​​​​Last month was the notoriously flashy marketing industry event, Cannes Lions. Brands and agencies from around the world convened on the coastline of France to sip Rosé, entertain on yachts (or private beaches) and listen to musings from Facebook, Apple, American Express, Diesel and creatives such as Queen Latifah, Thandie Newton and Conan O’Brien.

The pinnacle event is the awards ceremony and I bring it up for one reason. P&G.

An unlikely winner in two of the festival’s highest profile award categories: Film and Titanium. ​The lion’s share of attention, literally, has been directed at its snarky and blatantly obvious yet creative Super Bowl spot, “It’s a Tide Ad.” What’s interesting about this spot is not just the creativity (the “duh, this is what a commercial should be” attitude) but who they are marketing to – a new audience of consumers. It’s not your mother’s laundry detergent anymore.

I love when heritage brands evolve. It’s critical in order to market to Millennials and GenZ and even those old GenX fogies’ who engage differently with brands than their Baby Boomer predecessors. They consume media differently and engage with technology seamlessly. As such, brands’ marketing campaigns must add value to a lifestyle rather than simply disrupting it. Sometimes, like It’s a Tide Ad, this involves being obvious.

What do I mean by that? Brands need to engage with younger audiences in a new way. Tide’s ad wasn’t just a film. P&G supplemented their campaign with the right amount of social media marketing too – to get the message across in a clear, amusing but effective manner. It made people think before and after the ads aired that just about anything could be a Tide ad. The campaign naturally drove buzz marketing and connected with an audience whose lives are lived digitally.

Brands need to pay attention to the shifts in digital culture and the way people communicate.

Most importantly, they need to understand that the digital generations appreciate an honest approach that doesn’t try to sugar coat the payback. Brands can be literal with this audience and spell out life changing benefits (especially in a tongue and cheek way).

But not every brand can afford a P&G campaign.

…Luckily there are other avenues for delivering narrative content to the digital generation in a natural, creative way.

Partnership marketing is one of these avenues. Developing a relationship between brands can add value and lifestyle context in a way that doesn’t seem forced and be a basis for narrative storytelling.

A great strategic partnership example would be a promotion between an online fashion brand and a ride sharing service or a digital wallet. The message of “quicker, easier and more convenient” clearly resonates through this type of brand alliance.

Encouraging the digital generation to use one service by providing a value add for the other. It’s simple, useful and cost-effective. Ideally it creates a service affinity too. Sometimes, doing the obvious may actually work.

And best of all: It’s a lot less expensive than doing a Super Bowl ad!

My partnership-marketing agency Regatta helps clients build brand relationships that improve their marketing ROI. Feel free to reach out to us for more strategic partnership examples and to learn how we can help your brand too.