A recent article featuring former General Mills Chief Brand Officer and Allionce client Brad Hiranga eloquently summarizes the situation facing brand marketers today.
A handful of Brad’s many insights hit especially close to home for the Allionce team, as they closely align with our clients’ experiences and the work we are doing for them:
- “Brands have become more focused on understanding consumer challenges and more intentional about solving real problems for them…it’s about making real, human connections with the people we serve.”
- “It’s so easy to lose relevancy. (It’s) a constant job to make sure that you’re
understanding what your brand stands for.”
- “‘Everything is partnership-driven nowadays,’ Hiranga says, adding that finding a great partner is about navigating your way into culture while staying true to your brand’s purpose.”
Marketing via partnerships is by no means new, but as Brad indicates, the dynamics have changed dramatically.
Where once brand partners sought to connect with targeted audiences by sharing interest in a “passion point” such as a favorite sports team or musical artist, they now seek to immerse their consumers in relevant experiences that meet a need and resonate on a higher emotional level.
This shift is in part driven by the observer-to-role-player evolution exemplified by the rise of TikTok, Twitch and other platforms that enable individuals to move beyond being a fan or follower and step into the spotlight themselves with their own videos and streams or by commenting on others.
In this new environment, merely being a brand partner of a beloved club, event or celebrity no longer resonates unless it can be made meaningful through activations that change the role of the consumer from passive onlooker to active participant.
This updated approach to marketing does not only apply to the young adults, teens and tweens who comprise the TikTok generation, but also to older adults and, especially, families.
A good example of this in action is Nutella’s Breakfast with the Animals program. This series of exclusive, curated experiences at zoos across the U.S. provides families with a unique and shared adventure they will remember for a lifetime.
From up-close encounters with amazing creatures and inside information from zookeepers to time spent together outdoors and without distractions, families with young children are creating one-of-a-kind memories, all enabled by one of their favorite brands.
Through programs like these, Nutella and other brands—along with their zoo and aquarium partners across the country–are elevating the concept of sponsorship marketing beyond simply associating with and borrowing the imagery of something people care about. They are taking it to novel places where consumers and their families are the focal point, brand values are showcased and purpose is achieved.
Put another way by Allionce client Kalshelia Lloyd, Associate Director of Marketing for a global CPG manufacturer: “We’ve done a lot of big sponsorships. As a brand, it’s hard to get consumers’ attention. One of the benefits of this partnership with Allionce is the ability to get some real time with consumers and show up in a way that allowed us to own the experience. We’ve done other partnerships where we have been one of many brands, but those aren’t quite as successful.”
As the Brad Hiranga article suggests, reaching the point where consumers understand what a brand stands for at the same time they feel understood by the brand is the summit that marketers need to attain in order to achieve their objectives.
Many leading brands have found there are few, if any, better ways to obtain that marketing Holy Grail than by delivering experiences that bring awe, wonder and pure childhood joy to kids and families in the unexpected, uncluttered environment provided by zoos and aquariums.