhones and show them off proudly.
So what better way to reach the older generations than with a partnership that helps both parties get more influence?
Apple originally decided to sign a multi-year partnership contract with Oprah Winfrey to promote its video streaming service.
Winfrey would create original content for them, helping them popularize their service while simultaneously reaching more members of her desired audience.
The official statement went on to say:
“Together, Winfrey and Apple will create original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world.”
It is clear from that statement that Apple is looking to use some of Winfrey’s conversational charm and ability to connect with audiences across generations to boost its own figures as they prepare for launch.
While the partnership is still in its infancy, it seems Apple made the right choice. Oprah managed to get Prince Harry to collaborate with her on her mental health series.
The conversation about mental health will help Apple popularize their streaming service not only among the demographic that Winfrey has been successful at capturing so far (Gen X, Baby Boomers), but Millennials, as well.
Additionally, this partnership adds a human note to Apple’s brand.
The second project Winfrey is creating for Apple deals with harassment in the workplace, yet another burning topic that could catch the eye of millions – if not billions.
Winfrey herself stated that she is looking forward to speaking to a much bigger audience, going on to say: “They’re in a billion pockets, y’all. A billion pockets.”
Oprah Winfrey is working on two documentaries for AppleTV+ and
a new book club 📚
“I’m joining forces with Apple,” she says. “They’re in a billion pockets, y’all.” pic.twitter.com/IFbSWz2N9G
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) March 25, 2019
The Brilliance of the Partnership between Apple and Oprah
In order to fully understand the importance of the synergy between Apple – a modern brand – and Oprah Winfrey, a producer and TV show host loved by Gen X and Baby Boomers, it is first necessary to understand that each party is getting something out of the partnership.
Apple has decided to expand their influence across generations. They noticed their products and their brand are popular even with people who are not digital natives, and they couldn’t have picked a better partner than Winfrey herself.
Winfrey, on her part, is hoping to reach new audiences.
It is only a matter of time before Apple becomes synonymous with compassion and understanding – all because of this partnership.
5. Martha Stewart + Uber Brand Partnership
Speaking of seemingly counter-intuitive partnerships, Martha Stewart and Uber have joined forces to promote the luxurious version of Uber – Uber Black.
Following her social media posts where she ranted angrily about the state of her ride, Uber decided to partner with her to create a more stylish way of getting from point A to point B.
After her disastrous first ride, Martha’s been contracted to make Uber Black rides feel just like rides in limos.
It only takes consumer data analysis to understand that a significant portion of people who follow Martha Stewart shy away from getting Ubers. Some of them don’t understand the concept, or fear what will happen to them if they use the popular ride-sharing app.
Additionally, the partnership with Martha Stewart gave Uber a dose of nostalgia. It’s always a good asset for winning over the hearts of consumers (or at least, generating positive sentiment that Uber sorely needs after the 2018 fiascos).
The Logistics of the Cross-Brand Partnership
In May 2019, Uber published a post in which Martha Stewart created her perfect Uber Black trip.
It was a way of showcasing the new features created in cooperation with the domestic goddess.
The emphasis was placed on comfort, a significant problem for many potential customers who don’t use Uber because of that very reason. Uber showcased how Stewart requested a quiet ride and help with her bags – all features that are now available with Uber Black.
Publicly, Stewart has been complimenting Uber even after the first disastrous ride, and especially after partnering with them.
By saying that she is looking forward to new technologies that make lives easier, she has effectively managed to reach the significant portion of Uber’s potential customers who weren’t quite sure if Uber was more suited to them or their grandchildren.
As a de-facto spokesman, not only is Stewart getting more popular with newer generations, but she is also helping Uber reach the people they weren’t able to reach before. And according to Uber’s 2019 Q2 report, they are doing just fine.
It’s a win-win.