Unexpected brand collaborations show way to revive X Factor
A view from Sarah Marshall

Unexpected brand collaborations show way to revive X Factor

It looks like Simon Cowell needs to find some inspiration after the first episode of BBC's Strictly Come Dancing beat The X Factor's ratings by...

There's nothing to love or even to hate very much in spreading another helping of Louis Walsh over The X Factor

He could do worse than look back through a selection of the most surprising brand collaborations.

When Stella McCartney and Adidas joined forces in 2004 to create a sports design collection for women the unorthodox fusion of sport and fashion rocked the marketing world. 

More than a decade later, McCartney has an Olympic commission for Team GB under her belt and the Adidas Ultra Boost x Stella McCartney shoes retail for £220 a pair at Harvey Nichols.

Everybody here is a winner. Adidas finds a new revenue stream and fashionable edge for its brand while Stella McCartney courts a new audience with something a bit more "street". Retailers have a new, premium, product on their shelves.

Cowell has stated his ambition is to beat Strictly, saying in August: "If it's us versus [Strictly contestant] Peter Andre, I'm going to put my money on us."

He needs to find a big surprise. Boy band impresario Louis Walsh was linked with a return, but he doesn’t spark our imaginations in the same way as, to use a brand example, Marmite and Guinness.

Such was the success of the tie-up that Marmite attempted other alcohol-related limited editions with a Marston’s Pedigree Marmite and a Champagne-flavoured variant. 

Brand learning

But there's nothing to love or even to hate very much in spreading another helping of Louis Walsh over The X Factor.

It could be time for Sharon Osbourne’s husband Ozzy to step into her shoes and divide public opinion. Or how about a personality diametrically opposed to Cowell to act the Corbyn to his Cameron? 

Perhaps Pete Doherty is the one to shake up Saturday nights. Too big and leftfield a gamble? Then a truly egotistical, and excruciatingly controversial, judge like Russell Brand would be guaranteed to get people talking about the show again.

One thing is clear. If Cowell wants to restore The X Factor to its former glory and regain his crown as the king of Saturday night TV, his next partnership should be the one we least expect.