Heinz x Absolut and 8 more unexpected brand collaborations

“They did what with what?”

Sometimes rivalling brands put down their competitive swords and choose to collaborate. Whether it be food and drinks brands, celebrities, fashion houses, charities or even TV and movie franchises, marketing campaigns can often be forged with the aim of benefitting both parties.

Some collaborations intrigue and excite consumers, resulting in a spike in brand awareness and product purchase. Others, however, can cause a widespread backlash, whether the brands intended this outcome or not.

Inspired by today’s pairing of Heinz tomato pasta sauce with Absolut Vodka, here are nine of some of the most interesting brand collaborations and licensing deals around.

Heinz x Absolut Vodka

Heinz recently joined forces with Absolut Vodka to gift the nation with their own take on vodka pasta – in jar form.

The brands took inspiration from supermodel Gigi Hadid’s spicy vodka pasta recipe which went viral in 2020.

The food brand claims that “the vodka is the magic that unlocks the flavours and intensifies the aroma of this rich and creamy tomato, basil and cheese sauce”.

Heinz director of new ventures, Caio Fontenele, added: “The iconic combination of Heinz’s high-quality tomato sauces and Absolut’s premium vodka is set to offer fans the ultimate pasta alla vodka experience. And the result is absolutely delicious!”

heinz absolut brand collaboration

Walkers x Marmite

Love it or hate it, Walkers announced the return of its Marmite flavoured crisps in 2015 after an almost decade-and-a-half hiatus. Eight years later and the collaboration is still going strong.

Unsurprisingly, the public has been split ever since the release of the crisps. On Twitter, however, the collaboration has largely been praised over the years.

“Marmite Walkers are the BEST flavour crisps,” one person wrote (@JamesLowe223).

Another member of the public (@VProtheroe) wrote: “I’m prepared to die on the hill of Marmite Walkers. Don’t fight me on this.”

walkers marmite brand collaboration

McDonald’s x Burger King

In November 2017, arguably the two brands with the biggest rivalry in the world came together to raise money for childhood cancer.

The Argentina-based campaign saw all Big Mac sales donated to help children with cancer, with Burger King halting Whopper sales for a day to help the McDonald’s burger soar in popularity.

Dubbed ‘A Day Without Whopper’, people who ordered the burger from one of Burger King’s 107 restaurants were ‘politely’ asked to go to the nearest McDonald’s instead.

As a result of the campaign – which received 206 million impressions – McDonald’s sold 73,437 more burgers.

Clarin called the initiative “a truce in the eternal war of burgers”.

burger kind mcdonald's brand collaboration

Tiffany x Nike

Tiffany & Co.’s recent collaboration with Nike was slammed online by social media users from across the globe.

In February, the LVMH-owned jewellery brand announced that it had collaborated with the sports brand giant, releasing an exclusive black Air Force 1 trainer set with a Tiffany blue tick.

A series of Tiffany social marketing activations dubbed the launch as a “legendary” pairing, although the look of the heavy black sneaker received negative traction on several social media platforms.

One Twitter user criticised the “legendary” claim, writing: “The only thing legendary about these shoes is how boring they are.”

tiffany nike brand collaboration

Louis Vitton x Harrods x Yayoi Kusama

In January, Louis Vuitton celebrated a collaboration with Yayoi Kusama by projecting the world-renowned artist’s polka dot designs onto the façade of Harrods.

In a Harrods first, a total of 27 windows were devoted to the collection, running along Brompton Road and Hans Crescent. A ‘monumental’ 15 metre high life-like statue of Yayoi Kusama was also unveiled outside the Hans Crescent façade, painting dots onto the Harrods’ exterior.

“We needed to create the wow factor in a totally new way for the London luxury scene, harnessing Harrod’s shop front as the key media space,” Publicis Media Luxe managing partner, Anne-Marie Hammond, said.

harrods louis vuitton brand collaboration

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La Vie x Burger King

Burger King bolstered its plant-based offering back in December by announcing a new partnership with plant-based bacon brand La Vie.

To raise public awareness of the partnership’s formation, La Vie launched a tongue-in-cheek out-of-home campaign to poke fun at Burger King’s longtime rival McDonald’s for missing out on the partnership.

The French brand’s UK partnership with Burger King UK forms part of a deal which supports the brand’s ongoing efforts to become 50% plant-based by 2030 in the UK.

“This will allow us to accelerate the pace of switching from animal-based meat to plant-based, which is a climate emergency we are all facing,” La Vie chief marketing officer, Romain Jolivet said.

la vie burger king brand collaboration

Nottingham Forest FC x UK for UNHCR

In December of last year, Nottingham Forest FC entered an international charity partnership with UK for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in a bid to support relief efforts for people fleeing persecution and conflict around the world.

The club made financial donations to support relief efforts around the globe and also pledged to use all its available commercial and marketing channels to drive awareness of UNHCR’s humanitarian work.

Nottingham Forest FC joins the likes of FC Barcelona in supporting UNHCR this season.

nottingham forest fc uk for unhcr

Müller x Declan Rice

Rice, Rice, baby! Last November, Müller Yogurts & Desserts unveiled a multi-million pound Müller Rice campaign, enlisting Declan Rice as its official brand ambassador.

The partnership marked the first ad campaign for Müller Rice in five years and rolled out across radio, social media and out-of-home (OOH) platforms.

The England and West Ham United star partnered with the food brand to re-work the iconic 90’s Vanilla Ice song ‘Ice Ice Baby’. Since his professional debut in 2017, Hammers fans have been singing the ‘Rice, Rice Baby’ remix in celebration of Rice’s best performances for the football club.

muller declan rice brand collaboration

Elf x Asda

In the lead up to Christmas last year, Asda released its showstopping Christmas 2022 ad campaign which saw Buddy the Elf become a Christmas temp for an unsuspecting local store.

Thanks to a unique brand licensing deal and state-of-the-art VFX, Will Ferrell’s iconic festive character was able to star in the commercial, which showed him singing into the store’s tannoy system and distracting colleagues with his Christmas plans.

According to global marketing research company System1, the supermarket’s advert has hit the ‘millennial nostalgia sweet spot’ right on the head, garnering a ‘hugely positive’ audience response.

Asda senior director of brand communications, Stephi Brett-Lee, told Marketing Beat: “The idea felt right to us from the beginning, it was a perfect match. Elf is Britain’s most-loved Christmas film, and the character of Buddy so iconic. Plus, so many of Buddy’s lines – ‘I’m in a store and I’m singing!’ – fit so perfectly with what we wanted to do there was no need to change a thing. And he’s in Asda colours already!”

elf asda brand collaboration

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