Ever see a product’s advertising that infuses another brand and think, “that makes so much sense”? Things like Taco Bell and Doritos, BMW & Louis Vuitton, Apple Pay & Master Card, Boulevard Beer & Tech N9ne, wait…what?? Craft beer and hip-hop? Oh…that’s right, I forgot to mention co-branding doesn’t have to make total sense on the surface. Sure it doesn’t hurt to mesh Yum brands with bold delicious snacks or high end luxury with glam products, but if you eat Taco Bell you probably already eat Doritos and if you can afford a BMW likewise you know about or purchase Louis Vuitton luggage. However, it’s the outside the box brand collaborations that gain exposure to markets that previously might not have been available.
For the content purpose of this blog I’m going to use the combo mentioned previously, Boulevard Beer & Tech N9ne (mostly true accounts from a speaking event hosted by KCDMA featuring Pat Mullin of Boulevard). Now I understand that some people reading this will not know one, if not either of these brands, so I’ll provide a very brief background. If you do know both brands then you may skip ahead to the fourth paragraph, smarty-pants.
Founded in 1988, Boulevard Brewing Co. began in Kansas City. Looking to craft bigger more aromatic beers they began with just a half-barrel of their staple Pale Ale brew. Growing in popularity over the years Boulevard’s beers have made it the premier craft brewery in the mid-west and is currently the 12th largest craft brewer in the United States. Tech N9ne, a proud Kansas City native began his rap career early on in life, he’s also a singer, songwriter, producer, actor and entrepreneur. In 1999 he co-founded his own record label Strange Music. He’s recorded over 20 studio albums, sold more than 2 million records and sells out dozens of concerts every year.
Now that you’re “in the know” lets get to the point of these keystrokes. In business you should always be looking for what’s next, you sit still, you go flat like the tires on that bike in your garage you haven’t ridden in 3 years. Through some brainstorming, Boulevard identified an opportunity, a collaboration between two markets with limited usage. Craft beer and hip-hop were virtually untapped territory, and with both Tech N9ne and Boulevard’s strong KC roots an approach to co-brand made sense. Fast Forward.. Bou Lou was born.
Bou Lou is a craft brew product that starts with wheat beer that is accented with pineapple juice and coconut, a play off of Tech N9ne’s hit song Caribou Lou that is about a delicious party mix of 151 rum, pineapple and Malibu. Once the final product was perfected and signed off on the marketing began.
First, careful development of a very specific digital content plan, they then collaborated on content development. Next up, social, social, social (media that is), they told an on-going story, first with a short teaser, followed by others, generating thousands of views and likes priming excitement around what this new collaboration between these two Kansas City titans would bring. The collaboration between both brands coupled with a strategic marketing plan received more engagement than any other social marketing campaign Boulevard had ever done in their history. Once Bou Lou was made available to the public stores were selling out in minutes to a couple hours. Oh, and if you attended a Tech N9ne concert, you had better made your first goal getting in line for a cold Bou Lou cause they often sold out before he took the stage. The success of this endeavor makes a Bou Lou 2019 re-boot a no-brainer.
While Boulevard and Tech N9ne build upon their brand collaboration, other companies looking for the next evolution in their business should consider co-branding with markets outside their sandbox. There may not be a direct correlation that blazes “COHESION” like a bright neon sign on a lonely dark highway to ordinary business practices. However, done right like this pairing, will raise awareness and revenues outside current markets for both brands; which is the common goal of every co-branded marriage.