Co-branded advertising? Or, native advertising inside advertising?

I saw this advertisement on TV (which is a surprise because I watch TV so rarely). And, despite the obvious MRF logo, I thought it was an ad for Ford Endeavour!

Despite the agency’s desperate attempts to not show the brand of SUV, it is fairly obvious that it IS a Ford Endeavour.

Even some of the comments on YouTube talk about the Endeavour (considering there’s only so much one can talk about a tyre brand).

So, I wonder – why can’t more brands tie-up together and share the advertising costs, by doing co-branded ads?

To be sure, I say ‘more brands’ because there are precedences to this. Intel is famous for co-branded ads that they fund on behalf of OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers). So, when you see an ad for Dell, Lenovo or HP, and see the Intel logo and brand sound, you can be sure that Intel funded part of the marketing budget.

In Intel’s case, under the very famous ‘Intel Inside’ campaign, the aim is to tell potential buyers that Intel processors power the PC they see in the ad. To advertise Intel’s processors on their own, without specifically informing people how they can buy that power for their PCs is largely pointless – Intel is a B2B company, but Intel Inside is a brilliant marketing twist to make it B2C.

Another example is that of Ariel and LG washing machines. Watch this ad and tell me which brand is the ad for – Ariel washing power or LG washing machine?

It’s a co-branded communication that works for both brands, even though it doesn’t convey the specific details of what LG would like to convey about its washing machines (as per its own narrative).

Think of it as ‘native advertising’ inside advertising đŸ™‚

Like actual native advertising inside content/news, this can only work when the use-case depicted is real. For instance, have you noticed the brand of laptop used in NDTV news? Right now, it’s Acer! But only one of them is advertising – Acer. The other is organic content by NDTV.

In case of MRF and Ford, it’d be co-branded advertising where Ford pays to ensure that they are featured in an MRF ad that talks specifically about SUVs. It need not be exclusive – if MRF makes another campaign the subsequent year, Toyota could negotiate to be the brand featured, with the Fortuner.

It has happened in the past, incidentally. Here’s another MRF Wanderer ad featuring a Mitsubishi Pajero.

And another one, featuring a Jeep Wrangler.

If you see from this lens, any and every advertising you see on TV could be a potential opportunity provided both products are targeting similar consumers.

For instance, the athletic clothes that people wear in an ad for a fitness brand, the shoes worn by models in a jeans/denim ad, the brand of furniture in a paint brand’s ad, premium bathroom tiles in a premium bathroom fittings ad… the potential is limited only by imagination.

And… there’s another requirement – the marketing and brand managers (and their agencies) need to talk to each other and be on the lookout for potential co-branding opportunities.