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Union Connect Account Director, Keri Wyatt, highlights how Partnership Marketing can be powerful and relevant in challenging times.

Who are your friends?

This is the question that all brands should be asking themselves. Partnership Marketing is in essence a method of leveraging strategic ‘friendships’.

What exactly is Partnership Marketing?

Partnership Marketing is when two or more organisations, brands or bodies work together to reach their audiences with a message that creates mutually beneficial response.

For example, Adidas, the German sportswear giant has set up a number of strategic partnerships to continue to reach its audiences as they change and become more eco conscious, partnering with Parley for the Ocean to launch a range made from recycled plastic bottles and waste found in the sea.

Adidas Originals’ global director of digital and retail marketing, Swave Szymczyk told

“Partnerships are definitely very important. As long as they are not only strategic but also reflect who we are as a brand and what we believe in, it really drives authenticity.”

“You can talk about who you are as a brand all day long but having those partnerships to authenticate that message is really critical for every brand.”

It could be argued that Partnership Marketing is often forgotten about in the marketing mix as it is a “below the line” discipline. But if you look behind the marketing strategies of brands, charities, and public sector bodies you will often see national and global campaigns hinging ultimately on Partnership Marketing. Partnership Marketing can be utilised as either a single campaign strand or as part of an integrated approach.

There are a few key ways Partnership Marketing can add value to the marketing mix:

“Money can’t buy” reach – partnerships can open up placements not available for media purchase, often underused channels with high opportunity to see.

New innovative marketing solutions – through working in collaboration with partners, a combined approach can solve multiple issues for your audiences.

New direct communication channels – through partners that can reach an audience directly in an authentic manner.

Reach specific audiences – opportunity to partner with organisations who have access to audiences that are a challenge to reach with traditional or digital media.

Trusted voices – speak to your customers through partners that are seen as trusted or valued, making use of a voice of authority, knowledge, respect and/or influence.

Valuable insight – partners can provide key audience insight that can influence your strategy.

PR opportunities – partnership announcements alone can be PR-able events, but there is also publicity power in creating joint activity that provides stories and engagement.

Partnership Marketing is particularly potent and relevant right now:

We need to adapt – in a time when our worlds have been turned upside down and the ‘new normal’ seems to change every week, it is key to adapt marketing strategies to reach an audience in new ways.

Valued voices – in times of high uncertainty, we listen to and seek out those we trust more than ever. Building trust with audiences through trying times is key to maintaining customers, gaining loyalty and instigating behaviour change. Working with the right partners helps to achieve this.

New spaces – with audiences exposed to far less out of home marketing, partnership marketing can access areas that continue to be utilised – supermarket car parks, streets, bin lorry wraps and takeaway coffee cups, being some of the many non-traditional opportunities.

Smaller budgets – Partnership Marketing can deliver significant ROI and reach with small budgets.

Union Connect Partnership Marketing specialists

At Union Connect we specialise in creating and implementing a range of Partnership Marketing strategies. We have delivered successful partnership campaigns for clients including; The Scottish Government, Cycling Scotland, Zero Waste Scotland, McEwans, Scottish Widows, Road Safety Scotland, Children’s Hearing Scotland and Food Standards Scotland to name only a few.

Our experience, expertise and contact networks allow us to reach audiences by firstly identifying key strategic partners. Then working with them to create, develop and provide tailored communications and assets for partners to share with their audience.

To discuss how we could create and implement a partnership marketing strategy for you drop us a line and we can grab a virtual coffee.

Email Union Connect Account Director Keri:

Read on for some inspiring examples of Partnership Marketing in Action, including some of our own work.

GoPro & Red Bull

GoPro and Red Bull have both established and placed themselves as action, adventurous and often extreme lifestyle brands. Their ongoing partnership work is based upon Red Bull sponsoring key adventure/sporting events and GoPro equipping the athletes/participants with equipment to capture the live action. This partnership generates awe inspiring content that reinforces both companies positing and offering to consumers. Most famously the brands partnered to support Australian skydiving legend Felix Baumgartner in his record-breaking jump from a balloon 24 miles above earth here watch the nail-biting video here – all captured by his GoPro!









Smoking Cessation & Scottish Football League

For the Scottish Government Smoking Cessation campaign, Union Connect, partnered with Scottish Premier League Football Clubs to target the public in situations where they often ‘light up’. LED pitch side advertising was used, alongside 6-sheets throughout stadiums, posters and vinyls in toilets, messaging in match day programmes, e-communication and bespoke social media messaging all shared directly from the clubs promoting the personalised support available in Scotland to help those who wanted to give up smoking.








Cadburys and Age UK

‘Donating From Words’ saw Cadbury launch a limited edition bar, whereby 30p from every chocolate went to Age UK, to help them provide vital services and support for older people. This activity was supported by a social campaign where people were encouraged to ‘donate their words’ too by taking small, every day actions that made a difference, such as saying hello to their elderly neighbour, or volunteering to help the elderly in their community. The sweet campaign generated genuine content while making a positive impact.







Budweiser & Lyft

Budweiser partnered with US taxi provider, Lyft, as part of an anti-drink driving campaign. Targeting those out and about in the evening, the campaign encouraged Budweiser customers to get a taxi home if they had been drinking. With over 150,000 free rides given out across nine US cities, Lyft was able to establish relationships with a huge new customer base. While Budweiser was able to cement its reputation as a brand ‘that cares’, driving behaviour change and proactively supporting drink awareness.









Road Safety Scotland & Music Festivals

Road Safety Scotland tasked Union Connect with improving the driving habits amongst young males aged 20 to 29 to reduce road accidents in Scotland. We partnered with music festivals frequented by young men across Scotland to set up a pop-up go-kart course, created on the premise of a simple truth – you drive better when Gran is in the car. ‘Grans’ therefore hosted our immersive experiential activity and our ultimate road safety test. The successful partnership genuinely drove home the core campaign messaging and resulted in over 9,000 young men participating in the activity.