Those who are already familiar with TACK10 and the way we work with clients know that at the focal point of our work is strategic partnerships. That is, leveraging a brand’s assets in order to create a strategic relationship with another brand, where both entities provide value to one another and most importantly, to the end user that they share.

As we’ve written in the past, this differs from traditional sponsorships which are formed around the simple exchange of value. With a strategic partnership, both brands work together and borrow from each other as a way to build and elevate value for their respective brands, typically by focusing on enhancing the customer experience. While many brands are still working within the traditional sponsorship space, there are a number of brands involved in excellent strategic partnerships out there. Let’s take a look at Budweiser as a high-level example.

In April, Budweiser announced its partnership with four American country music festivals; Stagecoach Festival, Country 500, CMA Music Festival, and Faster Horses. What the beer brand did with these summer festivals was more than just paying for a Budweiser banner across a stage – they created an entire three-story structure called the Budweiser Country Club that would travel with them to each of the four festivals and act as a brand activation within.

The Budweiser Country Club acted as an elevated viewing area for each concert, an outdoor games area, a shop featuring products from local craftsmen, and of course two Budweiser-serving bars. What does this do for the festival-goers? It adds value to their experience by providing them with things that relieve pain points like poor views of the stage or a lack of shading. What does this do for Budweiser? It brings people in and makes them experience the brand first hand, whether they’ve always been a Budweiser fan or are tasting it for the first time.

Perhaps most importantly, in terms of value to a partner, what does this mean for each festival? It shows their guests that the festival understands their needs and has created something interesting and valuable for them to enjoy, thereby attracting a greater audience. Perhaps a group of friends who attended the event in previous years were hesitant to return because they never got a good view of their favourite band. Hearing of a three-story structure with a viewing deck and exclusive bars might just bring them back.

Had Budweiser simply exchanged a sponsorship fee for the opportunity to have their name linked to each festival, none of the players in this example would have gained the value they did from the Budweiser Country Club activation. That’s what’s important to remember when pushing an organization to move beyond their commoditized assets to move from sponsorship to strategic partnership, and it’s what makes this example one of our favourites.