A jeep parked between Harley Davidson motorbikes

Automotive brand partnership marketing is increasingly becoming an interesting and tactical part of any brand's strategy.

At a brand level, there have been a number of interesting car partnerships recently mainly around technology, electric and autonomous vehicle development; Ford and VW; Toyota and Suzuki; BMW and Daimler; Huyndai and Aptiv... 

Other car brands are partnering with sales platforms, for example, Carwow and Vauxhall have had a strategic partnership since 2019, driving Vauxhall's growth in EV sales using retail network development, media and content.

A number of other car businesses have also joined forces with other businesses outside the 'traditional' automotive world. Sky Media and HeyCar; Ford and Next to develop their retail offering as well as Tag Heuer and Porsche on a new watch while Hermes and Rolls Royce are coming together to create a bespoke car.

Why automotive brand partnership marketing works

Joining forces with a like-minded car brand can see myriad benefits for both parties. Perhaps the most immediate and obvious of these is skillsets and reach – each of the two brands instantly gains a new, engaged audience, and the opportunity to attract attention beyond their traditional audience base.

There’s a certain creative freedom that may be seized by each brand, as they can push the boundaries of their typical messaging a little further, while still maintaining overall control of output. Plus, partnerships get people talking – it’s a great way of generating buzz, particularly if the partnership will serve as a backdrop for the launch of new product ranges or initiatives.

Alongside these clear advantages, there are a number of day-to-day, practical benefits to be gained within a brand partnership. On a basic level, for example, costs can be split, and expertise can be shared. It’s also easy to gain fast, reliable insight and feedback on new products and services,

Automotive brand partnership marketing example

One particularly effective brand partnership – facilitated by Dialogue – was between iconic brands Harley-Davidson and Jeep which began in 2014 and ran for five years.

The collaboration between the two motoring giants grew out of an initial conversation about advertising. Jeep’s marketing team were looking to advertise in the Harley Owners Group® magazine, HOG®, and it soon became apparent that there was much each brand could gain from a more formalised, comprehensive partnership that went beyond straightforward advertising. The two brands share a similar outlook, as well as highly engaged and passionate brand communities, so it seemed a natural pairing.

The partnership lasted for several years and saw great success on a number of platforms:

- Events: Jeep became a high-profile sponsor for several key annual Harley-Davidson events across the EMEA region, presenting demos and test-drive experiences for attendees.

- Printed content: HOG and 7 magazines (the official owners’ group publications for each brand) both featured original partnership content, covering events, brand heritage and community. This material was sourced and produced by Dialogue, in close collaboration with stakeholders from each brand.

- Community engagement: Exclusive consumer benefits were offered as a result of the partnership, including preferential rates on new vehicle purchases. Member competitions were a particularly effective way of boosting engagement: for example, winners of a 2018 Jeep Owners Group custom competition enjoyed an all-expenses-paid trip to the Harley-Davidson 115th anniversary celebrations in Prague that same year, while H.O.G.® members could vote on their favourite submissions from that contest for the chance to attend Camp Jeep, Jeep’s flagship annual event.

Key to the success of the automotive partnership were a tight harnessing of the messaging and a focus on key emotional driving forces and brand values shared by fans of both brands:

• A sense of freedom and adventure

• Pride in the brand’s iconic history and heritage

• A passion for vehicle customisation

• A feeling of belonging to a ‘family’ of likeminded enthusiasts

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