Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why Collaborate? Four Examples of Successful Industry Marketing Collaborations

Note by David Carlisle: This past week I was in Detroit to recognize the accomplishments of a few UAW groups that had really moved the needle. During the in-between times I chatted with an NAPB steering committee member about the value of this past year’s supply chain collaboration focus day. “Huge” was the response – they are working with another OEM in collaborative cross-docking and dealer deliveries. In one region they are saving one-third of the DDS miles and millions of dollars. So, we do “get” what collaboration is all about. Other industries get it too. We need to get more of it.

There is no doubt that industry collaboration represents a substantial challenge. Different company objectives, priorities, cultures, and, of course, budgets have to be aligned behind a single effort. The larger the group, the greater the resources…and, the greater the potential for discord. When talking to companies about collaboration, the question on everyone’s mind is always “who’s in, who’s out?” Indeed, building a collaboration group is not unlike building a house of cards; if one company wavers, the whole thing can come crashing down.

Though there are certainly barriers to collaboration, particularly when it comes to public, customer-facing efforts, we can take comfort in knowing that other industries have already taken the leap…and landed safely on the ground. Four collaborative marketing efforts stand out:

1. Go RVing: The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association has engaged in collaborative marketing since 1997. Targeted print and media ads point customers to, an interactive website where consumers can learn more about RV camping and travel. Go RVing has a robust social media presence, including an active Facebook page with over 61,000 fans. The $8.25 million “Phase IV” campaign, launched in 2010, promotes the affordability of RV vacations with the tagline “Go Affordably. Go RVing.”

2. got milk?: Hailed as one of the most successful ad campaigns in history, got milk? was launched in 1993 when fluid milk processors in California agreed to fund promotion efforts. The campaign was licensed nationally in 1995 for use in print ads featuring celebrities with “milk mustaches.” Now with an interactive website promoting various health benefits, the campaign is managed by the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board, which has an approximate annual budget of $110 million.

3. Pork: Be Inspired: The National Pork Board’s original campaign, Pork: The Other White Meat, was also cited as one of the most memorable campaigns of all time. This campaign promoted pork as a healthy option and, according to the National Pork Board, stemmed the decline in pork sales. This year the Pork Board is launching its new $11 million Pork: Be Inspired campaign, which aims to increase sales by targeting customers who already eat pork.

4. In response to the growing popularity of travel booking sites such as and, five airlines pooled $145 million to develop Orbitz in 2001. With its exclusive deals and appealing functionality, Orbitz quickly became one of the top three travel booking sites. After an IPO in 2003, Orbitz was acquired by Cendant Corporation for $1.25 billion in 2004.

Bottom Line: The collaborative industry marketing concept has already been tested and validated by other industries. Some of the campaigns featured above are approaching their 20th year, a testament to the results they have generated for their respective industries. We can learn from these examples to forge even more successful collaboration efforts in the service parts space.

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