The Marks & Spencer Oxfam tie up is apparently the most admired partnership in the UK.I find this hard to believe until I read who the survey was done by.
The agency concerned who gave us this conclusion surveyed corporate responsibility professionals from more than 150 leading companies and NGOs in the UK. So clearly they were never going to say Coke and itunes or Apple and Nike or Dell and intel or BA and Citibabnk or Persil and Whirlpool or Transformers and GM or Philips and Dowe Egberts, Gillette and Duracell, Visit Britain and film……
Although there is definitely a place for charities/NGO’s to partner with brands, they still only have one goal in mind, commercial profits. Partnerships between corporate and charity organisations are becoming more important and strategic in nature as companies come under pressure to demonstrate sustainable and ethical business practices no matter what the actual truth is. Perception is everything especially when it comes to green and charity issues and positive brand association with a brand much greener and more into feeding children in Africa clearly has a positive effect on the coprorate brand if the partnership is done well.
The report found that the majority of businesses (88%) and NGOs (93%) believe that partnerships are becoming more important to their organisations and more than three quarters (78%) plan to increase their investment in the area in the next three years. Which is great news for companies like mine, Partnership Marketing, who do nothing but create brand partnerships in Asia.
The report says that M&S and Oxfam’s partnership “sets the benchmark to which other organisations aspire” and delivers the “corporate mission” for both parties through effective communication. The question I would have is to did it actually achieve all of it’s objectives or did it just make the M&S board feel better about themselves? They are both certainly aimed at an older, middle England audience and comfortable slipper wearers.
Procter & Gamble’s Pampers brand’s partnership with Unicef and Sainsbury’s Comic Relief tie up were also recognised for their “ambition, scale, and ability to innovate and communicate”. Both have been fantastic commercial successes as well as creating greater awareness and driving charitable donations and to me are more imaginative and wider reaching partnerships, especially the Comic Relief one.
The bigger question here is if it works for charities and big brands then why aren’t more people doing it between big brands and other big brands and why are so many senior marketing people still so ignorant about the benefits of it? A partnership, if done well, can achieve all a brand’s marketing objectives not just its CSR/green ones.