Successful Local Brand and Artist Partnerships

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Words by Sanele Mawisa

Marketing as a method to effect sales has been around since time immemorial. In Economics you learn about demand and supply and the value chain. The last decade has seen the meteoric rise of two forms of marketing – digital marketing and influencer marketing. Utilizing the two in conjunction has been effective for some brands and not so effective for others.

In South Africa we are still in the infancy stage of understanding how this space works and how to tap into consumer insights which lead to successful campaigns or brand alignments. Globally a few colabs that have worked include Rick Ross and Belaire, P Diddy and Ciroc, Adidas and Pharrell, Rihanna and Puma just to name a few. The key to these partnerships has been the power of true collaboration. Just being a face of a brand is not enough to ensure credibility. Providing equity options has shown to be beneficial for all concerned and SA needs to follow suit.

At the moment we are still navigating around global best practices and attempting to develop this tricky form of marketing. The trend at the moment is centered around alcohol brands. This is due to ease of accessibility to their target markets and less red tape being locally run brands. It is all still a learning process but for now, here are a few brand and artist colabs which have done well.

AKA and Cruz Vodka

This partnership has grown from strength to strength and to date is one of the few equity based alcohol partnerships in South Africa (Emtee has a similar deal with AU Vodka), with the artist getting a slice of the Cruz cake with every purchase. His custom made Cruz Watermelon sold out within 2 months of being on the shelves and the support for the product was huge on social media.

Khuli Chana and Absolut Vodka

This relationship has been going strong for the last 5 years, with the brand making a big investment in the Motswako Originator. He has headlined brand events, developed musical collaborations through the brand and created a track which embodies the essence of the brand: One Source. The One Source campaign spearheaded by Absolut holding company Pernod Ricard and their agency Native VML won a Cannes Grand Prix as well as a Gold Loerie, highlighting the effectiveness and power of the collaboration.

Nasty C and Puma

The hottest kid on the block and a brand trying to break new boundaries is the perfect match. They’re both edgy, trying to innovate and have a playful essence. It just makes sense. This relationship has the potential to blow up, particularly with the artist’s reach into American territory from his last tour. He will be on the global brand radar soon enough.

Da L.E.S and CIROC

This combo worked really well and had the potential to be more long-lasting, however that does not align with the brand’s model of refreshing their colabs on an almost yearly basis. The North Gawd gives off Diddy vibes in relation to lifestyle and the nightlife scene so again the alignment was pure and believable.

Nadia Nakai and Castle Lite

This burgeoning relationship started to pick up steam when she was one of the local headliners for the last Castle Lite Unlocks featuring Chance The Rapper. She then collaborated with Frank Casino to make the track Money Calling which punts the new 910ml resealable pack and recently she is one of the headline acts for the HipHopHerStory concert featuring Young MA. She has been at the forefront of the cultural shift of the brand to focus on the women in the game and their impact.

Nomuzi and Steve Madden

As the official ambassador for the fashion brand, Nomuzi’s style and elegance match the values and vision of the brand and the colab has seen doors open for other artists with Ms Cosmo recently partnering with them to release her own shoes.

Riky Rick and Vaseline

Self-care and grooming are cornerstones of the Riky Rick brand and in that sense makes this one a no-brainer. Using the brand message of #StartStrong is one of motivation to achieve ones dreams, which is a topic he centers his brand around. Part of the deal is the release of his own Vaseline product, which highlights the brands commitment to the partnership and its longevity.

Black Coffee and Axe

A common goal and vision is shared in this colab. Centred around finding your magic, through showcasing Africa’s top house talents on an international stage in Ibiza. This grew into the launch of a limited edition Axe can with Black Coffee’s face on it and the hosting of the Axe Party of the Year. The music industry in SA has received a shot in the arm with this initiative as the focus is on exporting our incredible talent rather than importing.

Black Motion and Ballantines

A truly organic and relatable colab based on staying true. A wide ranging partnership which saw a campaign featuring TV ads, radio, print and online. A key element was bringing the global Boiler Room events to SA, with Black Motion headlining and playing overseas. The Beat of Africa campaign was the highlight as sounds were sourced from 5 African countries to find the true sounds of Africa. This culminated in the creation of the Beat of Africa album. Putting Africa at the forefront of musical ingenuity and uniqueness is how the brand stayed true to his vision.

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