When iconic brands decide to collaborate on a licensing deal – Adidas with Diesel, or Nike with Levi’s – is it a marriage made in heaven?
Admittedly these two tie-ups are not strictly licensing deals in the true sense of the word. They are more co-branding, along the lines of Tommy Hilfiger and Ferrari, or Penfield and Maharishi. Co-branding provides a synergy of one plus one equalling a greater number. When two iconic brands collaborate, each brand benefits from the association with the other.
Adidas has consistently retained its stylish sports status by associations with designers Stella McCartney, Yohji Yamamoto and now Diesel. Diesel achieves its brand extension through associating itself with a cool sports brand. There will only be two styles in the Diesel-Adidas range for men and women.
The Nike-Levi’s association under the 23/501 brand marries two iconic numbers: 23 was US basketball hero Michael Jordan’s jersey number when he played for the Chicago Bulls and is arguably the most famous number in the sports world (it’s no coincidence that David Beckham chose it when playing for Real Madrid); while Levi’s 501 style is the world’s highest selling and most iconic jean.
The Nike-Levi’s deal will be a specially packaged limited edition of 2,323 23/501 sets, which include a T-shirt, a pair of gold zipper 501s and a pair of Air Jordan trainers.
They will be instantly collectible, with both brands benefiting from the dual iconic status. It is a marriage of two authentic US brands, both leaders in their respective fields.
When striking these deals it is essential that there is a meshing of corporate cultures, a common vision of brand values and a mutual respect of protecting the brands’ integrity.
So yes, partnerships like these can lead to a happy marriage. If correctly structured, these collaborations can glean great PR value, giving an established brand a new aura of credibility that reflects back to the total product line.
Marshall Lester is chief executive of ML Marketing, a transatlantic brand management consultancy