Have you ever worked on a group project at school?

If so, you probably remember that some went well and others not as synergistically.

The same applies to brand partnerships.

Sometimes co-marketing works because each brand attracts new audiences and the two can learn from each other.

However, this is not the case with all partnerships.

Below, let’s review some failed brand partnerships and discuss co-marketing mistakes to avoid them.

5 Brand partnership fails

1. Kendall Jenner and Pepsi

A few years ago, an important brand partnership between Kendall Jenner and Pepsi had failed. Pepsi featured Jenner in a commercial offering a lemonade to a police officer during a protest.

Here’s the commercial:

The reason this partnership failed was because audiences believed the two brands were tackling serious social and civic problems.

In essence, this commercial was perceived as tasteless and showed no social awareness.

2. Target and Neiman Marcus

In 2013, Target and Neiman Marcus developed a new clothing line.

However, Target’s customers are looking for low-cost options for mass trends, while Neiman Marcus is a luxury brand that offers expensive, edgy clothing.

Unfortunately, this collection did not take Target’s audience into account. The clothing line was too expensive and nervous for Target audiences.

When a high-end brand works with Target, prices are usually lower so customers can get trend-setting designs at an affordable price.

This partnership failed because the brands could not satisfy both target groups with their collection.

3. Kraft and Starbucks

A longstanding partnership resulted in a major legal battle.

When that partnership was successful, Kraft was able to help Starbucks grow by providing distribution services and helping the coffee brand establish a presence in grocery stores.

According to William Neuman of The New York Times, “Kraft claims Starbucks unilaterally decided to end their agreement, and Starbucks says Kraft failed to aggressively promote its brands, which include Seattle’s finest coffee, in stores.” “

Ultimately, this brand partnership failed due to poor communication and possibly poor execution.

4. Forever 21 and Atkins

Last year, Forever 21 decided to partner with Atkins by shipping Atkins snack bars to customers who had ordered online.

However, Forever 21’s target market did not appreciate the brand sending them weight loss bars. In fact, customers complained that the brand was physically shaming them.

Since the partnership was not explained to customers, some people assumed the bars were being sent to plus size customers who ordered online.

This partnership failed because it made no sense to the audience and the brands’ missions mismatched.

5. Shell and LEGO

Shell and LEGO were another example of brands that had worked together for years (around 50 years to be precise).

Initially, it made sense for LEGO to partner with an oil company as they can leverage Shell’s credibility with their racing cars and gas station kits.

However, LEGO eventually became a global kid entertainment brand, and the partnership no longer made sense given the oil company was known for bad environmental practices and oil drilling.

Ultimately, this partnership failed because of the public outcry from the LEGO audience and the impact on the brand’s reputation.

Now that we’ve reviewed some failed brand partnerships, let’s discuss why they aren’t doing well and examine some common co-marketing mistakes to avoid them.

Common co-marketing mistakes

  1. Bad communication.
  2. The brand stories don’t match.
  3. The partnership does not take customers into account.
  4. Badly written agreements.
  5. Badly executed.

1. Bad communication.

When working with another brand, it is important to communicate effectively and efficiently with one another.

You have to be honest about what the both of you are giving and getting from the partnership as it has to make sense for your brands.

Margot Mazur, a senior marketing manager in charge of co-marketing HubSpot, says, “Co-marketing is all about negotiation – you give some and you get some from your partner. Make sure you get from one Place out positivity, and instead of focusing on what you are going to get – whether it is promotional materials, advertising spend, or placement – focus on what you can give the partner to make sure they are Draws value from the relationship. “

She added, “On the other side of this email, there is a person who is trying to do their best job, just like you. Focus on strengthening that relationship, being honest and clear about expectations and needs , and your co-marketing offer is sure to be successful. “

2. The brand stories do not match.

Think about your brand message and story before working with another brand. Personalize your brand and see it as a person – who is your brand?

When choosing a partner, your brands should share the same values ​​and similar brand messages.

For example, if you’re an eco-friendly brand that works with an oil company, these stories don’t make sense together.

Your brand stories need to be aligned or your customers will notice and call you.

3. The partnership does not take customers into account.

As we have seen from some of our examples, it is important that a brand partnership makes sense for both target groups.

In fact, three of the five examples failed because the brand partnership didn’t make sense to the audience.

Before entering into a co-marketing relationship with any other brand, consider your audience. Will this partnership make sense to them? What would you think of your partnership?

It is important to answer these questions before proceeding with any co-marketing campaign.

4. Badly written agreements.

Unfortunately, some of our examples above had problems with contracts and agreements.

If you don’t have a detailed, well-written agreement, you could land in court for breaching your end of business.

Each partner should agree to every part of the partnership so that no one is disappointed.

5. Badly executed.

Another reason for partnership failure is poor execution. If implemented incorrectly, you can seriously damage your reputation.

If you are partnering with any other brand, make sure that both parties commit to it and execute the agreement with 100% effort.

After discussing why brand partnerships might fail, how can you avoid these mistakes?

Avoiding Co-Marketing Mistakes

Co-marketing can be hugely beneficial to both brands if it makes sense and adds value to your audience.

To avoid these mistakes, make sure you communicate with your partner and consider your customers.

For more information on co-marketing, check out our ultimate guide.

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