Unlikely Partnerships in Retail Marketing


Whether it’s to gain a new audience or just re-captivate an existing one, brands are coming up with some unusual partnerships these days. Clothing lines and personal trainers, tennis pros and candy — the list goes on. While they may sound surprising, these sorts of alliances make sense — the more offbeat, the more likely they are to attract consumer attention. Here are a few that stand out as the most innovative/unusual.

Walmart: At the end of 2010, the retail behemoth announced it would be working with the Department of Homeland Security to screen “If you see something, say something” videos at their check-out lines. While the partnership wasn’t intended to promote any particular product, the company announced they were “proud to be the first national retailer to partner” with the DHS, making the video screenings seem less like a concession to national security and more like an extension of the retailer’s self-marketing.

Is it a broken tennis ball? No, it’s a gumball, courtesy of Maria Sharapova’s efforts at branding herself as a maven of candy.

Maria Sharapova: Equally unusual, albeit more fun, is Maria Sharapova’s upcoming extension of her own brand. The tennis diva has branched out from her Nike contract and Tag Heuer endorsement (among others) to create a candy brand, Sugarpova. Lest it sound totally out of left field, please note the candy will be tennis-themed. Sharapova is also working with a tried-and-true candyman to launch the sweets — her business partner is Jeff Rubin, who helped create Dylan’s Candy Bar.

The trainer Tracy Anderson, on the right, admires her “Choose Tracy” Juicy Couture tee.

Juicy Couture: One alliance that caught our eye is Juicy’s new partnership with the celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson. For a recent event unveiling the brand’s summer clothing, Anderson debuted a corresponding “Juicy” exercise routine. It may sound like a non sequitur, but the workout was billed as a way to make the clothing look its best. In light of the summertime launch, the fashion-workout mash-up was actually pretty, er…fitting.

Curél: If the athlete-candywoman shift isn’t unusual enough, how about a beauty product launching a coat, designed by a reality star and sold for charity? Last winter, Curél collaborated with Kris Jenner (Kim Kardashian’s mom) to create the “Barrier coat,” sold at Searle. All the proceeds from its sales benefited One Warm Coat, a non-profit dedicated to providing outerwear to those in need. The “Barrier” is actually a reference to Curél’s recent addition of barrier-forming ceramides to their skin products. Sure…why not?

Besides this sampling, there are plenty of others.  What strange fashion mash-ups have you witnessed recently?

Disclosure: Juicy Couture is owned by Liz Claiborne Inc., the sponsor of this site.