Sunday, 13 January 2013

A Happy Collaboration

Collaboration used to be something of a dirty word with its connotations of letting out secrets, saving your own skin, sleeping with the enemy, being a traitor and that sort of thing. Even in the world of brands, collaboration used to be eyed with suspicion - would association with another brand sully your reputation? Would the so-and-sos discover the secret of your brand essence?

However, things are opening up. For the last decade or so, co-operations, certainly in terms of promotion, but also in terms of product have become increasingly the norm. Ten years ago it was surprising to see two confectionary brands producing a hybrid - something like Haribo Goldbären and Smarties - but these days, it's perfectly normal.

The latest collaboration that has impressed me is McDonald's Happy Readers activity, where the fast-food chain is collaborating with book publishers such as Dorling Kindersley, retailers such as WHSmith's and the National Literacy Trust to encourage reading. The kick-off will include books being given away instead of toys in the Happy Meal. By the end of 2014, McDonalds will have given away 15m books in the UK, making them Britain's biggest book distributor.

For a long time, I wasn't a great fan of McDonalds and I have to admit that I still find their products pretty yucky. But I do admire the way they have turned around their marketing.

This is a collaboration that shows both generosity and responsibility - and possibly a better fit for McDonalds than Ronald McD encouraging "the kids" to do sport!

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