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The Perfect Cocktail of Partnership Marketing

It’s Friday, and the weekend is within reach. Whether it’s to celebrate a productive week or to just let off steam, some folks will turn to a cocktail to unwind. With COVID-19 helping give mixology a big boost in popularity, people who enjoy a drink know that there’s no shortage of options at their disposal. Yet among the many choices available, in my opinion there’s one that stands out from the rest:

The Negroni.

I stand behind the belief that the Negroni is the perfect cocktail to order or to make yourself, for the following reasons:

Simplicity: equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari. Combine with ice and stir – no need to memorize ratios, no need for fancy tools

Versatility: the Negroni can be enjoyed before, during, or after a meal, in any setting and any time of year

Balance: not too sweet, not too bitter, not too strong – every element works together to create a harmonious (and delicious) drink

Another reason why I’m a fan of the Negroni is that it’s a great metaphor for partnership marketing. The relationship between agencies, properties, and brands within the context of partnerships has a lot in common with the relationship between the Negroni’s gin, sweet vermouth and Campari.

An agency is like gin, a foundational element of the Negroni. With the right resources and industry knowledge, good agencies facilitate a partnership by working in the background and letting the other participants shine in the spotlight.

A property is like sweet vermouth, a vital ingredient for depth and complexity. Properties bring assets, venues, and audiences that can be leveraged to add nuance to a brand’s marketing campaign.

A brand is like Campari, the “x-factor” that gives the cocktail its signature unique flavour. It’s not a Negroni without Campari, and it’s not a partnership without the brand.

Brands use their products, brand equity, and activation budgets to make the partnership really sing.

When done correctly, a great partnership involves equal levels of commitment from all parties. Too much or too little from one side, and there’s a risk of losing that carefully constructed balance. Partnership marketing is also not the only solution for a brand’s marketing challenges – although versatile, a brand is wise to complement partnership marketing with other marketing strategies. I wouldn’t recommend that my clients invest exclusively in partnership marketing, just like I wouldn’t recommend someone spend a night exclusively drinking Negronis. In both cases, there can be “too much of a good thing.”

I believe that great partnerships, like great cocktails, can truly be transformative. If you do decide to indulge in cocktails (or partnership marketing), please do so responsibly.


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