partnership marketing

What happens when two of the world’s mightiest brands assemble for a partnership marketing campaign? That’s what we’re going to take a closer look at with the ’Coca-Cola x Marvel: The Heroes’ campaign.

Coca-Cola x Marvel: The Heroes campaign | Media Post

Imagine a world where your favourite comic book heroes team up with the world’s largest fizzy drink brand. That’s exactly what Marvel (and Disney) and Coca-Cola are aiming for with their new campaign. If you think this is about selling more fizzy drinks or promoting the latest MCU films, then you’ve got it all wrong. It’s about how brands come together to create something truly special that has a long-term impact.

When it comes to partnership marketing, it’s all about using your collective strengths to reach a wider audience and create memories that last. Tapping into the universal appeal of superheroes and the nostalgic love for Coke, the idea was to create a campaign that resonated with audiences around the world.

But this isn’t the first time that these two brands have joined forces.

Let’s take a look at the history between Marvel and Coca-Cola

You may be surprised to learn that Disney and Coca-Cola have been in business with each other for more than 60 years.

In 2019, they did a similar campaign to the one they’re currently running where they tied Coca-Cola packaging to the 2019 release of ’Avengers: Endgame’. In 2023, they partnered with each other for another campaign that released limited-edition cans and sweepstakes where a trip to the Marvel Avengers Campus at Disneyland Paris was the prize.

2023 Coca-Cola and Marvel campaign | Don Thompson LinkedIn

These two behemoth brands have relied on partnership marketing for decades and it’s not just about slapping their logos together on a product or experience. It’s always focused on telling a compelling story, allowing fans and consumers to not just enjoy both brands but also create unforgettable memories and ultimately make them feel like the superheroes they look up to.

More about the ’Coca-Cola x Marvel: The Heroes’ campaign

On 8 April 2024, Disney announced its latest collaboration with Coca-Cola where consumers can unlock digital collectibles by scanning limited-edition packaging that features 38 illustrations of Marvel characters.

The brand launched the campaign with a film that blends animation and live action. Take a look.

Coca-Cola x Marvel: The Heroes campaign video | Coca-Cola

To be a part of this, consumers need to scan the Coca-Cola packages to unlock AR experiences and enter to win prizes, including autographed memorabilia, a Disney cruise, collectable influencer boxes, Disney+ subscriptions, and tickets for Marvel film screenings.

Each product will feature an MCU hero or villain, such as Loki, King Pin, Deadpool, Moon Knight, Wolverine, Captain America, Black Panther, Thanos, Colossus, and War Machine, to name a few.

The collaboration is set to be launched in multiple countries and regions, including China, Japan, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and of course, North America.

It’s clear that this campaign is one of epic proportions and neither Coca-Cola nor Marvel would’ve been able to pull it off without the collective power they both wield. This is why partnership marketing has become so important. A consensus would be that brands as big and loved as these would have the power to go at it alone, but the power of collaboration applies to everyone. This begs the following question.

If partnership marketing works for big brands, could it work for you?

Yes! Even though you may have the resources to pull off a great marketing campaign, collaborating with another brand that has similar values and can pool its resources with yours gives you double the firing power.

When we look at some key elements of partnership marketing, one of the most important factors to consider is choosing the right partner. Marvel and Coca-Cola were non-competing businesses, which made it far less complicated for them to work together and use each other’s strengths to bring value to the partnership.

’Coca-Cola x Marvel: The Heroes’ launch event | The Daily Reflector

Plus, they had access to completely different audiences and could cater to Coca-Cola’s consumers and Marvel’s die-hard fans. Now, if you’re thinking that this is something that could be interesting for your brand, there are a few things you need to know before you start scouting potential partners or collaborations.

The most important of these is finding the right partner. If the brand you choose to collaborate with doesn’t fit with your brand or what you’re trying to achieve, you’re much better off by yourself.

1: Take a look at their values with a fine-tooth comb

One of the most important factors to think about is values. Do the values of your prospective partner align with yours? Will it clash with your brand and what you stand for?

Don’t be afraid to have these conversations before signing on the dotted line and forge a partnership that could spell disaster for you. You and your partner need to share the same ethics and values or you could end up jeopardising your reputation.

2: Think about your common objectives

If you don’t have common ground when it comes to your objectives—keep looking. Finding those key goals that both brands can agree on is important because it doesn’t just help the collaboration go smoothly; it also helps get you to where you want to be much faster.

If you and your partner don’t agree on common goals, neither will make the impact you’re looking for.

3: Know your target audience

While this is an important point for any brand, it’s perfect for small businesses that want to get their brand out there and target a new market and audience at the same time. Make sure that your partner is someone who has an established customer base and is well-respected in their industry.

4: Choose a partner with a different skill set

Remember that the ultimate goal here is to bolster your business. Choosing a partner with the same skill sets as yours and doesn’t bring anything new to the table isn’t going to work. If your weakness is in branding, pick a partner who knows how to boost that part of your business.

Similarly, make sure that you bring something unique to the table. The skills you have shouldn’t duplicate theirs, instead, they should complement them.

Get everything in writing

You and your potential partner may have hit it off swimmingly, but ensure you get everything captured in a partnership agreement. It should have everything from the responsibilities of each brand to the methods used to accomplish the goal and the outcomes they expect from the partnership.

Now that you’ve got a pretty good idea about how brands should go about creating strategic partnerships that work, let’s take a quick look at what partnership marketing could do for your business.

Why brands should consider collaborating with other brands

Co-branding partnership examples | Persona Design

1: Stand out from the crowd

Today, consumers are bombarded with advertising campaigns. Using strategic partnerships to create brand differentiation can skyrocket your brand into the spotlight and connect with your target audience

2: Reinforce brand identity

If the goal is to propel brand awareness, partnerships can help you get there because they reinforce your brand. This is especially true when it comes to smaller businesses that want more awareness and elevate their credibility by working with larger, more established brands.

But it’s not all about the big guy helping out the small one. Bigger companies can also benefit from working with niche small businesses because they get to enter fresh market segments that they may not otherwise target.

3: Add value to your customers

Brand partnerships are an important part of delivering value to consumers. By carefully selecting your brand partners, you can introduce different programs for consumers, including loyalty programs and custom incentives that get your consumers excited about your brand.

4: Improve conversion rates

When customers see that you’re partnering with another brand, they are more likely to make a purchase. But don’t take our word for it—The Chartered Institute of Marketing reveals that 71% of consumers prefer co-branding partnerships.

These types of partnerships are perfect options for those who want to improve their brand visibility and improve customer conversions.

And that’s a wrap!

Partnership marketing is no doubt a powerful strategy. Just ask Coca-Cola and Disney! The fact that these two giant brands have been collaborating for 60 years should give marketers serious pause before knocking down a good partnership opportunity.

Whether you’re trying to get your brand in front of more consumers and target audiences or trying to create a buzz around your product for improved sales, there are many examples out there of how collaborations have helped brands stand out and transform.

As we look into the future of marketing, many lessons can be learned from the ’Coca-Cola x Marvel: The Heroes’ campaign including creativity, authenticity, and a deep understanding of audience preferences. The campaign serves as a fresh perspective on the endless possibilities that open up when two entities come together with a shared vision.