Last week I learned the highly anticipated sequel to Anchorman was hitting theatres in December and the 2014 Dodge Durango was coming to market with a number of new innovations. I didn't seek out this information, nor did I learn about it at a movie theatre, on TV, or through brand websites.
I found out through a YouTube video on my Facebook newsfeed.
Brand partnerships are not new, but this particular one caught my eye.
Chrysler partnered with Paramount Pictures for the release of the latest Durango. Instead of choosing a more obvious partner, such as a celebrity race-car driver, the company went in an unexpected direction and selected a fictional character in an upcoming film, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, to be its latest spokesperson. A brilliant move by Chrysler and Paramount.
The value of brand partnerships has been recognized in the marketing industry for years. Forming an alliance allows businesses to harness the combined power of multiple brands and personalities, often giving campaigns an extended and more diversified reach.
Traditionally, however, these partnerships tend to be more obvious: for example, Speedo's deal with Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, or ShoeDazzle's partnership with celebrity stylist and TV personality Rachel Zoe.
What we're starting to see more often are unexpected alliances between brands that perhaps aren't – at first glance – a natural fit. Upon closer examination, many of these less obvious choices are proving smarter and more strategic.
Chrysler's latest multimedia campaign debuted in early October, with a series of videos featuring Ron Burgundy (played by Will Ferrell), the lead character in Anchorman 2, as the pitchman for the Durango. The original content for these ads was created specifically for social media. Knowing Anchorman has a cult-like following, Chrysler was able to tap into that audience and create content that fans of the movie would appreciate and share, which is how it ended up in my newsfeed.
Since debuting last week, the videos have gone viral, already earning about 2.7 million views.
When it comes to brand partnerships, businesses traditionally tend to focus too much on logic and not enough on creativity. Chrysler didn't pick just any fictional character to represent its brand, it chose one with a huge fan base, allowing it to effectively tap into a new audience.
It might not have been the logical first choice, but it was certainly a smart one. With both brands launching new products, the timeliness of this partnership is proving mutually beneficial.
Another recent example of an unexpected but mutually beneficial partnership is the one between famed hip-hop artist, Drake and the Toronto Raptors. As the basketball team's new global ambassador, Drake puts an international spotlight one Canada's only NBA squad while building his own credibility as a budding businessman.
Timing is perfect for both parties as the Raptors are gearing up to host the 2016 NBA All-Star Game, a process that includes a lengthy brand overhaul, and Drake is promoting his new album while looking to build his burgeoning personal brand. Selecting a musician over a notable sports figure to represent the team may seem like a mismatch, but it has already paved new avenues for both brands.
As brands continue to look for ways to cut through the clutter to capture the attention of consumers, we'll likely see more risk taking and creative partnerships through social media. When it works, the payoff in terms of consumer awareness and shares can exceed expectations.
Mia Pearson is the co-founder of North Strategic. She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing communications agencies, and her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle.