What an incredible year it has been in terms of business development news. 2016 saw a number of strategic partnerships formed between some of the best brands across multiple industries. From Amazon to Bentley; from UNICEF to McDonald’s. Here are the partnerships that made our Top 10 list in 2016.
1. Microsoft and Lowe’s
One may not associate Lowe’s with virtual reality… unless one is talking about the Canadian home improvement chain’s partnership with Microsoft, of course. Lowe’s and Microsoft paired up this year, along with HoloLens, to provide customers the ability to design their home renovations with holograms seen through virtual reality goggles. This partnership helps solve a problem many homeowners face – not knowing how their plans will look once actually completed in their own space. It also frames Lowe’s as a tech-literate and trendy brand.
2. Filld and Bentley
Filld, the disruptive app that provides users with access to a travelling gas “station” that comes to their car’s location to fill up, partnered this year with Bentley for a more automatic experience. Instead of drivers manually using the app to notify Filld technicians when their tank is empty, participating Bentley vehicles automatically send a signal to the Filld app when they reach less than a quarter tank of gas, and the technician arrives to an automatically-opened gas flap. Busy drivers can forget about running out of gas at the last minute, and Filld, still young, gets to enter the market with the reputation of a luxury service.
3. NFL and Amazon
Amazon Video and NFL Films partnered in 2016 to create a new series called “All or Nothing,” following NFL teams over the course of a season. This partnership is interesting because of the unique nature of the relationship. By engaging with a partner to create an entertainment property, both Amazon and the NFL gain a new revenue channel, and Amazon gains the fan interest that comes with the exclusivity in streaming the show.
4. eBay and Oprah Winfrey
This past spring, fans of Oprah Winfrey got to experience her talk show all over again, as she placed outfits worn during show tapings onto eBay for auction, with all proceeds going to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. This was much more than your typical eBay auction; because of Oprah’s status and the timing of the auction alongside the “declutter” issue of her O Magazine, eBay truly was a partner in the sale, acting as the exclusive platform for the coveted items.
5. UNICEF and Target
Near the end of 2015, UNICEF created their Kid Power Band, a wearable fitness tracker with a twist. The Kid Power Band, worn by children, is the first “Wearable for Good” product, where kids earn points for all of the physical activity they participate in while wearing the band, and can then trade in those points to purchase food packets to be provided for malnourished children around the world. Target partnered with UNICEF on this initiative, acting as the exclusive retailer for the Kids Power Band.
6. Uber and Betterment
Oftentimes we think of partnerships as outlets to create value for customers, but creating value internally can be just as important. Recognizing this, Uber has partnered with Betterment, a virtual investment manager or “robo-advisor,” to help its drivers plan for retirement. Through the partnership, Uber drivers gain access to the service without fees for the first year. Betterment gains value through committed drivers who stay with the service past their free year, and Uber receives recognition as a company providing positive services to its contractors.
7. Shutterstock and Optimizely/Sprinklr
Optimizely, a customer experience optimization platform, and Sprinklr, a social media management system, both partnered with Shutterstock this year to provide their users with seamless integration into Shutterstock’s database of more than 70 million photos and 3 million videos. Doing so allowed both Optimizely and Sprinklr users to easily license Shutterstock visuals for their own work without ever leaving the original platform. Marketers who wouldn’t normally visit Shutterstock for any given reason can now be handed its resources directly while creating their content.
8. American Apparel and Postmates
Online and on-demand delivery service Postmates partnered with American Apparel this year. The first in-app clothing partner for the service, American Apparel became instantly available to its customers through Postmates’ one-hour delivery system. Both brands opened themselves up for new customers through this partnership, with existing Postmates users being given American Apparel as an option through the service, and existing American Apparel customers benefitting from a new way to purchase their favourite items.
9. Niantic and McDonald’s
When Niantic’s augmented reality game Pokémon Go launched this summer, it launched to over 100 million downloads worldwide within its first month. McDonald’s capitalized on this by become the game’s first partner, paying to place PokéStops in its restaurants across Japan. This not only resulted in revenue for Niantic, but in an obvious increase in foot traffic for McDonald’s. Niantic has made a number of updates to the game since its July launch, including the addition of partners such as Starbucks and Sprint.
10. Special Mention: KitchenAid and Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
Though KitchenAid has been a sponsor and partner of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) for over 14 years, the evolution of their partnership is worth mentioning on our 2016 list. Previous years of the partnership saw traditional fundraisers and event sponsorship, but just this year, KitchenAid and CBCF paired up to create a new social media campaign called “Show Us Your Foods,” encouraging users to upload photos of their meal creations, make a donation, and nominate a friend to do the same.
Take another look at this list and notice the differences between each of these great strategic partnerships. A partner can do many things – provide broadcasting rights, co-create a brand new property, facilitate internal processes, and so much more. The possibilities are endless with a bit of creativity and the willingness to work at the relationship. Think of the ways in which you can engage with partners in 2017; maybe your brand will be on next year’s list.