To stand out amongst the fray, big corporations often have to get crafty with their marketing portfolios. As a result, there have been some interesting brand partnerships between companies that seem to have nothing in common. Take, for instance, the special-edition Range Rover Evoque designed by Victoria Beckham. It’s a prime example of when one industry (i.e. high fashion) markets itself through the automotive industry.
Often, these collaborations result in little more than blingy showpieces or exclusive limited edition models that have an insignificant impact on sales. Yet, plenty of cars with co-branded trim levels have experienced real commercial success. Here are seven of the best co-branding exercises in the automotive industry.
Peugeot and Lacoste are among France’s most recognized brands around the world. Yet, it seemed somewhat unusual for the high-end clothing manufacturer to put its logo on a cheap Peugeot 205. But that didn’t stop the two companies from joining forces, and Peugeot sold around 27,000 205 Lacoste editions between 1984 and 1986.
Although Lacoste is well-known for its tennis apparel, there was nothing particularly sporty about the 59bhp produced by the 205 Lacoste. But it did come with a special white paint scheme, an exclusive interior fabric pattern, and green carpeting. And plenty of Lacoste crocodile logos, of course.
To commemorate the wildly popular first-person shooter video game, Jeep conceived the Wrangler Call of Duty: Black Ops edition in 2011. It was little more than a military-themed version of the Rubicon package, but it nonetheless proved to be a hit on the sales floor. In fact, it was so successful that the Wrangler was offered with a Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 special edition just one year later.
The Chevrolet Venture was a humble minivan which desperately lacked any entertaining characteristics. Maybe that’s why in 1999, GM decided to partner with one of Hollywood’s ‘Big Six’ entertainment companies to produce the Venture Warner Bros. Edition for the 2000 model year. To keep the kids amused in the rear seats, the Warner Bros. Edition was equipped with a built-in TV connected to a built-in DVD and VCR system. As a bonus, it also came with several compilations of Looney Tunes cartoons.
Unfortunately, Bugs Bunny couldn’t do anything to address the Venture’s terrible driving dynamics, so the WB Venture wasn’t exactly entertainment for the whole family. Nevertheless, it enjoyed respectable sales from 2000 until Chevrolet said “That’s All, Folks!” to the WB Edition in 2003.
If you think about it, the idea of Subaru joining forces with Maine-based clothing company L.L. Bean makes perfect sense. L.L. Bean is well-known for their outdoor gear and rugged attire, and their products appeal to the same clientele that love the wilderness-ready Subaru Outback and Forester models.
From 2000, the most luxurious trim level for the Outback and Forester in the North American market was the L.L. Bean Edition. Not surprisingly, it was successful among the outdoorsy Subaru faithful. However, with Subaru trying to establish itself as more of a mainstream manufacturer, the two companies decided to part ways in 2008.
Although the American Motors Corporation (AMC) has been dead for over thirty years, they had some very high-profile connections with designer brands in the 1970s. Pierre Cardin, Oleg Cassini and Gucci all collaborated with AMC to produce special edition models for the carmaker. However, their most successful collaboration was arguably with denim giant Levi Strauss.
Naturally, the Levi’s Edition package in the AMC Gremlin, Hornet and Pacer featured a blue cloth interior with copper rivets and white stitching to make it look like a pair of blue jeans. However, AMC couldn’t actually use Levi’s cotton denim for fabric material because it didn’t meet fire safety standards. Nonetheless, AMC was able to take advantage of the rising denim craze with decent sales of Levi’s Edition AMCs from 1973 to 1974.
Throughout the 1970s and the 1980s, Lincoln had a number of collaborations with top designer brands. Bill Blass, Emilio Pucci, Givenchy, Valentino and Versace all lent their names to the ‘Designer Series’ versions of various Lincoln models. There was even a Signature Series named after golf superstar Jack Nicklaus.
However, the most successful Designer Series model was the Cartier Edition. Lincoln’s partnership with the French jewelry icon lasted for over 30 years, ranging from the 1969 Continental Mark III to the 2003 Town Car. In addition to Cartier badging and insignias, some Cartier Edition models were even equipped with Cartier interior clocks!
In terms of commercial success, the greatest co-branding exercise in the automotive industry is easily that of Ford and Seattle-based clothing manufacturer Eddie Bauer. Like Subaru did with L.L. Bean, Ford believed that Eddie Bauer’s reputation for making durable, adventure-ready clothing would make them a great brand partner for a luxury trim package on its 4x4 vehicles.
It all started in 1985, when Ford offered the Eddie Bauer trim for the first time on the Bronco. Eventually, it would become available on the Explorer, Expedition, Taurus X and even the Aerostar minivan. Easily identified by gold-coloured lower fascia, the Eddie Bauer package was offered on various Ford SUVs for 25 years. With millions of vehicles being produced until 2010, the partnership between Ford and Eddie Bauer easily became the most iconic co-branding exercise in the automotive industry.