Dawn of the age of collaborative marketing

Santosh R, Co-founder and CMO of Elever, writes that through collaborative marketing, brands can benefit from credibility rub-offs. By leveraging complementary strengths, enhancing innovation, achieving cost efficiency, and accessing new markets, brands can create more impactful campaigns and products

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Santosh Aiyar

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In gathering my thoughts for this article, I couldn’t help but remember the old Doordarshan animation of ‘Ek chidiya, anek chidiya’. It was supposed to teach children about strength in unity. And that timeless lesson is very much becoming a reality for many marketers.

Ek chidiya, anek chidiya’

In our increasingly fragmented and content-saturated world, brands are engaged in a fierce battle for the attention of the same set of eyeballs. With consumers bombarded by a relentless stream of ads, messages, and content from every direction, standing out has become an ever-more daunting challenge. And it is in this context that a growing number of brands are realising the power of joining forces, to cut through the noise and capture coveted consumer attention. 

Below are some of the ways in which brands benefit from collaborations. 

Increasing reach

One of the most significant benefits of brand collaborations is the ability to tap into each other's audiences. When two brands come together, they pool their followers, fans, and customers, effectively doubling their reach. For example, when Taco Bell collaborated with Doritos to create the Doritos Locos Tacos, they effectively reached both Taco Bell's customer base and Doritos' snack enthusiasts, expanding their reach and driving sales. 

Credibility rub-off

Trust is a priceless commodity in today's market. When brands collaborate, they can benefit from each other's credibility. This "credibility rub-off" helps lesser-known or newer brands gain consumer trust faster. A study by Nielsen in 2022 revealed that 83% of consumers are more likely to purchase a new product if it is associated with a brand they already trust.

Take, for instance, Apple teaming up with Anytime Fitness to offer levels of reciprocal access between Apple Fitness+ and Anytime Fitness health clubs as Apple seeks to add in-person workout elements to its digital package and Anytime Fitness benefitted from a massive credibility boost thanks to its link with Apple. 

Leveraging complementary strengths and enhanced innovation

No brand is an island. By teaming up, brands can leverage each other's strengths to create more compelling products and campaigns. This synergy is particularly evident when the collaborating brands have complementary strengths.

Consider the 2023 collaboration between Nike and Microsoft. Nike, a titan in sportswear, and Microsoft, a leader in technology, combined their expertise to create the Nike Adapt BB 2.0, a smart sneaker that can be adjusted via a smartphone app. This collaboration brought together Nike's knowledge of athletic footwear and Microsoft's technological prowess, resulting in a product that was greater than the sum of its parts. The Adapt BB 2.0 saw a 50% increase in sales compared to previous models, demonstrating the effectiveness of leveraging complementary strengths.

Cost efficiency

Brand collaborations can also be a cost-effective strategy. By sharing resources, marketing costs, and even production facilities, brands can achieve significant savings. A 2023 report by McKinsey & Company highlighted that companies engaging in collaborative marketing efforts saw an average cost reduction of 25%.

The collaboration between Coca-Cola and McDonald's is a classic example. By jointly promoting each other's products, they have managed to save millions in marketing expenses over the years. This long-standing partnership has also contributed to both brands maintaining strong market positions.

Access to new markets

Collaborating with a partner brand can provide access to new markets that might have been difficult to enter independently. This strategy allows brands to test the waters in new geographic regions or demographic segments with reduced risk.

The partnership between American automotive company Ford and India's Mahindra Group in 2024 exemplifies this. Ford leveraged Mahindra's local market knowledge and distribution network to strengthen its presence in India. In return, Mahindra benefited from Ford's technological expertise. This collaboration resulted in a 30% increase in market share for Ford in India and boosted Mahindra's technological capabilities.


In a world where consumer attention is a precious and fleeting commodity, brand collaborations offer a powerful strategy to stand out. By increasing reach, benefiting from credibility rub-offs, leveraging complementary strengths, enhancing innovation, achieving cost efficiency, and accessing new markets, brands can create more impactful campaigns and products.