As I was putting together material for our upcoming book, I came across several examples of two brands working together to create a mutual experience that benefits both equities, and especially their joint customers. One example I ran across while staying at my regular W Hotel in NYC (541 Lexington) is the above offer for a free ride in an Acura MDX. I didn’t have time to take a ride, but I saw another great example of Marketing with Meaning.
This is a clear example of a win-win-win for all three parties. W Hotels gets to offer another service under its umbrella brand of “Whatever/Whenever,” which itself is a great way to differentiate their hotels from the many choices business travelers have around the world. And this comes at zero cost to the hotel chain. Acura gets a chance to connect with W Hotel customers, likely the kind of young, higher-income crowd that is in the sweet spot for its vehicles. These people can be difficult to reach with traditional, interruptive ads. And a free ride is a great chance to let prospects sample the vehicle in a low-pressure way.
Of course, let’s not forget the benefit to the customer. He or she gets a free ride in a cozy car by a considerate driver who knows his way around town. The customer also feels appreciated, and may feel a little like a big shot or movie star. This is a meaningful experience for the customer that connects her closer to both the W Hotel and Acura brands.
I have run across a few other examples of diverse brands hooking up to build mutually valuable experiences. A while back I wrote about Honda and Mattel hooking up for a special-edition Hot Wheels collectible car. There’s the Nike/Apple join-up with the Nike+ system. I read recently about the story behind how Fox and 7-Eleven partnered to create a dozen branded Kwik-E-Marts to support last year’s The Simpsons Movie. And I also recently came across the story of how Victoria’s Secret put on a fashion show last year in the aisle of Virgin Airways. (Check out the photos below for a glimpse of these diverse experiences.)
These experiential tie-ins seem to work best when the brands share both a common target customer and brand equity elements. The Simpsons and 7-Eleven both target 18-34 Men, for example. But they also take corporate organizations that are willing to give up some control and ownership to the other side. It’s a great exercise to conduct for your own brand: Think about other relevant brands in your customer’s life and consider the synergies that lie around a partnership, and then pick up the BlackBerry and reach out. Chances are there will be another marketer out there similarly looking for ideas to something new and meaningful.