30 March 2018 Weekly

Brand partnerships: The brilliant, beautiful and bizarre

Brand partnerships – Podcast collaborations – Pizza 'mash-ups' – Serviced apartments – Vegan room service

‘Peak collab’ or business as usual?

This week, Louis Vuitton made a big announcement. After years of buddying up with brands and artists, forming partnerships and limited edition collections with the likes of Supreme and Fragment Design, it decided to bring the hype in-house. Virgil Abloh, founder of streetwear label Off White, has been named Louis Vuitton’s new menswear designer.

Does this mean Louis Vuitton is pulling the plug on any future high-profile partnerships? That remains to be seen, but for young businesses, the appeal of collaborative working doesn’t seem to have reached its limit. From the weird – WeWork and J.Crew – to the wonderful – We Transfer’s podcast partnerships – businesses seem to have a never-ending desire to cosy up with one another. In this Courier Weekly special, we explore what brands can gain from working together.

We Transfer’s podcast pals.

File transfer company We Transfer has built a brilliant brand around something that is, on the surface, fairly boring. Since early days, it’s worked with creatives to create beautiful backdrops for entertaining users while they wait for files to upload.

More recently, the platform has launched a number of original podcasts with other brands to add to its cultural cachet, covering everything from the psychology of DJing to, most recently, a series on photography in collaboration with New York’s International Center of Photography.

As magazine makers ourselves, we’ve enjoyed digging in to this seriesin partnership with MagCulture about how stories are told in print.

Foodie mashups: Yard Sale Pizza x everyone.

Haggis pizza, Mexican al pastor pizza, jerk chicken pizza, Nagaland lamb pizza: you name it, Yard Sale’s tried it. Since launching in 2014, the east London neighbourhood pizzeria has made a habit of partnering with independent restaurants on limited edition Frankenpizzas. Co-founder Dan Spinney says collaborations are ‘where the magic happens’.

They’re also a convenient way to lure in customers, entertain the foodie press and boost sales by associating with cult brands such as burger restaurant Patty & Bun and legendary’ New York pizza maker Anthony Falco. Yard Sale tends to drill-up press buzz around collaborations and pay partners for any ingredients they prep. It’s currently working on a sandwich pizza with cult sarnie-maker Max’s Sandwich Shop.

Sleep on it: Simba pairs with serviced apartment provider Cuckooz. 

In the hotly contested sector of direct-to-consumer mattress firms, Simba reckons it can pick up new customers by letting them try before they buy.

Since February, it’s decked out serviced apartments managed by Cuckooz (whose clients include Google, Amazon and Transferwise) with free mattresses. Cuckooz has five sites across London, and is preparing to open two more locations. Simba mattresses will appear in all the rooms.

The idea is that once guests have a good night’s sleep in a Cuckooz room, they’ll want to replicate the experience at home. Cuckooz co-founder Charlie Rosier says, ‘For [Simba], more people get to try mattresses – and anyone who stays at Cuckooz gets £75 off a Simba mattress.’

Room service ready meals from Bol.

One of the most left-field partnerships on our radar comes from London boutique hotel St Giles and (recently-turned) vegan ready meal company Bol.

As of February, guests at St Giles can order room service for the first time – and receive a heated bowl of Bol. The hotel says the partnership came about after it noticed an uptick in wellness-focused requests from guests, including gym passes, cycle routes and vegan restaurant recommendations. It’s stirred press conversation around both companies’ social consciences.

Bol, which is stocked in major UK supermarkets, was founded by Paul Brown, who first trialled the idea as an employee at Innocent Smoothies. When Innocent folded their veg pot range in 2015, Brown set up his own company to fill the gap for healthier ready meals.