Collaboration creates opportunities. For creatives like us, it symbolises a step into the unknown: when clever minds from different fields of expertise put their heads together, it opens up a world of unexpected and compelling ways to make brands, spaces and products stand out.
From a marketing perspective, brand awareness and growth potential are the goals. Positioning a brand alongside a complementary one from a different sector can help brands mutually pinpoint or improve their positioning through association. Equally, it creates the opportunity to increase or revitalise product ranges, pursue untapped markets, and access new knowledge and expertise.
Here’s a glimpse at some our favourite creative collaborations past and present.
1. VOLKSWAGEN’S PROJECT FOX
Volkswagen celebrated the European launch of the VW Fox with the opening of Hotel Fox in Copenhagen, a sixty-one room hotel in the heart of a renowned style city. They invited ‘Project Fox’, an international collective of street artists, graphic designers and illustrators, to each design one room with a uniquely inspirational and impactful personality.
The VW/Hotel Fox launch was a month long event exploring art, culture and gastronomy, with exhibitions, concerts, and chefs from all over Europe creating an experimental menu for guests. The participants from all over the world ensured an international audience and far-reaching word-of mouth, as well as instantly aligning the compact city car with youth, talent, urban cool and contemporary culture.
Ten years later, the hotel style has moved on, but it remains an inspiration - it was described as one of the most successful press events in the history of Volkswagen, generating more than a billion new contacts, and is still a much-referenced case study of successful collaborative marketing campaigns.
All images via Hotel Fox website.
2. SAN PELLEGRINO’S ‘ITALIAN TALENT’
Italy has it nailed, doesn't it? Style just exudes from their general vicinity and clever brands do well to celebrate it. So mineral water giant San Pellegrino’s collaborative series ‘Italian Talent’, where their traditional labels were replaced with a Limited Edition design by their chosen Italian partner, was a clever and captivating campaign, allying their long-standing quality with their country’s high-end designers.
‘Italian Talent’ launched with legendary fashion house Missoni who created a label with a signature Missoni pattern in blues and greys inspired by the cool mineral water. The last partnership was with Bulgari, who created a label design featuring diamonds, emeralds, amethysts and turquoises on a 60s necklace design. Entitled ‘San Pellegrino Sparkles with Bulgari’, it marked Bulgari’s 125th anniversary.
A clever approach indeed. Fashion, jewellery, music, art and numerous other disciplines could be drawn upon for any number of designs, making this collaborative series unlimited in its potential. ‘Limited Edition’ provides an air of exclusivity, but the stories can be enjoyed by all. Reference to as yet unspecified ‘special events’ meant it could take its time handpicking the most suitable partner and timing. An elegant and long-lasting campaign. We wouldn't know who’d be next, but we'd know it would be good, and that’s the whole point.
3. THE EXCHANGE HOTEL, AMSTERDAM
Still a very current example of community collaboration, The Exchange Hotel embraced the fashion-led regeneration of Amsterdam’s city centre by inviting students from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute to literally ‘dress’ the rooms within.
The students designed their fabrics with guidance from Dutch Studio INA & MATT and the Dutch Textile Museum before creating extraordinary and striking spaces fusing fashion and architecture into the hospitality experience, reflecting the progressively creative and bohemian vibe taking root in the surrounding streets.
Continuing to promote the living, breathing community – with a nod to the now timeless trend for crowdsourcing - each room contains a sewing machine where guests can add their own expertise. An excellent example of an ever-changing and engaging environment - endless creativity, interest and stories guaranteed.
Why do we like these collaborations in particular?
Each of these examples showcases a project without limits; an evolutionary approach which builds a foundation for future change. The rooms in Hotel Fox would undoubtedly have needed a revamp from time to time - yet they would never be old if they keep the project and brand story alive by calling in new talent as required. San Pellegrino’s angle ensures it could tap into the richness of its country’s history - already deeply associated with quality and refinement - anytime and anyhow, all wrapped up in an ever-contemporary campaign effortlessly building its own momentum in its own time. The Exchange was bang on-trend with its sewing machine in every room, allowing the guest to add his or her own contribution to the city’s vibrant journey and talking about it endlessly as a result. Building a community - professional or consumer - is key to the longevity of such campaigns.
But what stands out most of all is the recognition that no brand is an island. Collaboration is a bit like splitting the atom; just when you think you’ve reached the limit of your potential, you break it up into different parts and a powerful new energy is unleashed. The result? You create something far greater than you ever imagined.