Magazine article Marketing

Dangerous Liaisons

Magazine article Marketing

Dangerous Liaisons

Article excerpt

On the surface joint promotions seem to rank among marketing miracles -- better exposure for less cash. Cathy Bond digs deeper, however, and finds that while some firms can find the perfect soulmate, others suffer a marriage made in hell

A marriage made in heaven, a meeting of minds, the perfect match. A joint sales promotion aims to bring together two brands with a common aim: access to a wider market for less money.

At least, that's the theory. In practice, most partnered clients are candidates for marriage guidance long before the promotion is up and running. And when they cut and run, it is often the matchmaking sales promotion agency which picks up the tab for all the legwork which came to naught.

Why, then, is a joint promotion still a high priority for both clients and agencies? First, it may be high-risk but if it works it achieves far more than a single brand could on its own. Second, few clients can resist listening to an agency which has done its homework and can parade suitable partners.

Many brands are joining forces to boost what might have been workaday pre-Christmas promotions. For some, the reward will be exposure in new markets. Others will benefit from a discount offer or competition they might not otherwise have funded. Everyone, it is hoped, will bask in the reflected glory of a carefully chosen partner.

This month Guinness and the travel-agency chain Going Places have united to offer holiday discount vouchers with take-home Guinness multipacks.

"Guinness wanted a travel promotion, and Going Places wanted to get into the supermarket environment," says Peter Rooke, a director of The Yellow Submarine, which created the promotion. A tiny in-pack holiday brochure with instant money-off coupons sells escapism for Guinness, and spells out the travel agent's range of services, too.

The consultancy also brought together Seattle Inc's game Pictionary with Weetabix's Weetaflakes in a promotion. The game has become a regular feature in Bacardi's marketing strategy.

Rooke, like many sales-promotion consultants, spends a lot of time at square one, pinpointing brand names with similar clout in their sectors, and operating in markets which are not only complementary, but which could actively help each other. Yellow Submarine has an extensive database for cross-matching products and sectors.

It is labour-intensive work which clients are reluctant to pay for if the promotion does not come off -- and the vast majority don't. "One formula we have used is a three-stage fee which covers creating a proposal and approaching partners, negotiating, and successful results," says Marketing Principles' managing director David Croydon.

Some clients prefer to do it themselves. John Newcombe, previously head of promotions at Woolworths, recently took over as marketing director of Addis, one of the UK's top kitchenware brands. He is launching a new line of children's storage equipment called Treasure Chests, with a promotion which brings in Lego's pirate range.

According to Newcombe, it is only the first stage of a programme of partner promotions which will develop as Addis builds up what is in essence a marketing consortium with Pifco, Hornsea Pottery and Westclox, which already produce co-ordinated kitchen products. "It needn't stop at sharing market data, or developing joint products," says Pifco marketing director Brian Dent. …

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