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Purposeful Partnerships Push the Industry Forward

It’s been exciting to watch the attention brand partnerships have received this year in the sports, entertainment, and lifestyle spaces. From Barbie’s 30+ partnerships dominating summer conversations to Coach Prime’s impressive ability to keep the spotlight on him and his brand partners (shoutout to Blenders for their foresight and nimbleness) – sponsorships and partnerships have been front and center. But even with the deserved successes and accolades, many alignments I’ve seen still feel either transactional, superficial or fleeting. As Senior Vice President of Partnerships at GMR Marketing, I believe that partnerships can be the most impactful instrument in the marketing toolbox, and it's incumbent on all of us to keep pushing this industry forward. 

At GMR, we call our partnerships discipline ‘purposeful partnerships.’ Purposeful, because they reflect brand purpose. Purposeful, because they’re built with intention. Purposeful, because they serve a greater good. The best partnerships allow a brand’s purpose to come alive by sharing equity with best-fit partners who drive culture and provide a playground for the brand’s core values.

This follows our agency’s ethos that we’re not storytellers. We’re StoryMakersFor a brand to create memories and meaning, its stories must be lived, not simply heard or seen. Nothing can drive this lived experience better than purposeful partnerships.

The best partnerships cannot be limited by traditional sponsorship goals. They are a connective tissue across the entire marketing mix, encourage participation with audiences, are born of cultural relevance, and, ideally, address social responsibility. While sponsorships are transactional, partnerships cannot simply be replaced by another brand in the same category because they are too culturally real, too engrained into the fabric of the alignment, and too additive to the fan experience.

  • Instead of simply offering brand visibility, they drive connection and influence with audiences.
  • Rather than just engaging a target audience, they provide collaborative opportunities for co-creation.
  • Instead of being trendy alliances, they are culture-shaping unions.

These partnerships can also help a brand make a statement by driving investment, awareness, and activism for the greater good. They are purposefully built to drive change.

I’m particularly excited to watch the power of purposeful partnership come alive via the work GMR is doing with Cigna Healthcare to evolve their NFL alignment. You’ll experience this later in the football season. The partnership is rooted in shared missions around health equity, understanding social determinants of health, and both physical and mental wellness. Cigna Healthcare, the NFL, and team partners will be fostering important conversations about wellness through community efforts, content, talent alignments, experiential activations and more. Stay tuned!

Cheers to my colleagues who have done outstanding partnership work in 2023. Let’s celebrate the wins and well-deserved attention. Let’s also ensure that we continue moving the industry forward with innovation, pushing boundaries, and creating purposeful partnerships. If your brand is considering how to better align your partnership strategy with your values, contact us.