The Wildest Marketing Collaborations and the Power of “Huh?”

wildest marketing collaborations

So, this morning I was scrolling through Instagram Reels, which regularly sends me influencers upgrading their home, because that’s my thing, when I saw a girl painting her kitchen a bright, scarlet red. But there was something about this red. It was so specific. So, me thinking I was just an observational comedy genius commented, “That’s gorgeous but it looks like Heinz tomato ketchup. It’s making me want a chippy so bad.”

Then I took a look at the tin. Needless to say, I deleted my comment because the logo made it clear that was exactly the point. There, under trendy DIY brand “Lick” was the Heinz logo.

It’s too genius not to share, but we think we can dig up some more marketing collaborations that make you rethink your marketing strategy. What is Lick or Heinz getting out of this? And should maybe more of us consider a wild marketing collaboration that to the outsider comes entirely out of left field?

Lick x Heinz

The thing that kicked it all off: Lick x Heinz. It’s an odd collaboration due to, let’s face it, snobbery. These interior design magazines and the interior design trends within them usually have themes of sophistication, glamour, comfort, style, etc. and are decidedly highbrow.

Heinz ketchup is the sauce you put on everything whether it goes or not. It goes with chicken nuggets and chips. Not something a Michelin-star restaurant would have just sitting at the table. Low brow.

The genius in this collaboration is that the shade of Heinz ketchup… kind of looks amazing on the walls. It fits the rich moody jewel tones sitting alongside trends like navy blue and forest greens that are transforming bland white homes right now – and no one can deny it’s bold. If you’re looking for it, it’s called Red HTK 57.

Clinique x Crayola

This is a collaboration that you can definitely say did its job considering Crayola has left Clinique behind and since started Crayola Beauty with ASOS: an entire range of make-up based on “kids” stationery. It all started with one collaboration in 2017.

Perhaps just testing the water, Clinique released a line of brightly coloured lipsticks, or chunky lip pencils, that looked like crayons, complete with the Crayola branding and squiggle at the bottom.

Today, that’s expanded into click-up pens for your lips and eyeliner, fragrance paintbrushes, and foundations and palettes that come in delightfully bright and funky colours for the beauty influencer or cosplayer who likes the rainbow colour palette.

What’s the target demographic? Artistic kids and adults painting on a face rather than a scrapbook? It might actually be genius.

Van Leeuwen ice cream x Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese

Have you ever wanted to taste mac ‘n’ cheese-flavoured ice cream? Yeah, us neither. In a move that only the Boss Baby could come up with, ice cream makers Van Leeuwen partnered up with famed macaroni and cheese connoisseurs, Kraft, to create a concoction that only a hungover university student would reach for.

Initially, this was made in 2021 but returned for 2022 and there have been a lot of copycat recipes gracing the internet since.

What’s the demographic? Well, these are two items typically targeted at children. Maybe there was a morsel of thought that went into it.

Primark x Greggs

If you’re not from the UK, you might be shocked at the cultural effect Greggs really has. It’s our McDonalds, in that there’s usually one on every street corner. It’s part of our humour, it has its own reputation as the only food establishment to hire near-retirement women, it’s what you just need when it’s been a tough day or about to be a tough day…

And as yet, this cultural impact has been largely ignored. Enter Primark.

Primark dove right into their collaboration. It’s not like they started with socks and thought “Someone might see the humour in this”. They released t-shirts, hoodies, joggies, socks, bum bags, and just about anything else you can think of in primary blue with the iconic yellow logo on it like it was akin to Supreme.

The most shocking part: people are actually wearing them. Yes, I mean at this very moment if I was to step out into the high street, I’d probably see a Greggs hoodie pass me by.

What’s the demographic? Anyone with any irony. And Brits. This has to be the most quintessentially British thing I’ve ever heard of behind red telephone boxes.

What are the benefits of these marketing collaborations?

So, what are these brands really getting out of their whacky marketing collaborations? Well, we have a few ideas.

  • Swapping diametrically opposed demographics

Sure, you might lose some people. Even if you love Kraft mac n cheese you might not fancy eating it in ice cream form, but the basic idea of marketing collaborations is about sharing your audience. Kraft fans might decide they fancy some tub of ice cream tonight, even if it’s not the Kraft flavour. In my case, I took a closer look at the Lick website and saw they have a great range. If nothing else, a collaboration like this is eye-catching and might make you look more into either brand.

  • The power of irony

Never underestimate the power of a good joke. Even if it doesn’t make you laugh out loud, it might be good enough to spend money on. The Primark x Greggs collaboration proved that a lot of people are willing to pay to be a walking punchline.

  • A talking point

What are all marketers looking for? Exposure, which means you have to get people to love your product enough to talk about it. A surefire way to do that is to come up with the craziest product you can think of, and if that’s Crayola make-up lines or Greggs’ themed streetwear, then that’s what it has to be.

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