Technology is heralding a brave new world of creative partnership marketing, but we’re not just talking about Match.com for brands. A little human meddling still goes a long way, says Richard Barnes, MD of Promotions at Brand & Deliver.
The technological juggernaut is unstoppable and brand partnerships is no exception. I’ve worked in entertainment partnerships for over 15 years and to say things have changed is an understatement. It’s also enough time to know what draws people to the industry; and – from directors to graduates – the scope to be creative is still one of the biggest pull factors.
Some of the best partnerships have been delivered before the dawn of programmatic, such as X Men and Reebok’s ‘I am what I am’, an inspired idea that used good old fashioned cross-referencing of campaign themes and messaging against the movie IP and brand pillars. This dynamic and memorable partnership was created more than a decade ago by nothing more than human imagination and creativity.
This has always been a people job, but now we’re faced with a growing demand from clients to do things better, faster and more cheaply. That’s where automation comes in.
Long after the dawn of programmatic media buying and the introduction of software that tracks sentiment across social media, partnership marketing is finally coming of age and embracing the power of programmatic.
The human touch still needed
But the fact that partnerships can be programmed in this way doesn’t mean the job we love no longer exists and that there is no need for the human touch. Optimising efficiency in our industry (which is what the programmatic element does) doesn’t remove the need for the creativity, contacts and negotiation that made us successful in the first place.
‘Programmatic partnership marketing’ is a bit of a mouthful and probably needs a rebrand; but in reality it means using the connections and insights that technology can provide to take a brand into new worlds, beyond the parameters of an individual’s knowledge and contacts, identifying potential partners that at first glance are not an obvious fit.
In partnership marketing, programmatic can be powerful and far reaching and allows us to scale our work more efficiently and consistently. We can come up with a list of brands that fit the brief on everything from theme to location to budget, based on a wide range of criteria.
We took an automated approach to partnerships on the Angry Birds Movie, which led to a multi-market partnership with the Peperami and BiFi meat snack brands, with the tagline ‘The Official Stunt Animal of the Angry Birds Movie’. Would we have thought of it on our own? Possibly. Would we have built the partnership that ran across eleven markets as quickly and efficiently as we did? I doubt it.
Far from removing the element of creativity from the partnership process, programmatic actually enhances it. It allows us promotional professionals extra time to focus on building creative ideas and ultimately putting together the best relationships, rather than following through on the first ones that stick. The result? Better, more interesting, more creative campaigns that take the concept of a brand partnership outside of our comfort zone and into a new world where everyone is a potential partner, as long as we’re willing to find the sweet spot.
Richard Barnes is Managing Director of Promotions at Brand & Deliver, a full service creative marketing agency delivering experiential, digital, film, design, partnerships, promotions and marketing to a range of clients including LG, Universal, IMG (Fashion Week), Ferrari, Sony Pictures and Three.