Brand collaborations aren’t uncommon. And marketing executives maintain it’s for a good reason: these partnerships generate interest and improved engagement which can lead to valuable new opportunities.
But what happens when a brand gets involved in a collaboration or product launch that is seen by the public eye as, let’s say, stranger than most?
Boosting relevance and driving massive media attention, marketers have gotten creative in their partnership strategies this year. As 2022 is coming to an end, Digiday takes a look back on some of the strangest product launches and brand collaborations of the year.
The stunts could help brands connect to a new audience, said Damian Areyan, vice president of lifestyle marketing and partnerships at the ad agency Team One. “The brand can bring experiences to a new set of consumers that hopefully creates both buzz and intrigue and it’s the perfect time to make a strong first impression,” said Areyan.
Old Spice x Arby’s
Men’s hygiene care brand Old Spice teamed up with Arby’s over the summer to produce a limited edition “meat sweat kit” that infused the fragrances of the brand’s products with a slightly meaty scent. This is in line with the trend of fusing scents with meatiness. In the wake of an exhausting day, you have to wonder why would anyone want to smell like the local fast food chain when they are anticipating taking a shower?
Liquid Death x Martha Stewart
A Halloween-inspired luxury candle called “Dismembered Moments” was created by Liquid Death with Martha Stewart as part of its Halloween partnership this year. The candle features a matte black hand, that appears to be severed, holding a Liquid Death can. The partnership between Stewart and Liquid Death is a contrast to Stewart’s partnership with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, as it is in no way in line with her personality. Maybe that’s part of the brand’s strategy to stand out? Who knows!
Taking full advantage of TikTok’s trend of #theperfectmimosa, in which users are creating their own version of the drink, Tropicana created a mimosa maker to take advantage of this hot trend. You can craft your perfect mimosa with the Tropicana Mimosa Maker thanks to its three spray settings (Whisper, Spritz, Shower). “The brand quickly capitalized on the #theperfectmimosa online trend with a unique orange juice sprayer product, witty storytelling and a strong influencer network, to create a real cultural moment around people’s level of affinity for OJ in their bubbly,” said Areyan.
“Does anyone really need a meat-scented spray or a mimosa sprayer? Absolutely not,” said Marcus Wesson, chief creative officer at the ad agency 9thWonder. “But as media and engagement opportunities become more fragmented, we’ll likely see more of these unconventional, limited-run products turn heads.”
Fireball Whiskey x DC Shoes
After its recent campaign to win over Gen Z (of drinking age), Fireball Whiskey and DC Shoes released a gift set for the holidays that included red suede sneakers with whiskey-inspired gum soles branded with the Fireball branding. The liquor is aiming to capitalize on nostalgia specifically from the year 2009. The problem is, there is no proof anywhere that suggests Gen Z or millennials are so-called partying like it is 2009 all over again.
Warner Media x Hello Fresh
One brand rolled out the red carpet for the holiday season to close out the year of the weirdest brand collaborations. In collaboration with Warner Media, HelloFresh created the spaghetti dish from the beloved holiday movie Elf. You won’t find this plate of pasta anywhere else as it features Colavita spaghetti, maple syrup, chocolate syrup, marshmallows, chocolate nonpareils and chocolate frosted pastries. This is enough to book a dental appointment for cavities, or to stop eating sweets for a while if you’ve bought it, especially since the ad touting the partnership just screams “yuck.”
As social media and content continue to blend, brands need to find new ways to get noticed and to let people talk about their brands, Areyan explained. Collaborations are all built on OBI (other brands’ influence) and it is all about taking a piece of that pie. “Combining two very different brands or categories raises eyebrows and generates conversation as it’s a viable strategy to stand out in today’s environment,” said Areyan.