Collaborations as a Reflection of Culture

As fellow trend watching innovators would likely agree, once a trend is sparked, not much fanning is needed for the flame to spread. I started this newsletter to capture trends that excite me AND can help you think differently about growing your business.

Each month I’ll dive into 3 examples of a trend, based on my own humble opinion:

 1)   Spot On– An example of the trend I think is “sticky” and well executed

2)   Missed the Mark – A well-intended, but poorly executed example of the trend

3)   What the… An example I can’t quite relate to or don’t see gaining traction

This month, we’ll dive into a practice that’s been steadily growing in the CPG world—brand x influencer limited-edition collaborations. It’s been a mainstay in fashion, beauty and lifestyle for decades, and has finally made its way into packaged food and beverage in the last few years.  Especially intriguing is a recent slew of collabs between Food & Beverage brands and celebrity musicians—namely hip-hop artists.  

On its face, it may seem like a big gap to bridge between the most dope, fly, lit artists EVER (be sure to read this aloud in teenage dialect) with the consumer sector that’s arguably the LEAST hip or leading edge (OK, Beverages excluded).

But it totally makes sense. By joining forces, brands and artists can leverage their unique assets and loyal fan bases to create “crossover” awareness and engagement. Done well, a hot, trending artist can give street cred to longstanding brands seeking revitalization and a younger consumer base.

And don’t get me started on the Merch! The impulse purchase opportunities abound!

Ok, time for the 3 examples:

SPOT ON: Sprite Lymonade Legacy x various Rap Artists 

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IMO, there’s a LOT to love about this collab, which is part of an extended campaign to honor 50 years of hip hop –it’s The Summer of Drops. (get it?) 

  • First, the product sounds delish! The limited-edition flavor featuring “the signature flavor of Sprite with a splash of lemonade and strawberry.”
  • But the actual liquid is just one part of this mega-event. Throughout the summer (i.e., RIGHT NOW! Has your FOMO kicked in yet?!!)  Sprite will release a series of “drops” –limited time windows when consumers can gain QR code access to limited run merch, experiences, content, etc.
  • Most excellent is the new campaign featuring Nas, Rakim, Latto and GloRilla in homage to 50 years of music, culture and entertainment.
  •  Finally, I give the Sprite people extra credit for being attuned and responsive to their fans’ requests and passions…which they’re happy to remind you about in their content!

MISSED THE MARK: Cardi B x Grubhub x Knorr’s Taste Combos 

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Serious question: when you think of Cardi B, do you think….family chef? Nurturing parent? Health nut?

Ummm…I don’t. I think Grammy winner, pre-teen icon, and outrageous fashionista. Call me crazy.

So, a meal kit positioned as a low cost, healthy, at home family meal seems a bit off brand.

To be fair on this one, there are some elements I get:

  • Knorr’s is not exactly known as a trend-forward brand. Having worked in their category, it’s pretty sleepy. So, I applaud their intent to get hip with the youngsters by aligning with hip hop royalty.
  •  I also like the Grub Hub partnership and targeted geography—the program is concentrated in select areas of NYC and Chicago. Big, diverse urban centers make sense.
  • If being a mom, eating healthy, and cooking at home on the regular is REALLY an authentic part of Cardi B’s vibe… more power to them.
  • But the face of it is these big bright green boxes with all you need to make “Marry Me” chicken with Chicken Bouillon as the hero ingredient…whaaat??!!
  • If they REALLY wanted to change brand perceptions and let Cardi be her spicy self, I’d think they’d go with less green and feature a more exciting recipe than “bouillon, veggies, noodles and lean protein.” And, I’ll add that the launch video does a great job branding Cardi, but not so much for Knorr.

WHAT THE….Snoop Dogg & Master P x Post: Broadus Foods Snoop Cereal

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Hip-hop legends Calvin “Snoop Dogg” Broadus and Percy “Master P” Miller have teamed up with Post Cereal to launch a new line this summer, dubbed the Broadus Foods Snoop Cereal brand. The line features three flagship flavors that mimic the formats of well-known cereals: Snoop Fruity Hoopz, Snoop Cinnamon Toasteez, and Snoop Frosted Drizzlerz.

THIS ONE I do NOT get. Do you really want the same guy known for his weed habits AND sipping Corona beer on a beach hocking cereal for your young kids?!

At least a perception of authenticity is key to making these orchestrated relationships work, and I would think moms (as savvy as they are) would see through this: an already over exposed rapper who shows up everywhere is now pandering for even MORE, younger eyeballs!

But with their marketing and PR brilliance, Snoop’s team has positioned the partnership as just his latest kid focused endeavor, following his recent animated kids’ song and nursery rhyme series and public support for a child harmed by gun violence who wanted to  published his own book.

So, if they weren’t superfans already (aren’t they too young for his music?) the under 10 fan base has already been primed for these new hip hopping crunchy delights.

What are some surprising or interesting collabs that have caught your attention?  

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