Technology drives how we live. It helps us perform everyday tasks at the touch of a screen. It’s gamified our lives. And it’s increasingly connecting us to the internet of things (‘there’s an app for that’). So it’s no wonder that more and more brands are pairing up with high-tech pioneers to position themselves as forward-thinking futurists in an era where technology is so integral to our lives.
As a brand strategy designed to utilise one another’s strengths and bring success to both parties, brand partnerships have been around for a long time. Way back in 1954, Renault were using the skills of jewellers Van Cleef & Arpels to turn one of their car dashboards into a work of art.
Today, brand partnerships are a key driver behind the growth of the world’s most successful companies, as they share their similar visions and values to promote themselves and each other. And those partnerships that revolve around the use of sci-fi-style tech are proving particularly successful. Here are a few examples of the most interesting high-tech partnerships in recent times.
Drone Racing League and Cox Communications
Drones are big business. Whilst the majority are still used for military purposes, the consumer and commercial sectors are growing exponentially. Worth just over £1.6n in 2015, the global commercial drones market is set to break the £8bn barrier in 2022.
This rise in non-military drone usage is reflected in the popularity of the DRL – the Drone Racing League – in which people race drones on real courses at breakneck speed.
Pretty cool, huh? Cox Communications, a telecommunications company, definitely thought so. To the point where they took the opportunity to improve their brand perception by partnering with the Drone Racing League.
With the help of the DRL’s own creative team, DRL and Cox have created a series of marketing communications based on the shared ‘passion for speed’. These include an ad showing one of the DRL’s stars, Nick Willard, flying a drone around his mother’s house at thrill-seeking speeds, as well as a ‘4D thrill ride’ that will give fans a first-person perspective on what it’s like to be a drone flying through a DRL course.
“We need to find new and more exciting ways to get our story out there,” Gaston Vaneri, SVP of brand for Cox, said, as reported by Adweek. “Because it’s leading technology, and it’s massively exciting that we are going to build the internet of the future. It should come through that way.”
Not that drones are limited to sexing up telecommunications – these days, they’re not the only kind of model that belongs on the fashion catwalk.
Red Bull and GoPro
Red Bull gives you wings, as its famous advertising slogan says. So, if Red Bull can send you into the skies, powered by its secret recipe (sugar + water + caffeine… shh, don’t tell anyone), then it’s only natural to ask: what’s the view like from up there?
In answering this question, Red Bull turned to the kings of capturing the moment, GoPro, for a beautifully synergised brand collaboration. The most dynamic and high-energy camera brand on the market, GoPro have tapped into the modern-day need to immortalise every moment, whether it’s heading to the shops or heading into space:
As two brands who have positioned themselves way beyond just a caffeine-boosted beverage and modern-day Kodak, Red Bull and GoPro are a match made in heaven. Because if Red Bull, through its formula one racing team, aerobatic flying fleet and Red Bull footballing franchise, inspire endless Instagrammable moments, then GoPro, with their hyper-portable and unbreakable hardware, effortlessly captures them.
Brand partnerships don’t get much more quid pro quo than that.
McDonald’s and Uber
Making fast food even faster, McDonald’s finally made the long-held dream of McDelivery a reality by teaming up with Uber Eats earlier this year.
It’s a wise move from McDonald’s, who have a clear market to satisfy with regards home delivery, and through Uber have a ready-made network of round-the-clock cabbies to do the driving.
As we’ve seen from retail stalwarts like Borders and Toys R Us, even the biggest businesses can suffer if they don’t move with the times. McDonald’s have learned that lesson and are teaming up with one of the most forward-thinking brands since its launch in 2011.
Uber, too, will have gained considerable kudos from the brand partnership. After all, who hasn’t dreamed of having a McDonald’s delivered to their door when nursing particular vindictive hangovers?
As Kantar UK’s head of business development, Jane Bloomfield, explains, “These brands have built a deeper customer experience that has completely disrupted how we shop or engage.”
A successful venture for both brands, this pairing has helped McDonald’s achieve a 29% boost in its brand value in 2018, with a worth of £98bn – the eighth most valuable in the world. Whilst, with a value of £12.5bn, Uber have climbed into the top 100 for the first time.
It’s no surprise that we’ve seen a spike in long-established brands teaming up with their newer, high-tech counterparts. The need to innovate – and to be seen to be innovating – is crucial in swerving the fate of once-kings of the retail and service sector worlds like Woolworths, Borders and Blockbuster.
And for emerging, tech-based brands, the benefits of brand collaborations with household names is a huge plus in establishing their credibility to new audiences and as a way to stand out from the competition.
The only question is, who’s going to cosy up together next?