No brand is an island – even brands as big as Disney! Brand collaborations have become a key part of companies’ marketing strategies in recent years.
There are many reasons why brands choose to collaborate, including gaining a broader reach of their target audience through joining forces. Disney are masters of utilising co-branding to inject their distinct “magic” and company values into an array of audience touch-points, and the release of the live-action The Little Mermaid film is a perfect example of their partnership prowess.
The Little Mermaid is not merely a remake of the original, but a dynamic reimagining encompassing strong values. From casting burgeoning talent Halle Bailey to its powerful messaging on conservation, this film sent waves through social media and, in turn, Disney delivered a marketing campaign that rocked the boat.
Why did Disney’s collaboration strategy succeed in the lead-up to its release? The company aligned itself with brands that were representative of the audiences they were targeting. Disney showed that casting a Black actress as Ariel wasn’t merely a gesture of diversity and inclusivity; therefore, they co-branded products with both Black-owned and Women-owned businesses like haircare brand Carol’s Daughter and skincare brand Black Girl Sunscreen.
[Image Creds: Carol’s Daughter]
Illustrated by the beautiful graphics under the sea and Ariel’s pursuit to create harmony between the human world and the ocean, the film’s messaging supports ocean conservation and sustainable values. As such, they also released co-branded products with sustainable deodorant brand Wild and a limited edition refillable Ocean Bottle.
[Image Creds: Ocean Bottle]
Like any good collaboration, the campaign was complementary. The Little Mermaid’s co-branded products not only promoted the film to the right audience, but they chose brands that serve the needs and values of audience communities. Moreover, industry heavyweight Disney has elevated the awareness of smaller brands who are committed to making positive change in the world.
Though they’ve faced pushback from a vocal minority, Disney’s values-led strategy is a swimming success, as The Little Mermaid floated to the top of the box office, making $96 million opening weekend in North America alone. As for their collaborators? Let’s hope it has mermaid their financial year!
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