Jo Coughlin of Mediator Communications reports back on the IPM’s first ever Partnership Marketing Conference, Creating the Perfect Blend

Partnership Marketing: the perfect blend


Jo Coughlin of Mediator Communications reports back on the IPM’s first ever Partnership Marketing Conference, Creating the Perfect Blend

In an ever-changing marketing landscape, brands are looking at alternative approaches to engage a hard to reach consumer. As a result, we’re seeing the growth of Partnership Marketing, as it earns its place amongst the marketing mix as a more engaging, effective and innovative tool.

This was the subject of the IPM’s recent conference, Creating the Perfect Blend, which took place on Friday 22nd April 2016. Organised in conjunction with the UK Partnership Panel and chaired by Mediator Communications’ Managing Director, Tara Honeywell, speakers from British Gas, Warner Music, Comic Relief, NOW TV, Cinema First, LiveNation and Fusion Festival discussed the pros and cons of Partnership Marketing, talked through case studies and drew on their own experience to talk about trends and best practice.

Everyday, consumers buy into brand propositions; often, those that resonate most are where great brands, retailers and common causes come together to create the perfect match. The conference saw those at the forefront of shaping the future of partnerships share their views on why partnerships has become so important in today’s marketing mix as well as demonstrate the powerful combinations that have grown brands.

There can be some ambiguity around what is meant by ‘Partnership Marketing’ and its scope. Tara Honeywell began the day’s proceedings by outlining the definition that was created by the UK Partnership Panel, whose role is to raise the profile of PM across the industry.

This definition states:

“Partnership Marketing is the discipline of brands working together to co-create ideas that are collectively more effective for their businesses and more compelling to their consumers.”

Matthew Leopold of British Gas then shared how the energy giant’s sponsorship with British Swimming created a ‘new world’ model of marketing partnerships, focusing on the depth of the ‘fanship’ rather than on the more activation-led approach which they had previously applied to the sponsorship.

By engaging people who care about the sport, British Gas was able to help British Swimming grow the fanbase and increase participation in the sport and in turn trigger likability, affinity and consideration of British Gas over the long term.

This deeper engagement and a more meaningful association helped change the way the customer felt about British Gas outside of a standard sponsorship badging exercise. Truly integrating the partnership and sharing objectives created a more credible association.

For Ciara Godley at Comic Relief, having clear objectives and working together has been the secret ingredient in Comic Relief’s hugely successful and long term partnership strategy.

Sainsbury’s has partnered with Red Nose Day for years and is their biggest partner outside of the BBC. Not only does the retailer raise a lot of money for charity, but it has also benefited itself – ‘Red Noses’ have driven footfall into stores and engaged with shoppers on a much deeper level. For Comic Relief, a flexible approach to a partnership and having passion and belief has reaped rewards for the charity and all involved.

Tanya Easterman from Cinema First took us through the journey of how Meerkat Movies changed the game of movie partnerships by applying a full business response to the partnership with significant investment that built the momentum.

For Cinema First, it was important to re-invigorate the ‘Orange Wednesday’ proposition and evolve the partnership. It was important for them when choosing a new partner that this was a genuine partnership that promoted the industry and would drive incremental business for all parties. For the cinema industry, the partnership has opened the offer up to multiple day visits and are looking at a family offering and for Compare the Market they’ve retained customers as well as impacting customer perceptions.

Tara Honeywell closed the day with a round-up of the outtakes, from movie and charity partnerships to sponsorships and music collaborations there were three clear aspects required to create the perfect partnership:

  • Strategy first;
  • Collaborative approach;
  • Clear KPIs and evaluation metrics.

The IPM’s Managing Director, Carey Trevill concluded: ‘We decided that Partnership Marketing as a discipline needed a spotlight – an important part of any marketers tool kit, this first Partnership Conference started to explore the future thinking of the industry. We were delighted to work with the Partnership Panel on this and look forward to a close working relationship in the coming year.”

If you are looking to use partnerships to help your brand grow take a look at the Partnership Panel’s Best Practice Guidelines.

Jo Coughlin is New Business Director of partnership marketing agency Mediator Communications. She can be contacted on

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