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A Floundering Campaign… In My Opinion.

February 5, 2015

hardeesbpsHubSpot defines co-marketing as the opportunity for two brands to work together on promotional efforts with a co-branded offer where both companies promote a piece of content or a product, and share results of that promotion with each other. To some, this always sounds like a good idea; collaborating with another company and splitting the cost of advertising, but what happens when the partner you chose looked good in theory and not in reality?

A couple months ago, I was reading some online articles when I came across a web banner ad that caught my attention. Hardee’s had joined forces with Bass Pro Shops to promote their “Outdoor Adventure” Instant Win Game and Sweepstakes. Hardee’s guests could enter to win a fishing boat by purchasing select menu items. Jerry Martin, Bass Pro Shops RedHead pro hunting team leader said, “It’s a great way to kick off the hunting season. Nothing is better than stopping at Hardee’s and grabbing one of their breakfast sandwiches and a cup of hot coffee on the way to the deer stand.” While I’m sure this works for Bass Pro Shops, did it work equally as well for Hardee’s? Let’s analyze it.

Bass Pro Shops is a supplier of outdoor gear for enthusiasts of fishing, hunting, camping and golfing. The majority of their customers travel farther to shop for outdoor gear than they do for work. There are 89 retail stores in the U.S. and Canada and there is a location within hours of a Hardee’s. Furthermore, Bass Pro Shops locations bring in millions of visitors and there has to be a decent percentage of them who have been to a Hardee’s. They seem to be the a great partner for just about anyone. So with all these positives, what’s my issue with this partnership? While it’s obvious that Bass Pro Shops’ customers have to eat somewhere, there is such a disconnect between the two brands that the partnership just seems odd and possibly desperate. When McDonald’s and and Monopoly partner, it’s natural — two fun and family-oriented brands teaming up to make people happy. The two brands evoke enough similar emotions. On the alternative, Bass Pro Shops and Hardee’s may share some of the same customers, but they speak to them in two very different ways. Bass Pro Shops is very responsible and mature in their approach; Hardee’s is the exact opposite with their “hook ’em with sex” approach — those are my words. It doesn’t help either that when I think of Bass Pro Shops, thoughts of bate and tackle come to mind. Drinking out of a cup with a fish on it makes me think of dirty salt water, not a refreshing soft drink.

Michelle Greenwald, a Professor at NYU and Columbia University, wrote, “If done well, these partnerships are innovative because they are new, unexpected, and they achieve brand objectives that not only reinforce an image, but also increase awareness.” In this case, there was some news and press releases and Hardee’s probably got a few hundred extra visitors, but neither Hardee’s or Bass Pro Shops reinforced any positive images and the sweepstakes wasn’t promoted enough for either to increase awareness.

This is only my opinionated opinion, as my buddy Ryan calls my two cents, but I think it’s safe to say that this co-marketing attempt was a dud. At least someone got a boat out of it.

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