The coronavirus pandemic has brought romance to its knees (and not in a good way).
While flower brand Bloom & Wild is encouraging lovesick Brits to ditch the flowers this Valentine’s Day, Krispy Kreme has enlisted a barbershop quartet to transform romantic messages into songs and dating app Happn is hosting a less-than intimate dating experience in the virtual environment of, arguably, TV’s least sexy game show – The Crystal Maze.
Brands are also banding together in the name of love this year, with Tinder partnering Deliveroo for a Valentine's dating service and online mortgage company Habito teaming up with My Dad Wrote a Porno’s Rocky Flintstone to release an erotic novel for Valentine’s Day, The Road to Completion.
But it was the unlikely pairing of Weetabix and Heinz Beanz that broke the internet this week, sparking the possibility that love is actually in the air this Valentine’s Day (though face masks are still compulsory).
Campaign is now looking for a spark by letting industry romantics pick two brands they'd love to matchmake.
CEO, Engine Creative
For me, the brand ripest for a partnership in 2021 is Ikea. Despite the in-store retail decline, Ikea holds potential for resilience – in part due to the increasing focus on home-improvement, but also to the “Ikea experience”. And a tie-up with Peloton would be ideal. Home improvement meets home workout.
As real and inspirational as they make the Ikea showroom experience, it’s missing the magic and authenticity of brands that form part of our day-to-day lives. The last time I visited an Ikea, I walked past one showroom that had been set up to resemble a home gym, another a tailor. They reminded me of Nike and Ted Baker stores, but everything was unbranded.
What if the brands we love were there bringing parts of the store to life? So, in the home gym, Peloton has taken over to give quick demonstrations. I know Ikea's aim is to get you through to the shop part of the store as quickly as possible. But, with a little more real-world inspiration and with the showroom continually being updated with new partnerships, this could be an excellent opportunity to drive people back in-store more often.
It would also provide a way for other category brands, say, Hello Fresh, to demonstrate how easy their kits are, to achieve a real-world destination without the overheads of a prime retail location, and for both brands to reach a new audience in a meaningful way.
Planning director, Wunderman Thompson UK
In a hilarious online segment of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver asked the question ‘What does the rest of the Pringles guy’s body look like?’ The response from the internet was as you’d expect . Epic. Full blown drawings and mock-ups with storytelling and props of Mr Pringles.
I’d love to see Pringles partner Fortnite and release a downloadable "Mr Pringles" character you could play with in the game. Go even further and take inspiration from some of the internet’s submissions (maybe avoiding the Chippendale drawings).
Pringles already does a lot in the gaming arena, but this is the kind of move that takes a partnership to a different level. While it’s all a bit of harmless fun and feels like a knee-jerk reaction to just "a moment in time", the brand would get incredible street-cred among gamers by showing it’s not afraid to laugh at itself. Which, as we’ve seen from the "beans on bix" fiasco, can be quite memorable.
Executive creative director, Droga5 London
While future generations may wonder how humanity’s gravest threat was compelled to share the headlines with a Levi’s-Lego trucker jacket, the pandemic hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm for a good old zeitgeisty collab. In fact, the challenge gets my mind racing regularly: Should A-Levels be a game on the PlayStation 5? Could Deliveroo do Test and Trace? But before I tell you about my Big Mac ‘n Vac Value Meal concept, I should make it clear that I prefer the idea of long-term brand partnerships for good, to simple fame-driving tie ins.
In reality, I imagine gender-based toy institutions, like Barbie and Hot Wheels joining forces to produce a new, less binary franchise. Or fast-food companies linking arms with conservation brands to develop new menus.
Look, I’m no martyr. I bought all the Liberty Nikes. There’s nothing wrong with unlikely logos partnering for fun and a little attention. But we know that the brands we guide are potent. To combine them should send an electric shock through society. But, if Pedigree and Pringles could get both snacks (divided) in the same tube, there are two species stuck on this sofa who’d be ready to pop and unwilling to stop.
Founder and ECD, Quiet Storm
After being stuck at home for nearly a year, who could blame us for hoovering up the custard creams? Sadly, indulging has always had a way of making us feel like shit about ourselves. In an attempt to feel better, we might hit the treadmill or brave the elements to go for a run. Then we reward ourselves with a treat. And so, the cycle continues.
This paradoxical approach to keeping body and soul together is an age-old phenomenon. But with ever-increasing levels of depression and anxiety, lockdown has thrown it into sharp relief. Sales of booze and junk food have soared. At the same time, we're obsessing over our health and stocking up on supplements, exercise and workout gear.
McDonald's and Gymbox represent two sides of this never-ending battle. If they joined forces, it could make the endless rounds of punishment and reward that little bit easier. McDonald's could signpost on its packaging the precise number of online workout classes at Gymbox required to burn off the calories in, say, a Big Mac and number of steps to the nearest Gymbox. In turn, Gymbox members could earn free rewards at McDonald's after clocking up enough hours of exercise.
I can see the new logo now – a man holding up the golden arches as if they were barbells.
Global chief creative officer, Cheil Worldwide
Partnerships and collabs are hot right now, opening brands to wider audiences while spicing things up for existing customers. However, most are niche and about seasonal sales fixes.
But what if we were to think big? To think about brand partnerships that could positively impact the world.
How sweet would that be? Amazon could carry on selling anything to anyone, anywhere, while Telsa could handle the logistics without pollution (Tesla would likely replace the cardboard box with Mycelium packaging too).
Bezos could stop searching for the next planet to pollute and start "giving back" to more meaningful projects.
Elon could truly save us from ourselves, scaling Tesla to become the first global sustainable-transport company.
We could then shop with Amazon without the guilt of supporting the company that first destroyed independent booksellers, then went about fuelling the climate catastrophe with billions of fossil fuel deliveries.
Will it happen? Fat chance. Amazon will PR its couple of hundred electric vans while it takes over your grocery and health deliveries.
Chief creative officer, Ogilvy
It’d be great if Schitt’s Creek and Brexit got all lovey-dovey.
Schitt’s Creek is the story of a wealthy and established family whose fate changes overnight, for reasons that are obscure and hard to explain. Tragedy ensues. But surprisingly, so does humour. And slowly, extremely slowly, the main characters who run the show eventually grow from being arrogant and obnoxious to more empathetic human beings.
Schitt’s Creek has been much lauded for depicting a place of acceptance and dialogue, with no room for hatred, misogyny, prejudice or homophobia. And the four family members, against all odds, learn to understand each other and find love in the end.
The two brands have some similarities. For example, the people who created it are actually in it, too. But unlike Schitt’s Creek, which has had its finale, Brexit is barely at the start of season one. It’d be great if they could meet and fall in love with one another. As in any good rom com, the one who found meaning in life would teach the other to avoid the traps of misery.
Call it wishful thinking if you want. But that’s the unlikely magic of love stories, which invariably end with people living happily ever after.