When it comes to selecting the perfect partner for your promotion, cause effort or communication efforts, strategic thinking should always trump availability. Rather than accepting the offer of properties or entities that come to you, you should pursue the perfect partner to embody or compliment the essence of your own brand, organization or initiative. But some recent team-ups in the youth space suggest that this bit of conventional wisdom and common sense marketing might be ready for a rethink.
Let’s face it – sometimes the most intriguing initiatives or most unexpectedly effective pairings were due to serendipity more than strategy. And some unlikely partners have popped up in categories closest to the hearts of youth. This generation has grown up expecting that country crooners (young and old) can partner with pop stars. Or that hard rockers might make nice with pop princesses. One look at the recent “chemistry” created (or attempted to be created) on American Idol attests to the desire to see what happens when J. Lo and Steven Tyler get together or when Nikki Minaj, Keith Urban and Mariah Carey share a stage. Of course, genre bending and blending might be too bold a move for many brands. But one promotional partnership that brings together unlikely partners recently caught our eye.
With its “Flag for the Future” contest, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGS) have teamed with Vivienne Westwood and Green Peace. WAGGS and Green Peace have solicited designs for a flag that will represent “the youth of the world; a flag for peace, hope and global community” according to the contest website. The winning design will be taken to the North Pole, where it will be lowered four kilometers beneath the ice and plant it on the seabed in a time capsule containing the signatures of millions of “Arctic defenders.” The contest and its sponsors hope to remind those who find the flag (assuming the ice cap will, tragically, melt to reveal it) that the Arctic should belong to all people, not one nation.
Certainly, the Girl Scouts have been quite public about their own brand of girl power in recent years, so perhaps partnering with the outspoken designer, whose early fashion identity was more closely linked to the Sex Pistols and punk scene than the playground, is a more natural fit than it might seem. But perhaps this was intentional? WAGGS clearly wants to make a statement about the bold acts required to save the earth, and they believe that the girls who participate in their programs are ready to handle it.
It’s hard to fathom that U.S. Girls Scouts would have a strong connection to Green Peace or Westwood, and it’s doubtful that their parents would find them to be persuasive. At least at first glance. But perhaps this is the point. The modern marriage of property, celebrity and brand might be more about leading than following, and as much about exposure to the “new” as it is about borrowed equity. This promotion might be challenging the rules of traditional promotions, but isn’t pushing the thinking of girls (and their parents) these entities’ true goals?
In the Millennial brandscape, unconventional pairings seem to be preferred over the neat and strategic brand fits of years past. This doesn’t necessarily mean that brands should take the first offer that comes their way. But it might mean that the perfect partner is more different than similar. Of course, not every partnership or promotion has the same goals, but expanding our view of what “fits” with our brands might lead to brand events that are more relevant to youth.