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These Brand Partnerships Were Epic Fails. Here’s What To Learn from Them


If you’ve ever worked on a group project, you’ll know that certain types of people just don’t mesh. The same rings true with brand partnerships.

While co-marketing can be a great way to pull a new audience into the picture, it’s not always a GoPro and Red Bull love story. So let’s look at some brand partnerships that have flopped to determine what co-marketing moves to avoid and where to draw the line for your next campaign.

Pepsi and Kendall Jenner

A few years ago one of the world’s most famous models and Pepsi decided they were going to fight for civil rights together and the world may never forget. Although there’s nothing wrong with a supermodel promoting a soda brand (it’s been done properly before), this commercial was different. In it, Jenner handed a police officer a Pepsi during a protest and people felt that the two brands disregarded the seriousness of a very real issue. It didn’t showcase social consciousness, if you will.

Neiman Marcus and Target

Target has done a lot of incredible collaborations with clothing designers that would usually be over their shoppers’ desired price points. Lilly Pulitzer dresses, for instance, typically retail for $200 a pop. But, the TargetxLillyPulitzer collab dresses retailed for about $50 a piece and they flew off the shelves. Target tried to do something similar with Neiman Marcus, a luxury (like super luxury) brand, and they just couldn’t keep the prices low enough for the typical Target shopper. Remember, the goal at the end of the day is to make both target audiences happy.

Forever 21 and Atkins

This one is just ridiculous. Last year Forever 21, the trendy fast-fashion retailer for teen girls and young adults, partnered with Atkins— yeah, the diet brand. Anyway, Forever 21 sent Atkins weight loss bars with their online orders and people were kinda furious. Not only did the brands’ missions and audiences not align at all, but Forever 21 offers many plus-sized clothing options. Customers just assumed they were being body-shamed.

Kraft and Starbucks

This partnership was very successful— for one of them anyway. Kraft helped Starbucks grow by aiding them in the distribution of their products, so they could build their grocery store presence. Unfortunately, Starbucks unilaterally decided to end their agreement without really providing anything in return. The message here? Communicate, communicate, communicate, and dot your i’s and cross your t’s.