Wednesday 24 July 2013, 12:15 | By Andy Malt
Howdy Partner #8: Sometimes it’s as easy as being amazed by food
So, since our last look through the latest brand partnerships, we’ve seen a big one kick off, to varying success. Launching a new partnership with Samsung, Jay-Z announced that he would be giving away a million copies of his new album, ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’, to Samsung Galaxy mobile phone users via a special app slightly ahead of the record’s official release date. Well, he wasn’t exactly giving them away, he actually sold those million downloads to Samsung for $5 a piece. Which is nice.
Not only was it nice financially, thought Jay, but it would also guarantee him a number one album. Perfect. Except his joy was dashed by the keepers of the US charts at Billboard. No, said Billboard editor Bill Werde, you can’t just sell a million copies of an album to another company and expect to get to number one. His record was immediately certified platinum though, which must have been a comfort. If he held that platinum disc up in front of his face and stuffed the $5 million in his ears, he might just have been able to drown out all the complaints.
Sadly, he didn’t think to do that in time, because he was forced to later admit that the promotion was “not good enough”. Though he was referring to the fact that the app had crashed under the weight of demand. But there were more serious accusations that the fact that the app asked for access to huge amounts of personal data stored on users’ phones was a bit of an invasion of privacy. Which isn’t much fun.
A lot more fun is One Direction’s continued inability to say ‘no’ to any ridiculous money-making scheme that comes their way. Having already become the faces of Ritz Crackers (amongst other biscuits) earlier this year, they are now also promoting Australian supermarket Coles and a new nail varnish with which they hope to stamp out bullying. How? I don’t know, but apparently stationery retailer Office Depot thinks it’s a goer.
As does the group’s Niall Horan, who said: “We’re really excited to partner with Office Depot and help spread the anti-bullying message with our fans and students in schools across America. And you know we’re not long out of school ourselves so we can relate. It’s a problem that’s fresh in our minds and we’re eager to raise awareness on this subject”.
I’m still not sure exactly how nail varnish helps. Maybe it’s impossible to bully people who wear nail varnish. Maybe this is the answer to putting an end to war. I will not rest until all world leaders are forced to wear nail varnish. I can’t believe the solution was so simple.
Of course, maintaining a brand partnership deal isn’t as easy as bringing about world peace. No, sometimes things go wrong. Like, say, if you are promoting a loans company and suddenly go bankrupt. Like Kerry Katona, who spoke to The Sun when she found herself in exactly that situation, resulting in her deal with payday loans company Cash Lady being axed.
“They knew exactly what they were doing when they took me on”, Katona complained. “They looked at my popularity and my financial problems and thought, ‘This will get us a shit load of publicity and make us tons of money’. And that’s exactly what they got. I’m the best thing that ever happened to that firm. They got their pound of flesh then ditched me at the first sign of trouble”.
Yeah, imagine that. The company was quite happy presenting Katona in its ads as someone who just needed a little help to stay on top of her finances, but was less keen on running a spot with Katona saying, “I’m not allowed money because I can’t be trusted with it, but you guys can have some”. Actually, that’s quite good, maybe Cash Lady should have kept her on.
Another partnership that came to a sudden end recently, on account of never having existed in the first place, was one between Durex and Daft Punk. As a slightly late promotional item for their single ‘Get Lucky’, the producers had a load of condoms made up with the track’s artwork on them. It was widely reported that this was the result of an official partnership with Durex, but not so said the company.
Possibly the firm was worried that people would think that it advocated staying up all night to ‘get lucky’, which could result in dangerous levels of sleep deprivation. Their fears certainly weren’t anything to do with the way in which the intended use of their product was being presented, as the company said gleefully in its statement denying any involvement: “We do hope that by using Durex condoms, music-lovers will continue to make sweet music together and have great sex”.
So, the world of brand partnerships doesn’t always run smooth. Unless you’re Snoop Dogg, of course, who seems to have the whole thing down to a fine art. Would you like to give Snoop some money? He will take it, and he’ll do anything you like for it.
In the past we’ve seen him play Ebenezer Scrooge for Adidas and re-record one of his biggest hits for microwave snack Hot Pockets. This time around, all he had to do was order some food and then pretend to be amazed by it, so it was nice and easy.
While Snoop was at SXSW earlier this year, during an awkward conversation with his new protégé, singer Iza Lach, one of his entourage happened to show him food delivery app Eat24, while delivering a bag of marijuana, in the hope of breaking the awkwardness. You can order any food on this app, they told him. Any food at all. “Chicken wings”, said Snoop. Which isn’t that adventurous. “Barbeque chicken wings with lemon pepper, French fries, and ranch”, he quickly typed, so as to make it a bit more difficult.
Fifteen minutes later, the food arrived. Just like that! Everything that Snoop had ordered delivered hot and right to his location. Almost as if none of this had been spontaneous. “Eat24 is sponsoring my munchies”, he later tweeted. With the company’s co-founder Asaf Sharon this week confirming that his app is the perfect complement to your drug-induced hunger, saying: “If you think about it, the Eat24 app is like munchies on demand”.
Now, apparently, Snoop uses the app every single day, getting “wings, pizza, pasta, even Duck A’Lorange right to the studio”. Which doesn’t sound like a very balanced diet. But, whatever, Snoop can only blame himself. And not just because his food intake is his own personal responsibility, but because his short term memory is now apparently so bad that he can’t remember that someone else showed the app to him in the first place. In fact, he seems to think he invented it. “It’s the best highdea I had in a long time”, he says confusingly in the company’s latest press release.
If you were wondering how I knew about the awkward conversation and Snoop’s introduction to the app, by the way, someone filmed it all for no reason. Then they agreed to let Eat24 use it as a promotional video, which was really decent of them: