18.05.2016 Five promotional tie-ins that missed the mark

Sometimes brands decide they need an extra hand to help sell whatever it is they are offering in the form of a celebrity endorsement or a promotional tie-in.

The success of these ventures depends on a number of factors, but the main consideration before deciding to proceed should be whether the brands and personalities are a good ‘fit’ for each other.

If they are not, the whole effort risks confusion and even derision among the audiences the brands are trying to reach.

Unfortunately, many brands fail to heed this advice, so here are five recent promotional tie-ins that missed the mark:


Halifax and Top Cat (2016)

Top cat

“Psst…wanna buy a mortgage?”

UK bank Halifax has recently started offering mortgages to first-time buyers with the help of the Hanna-Barbera character Top Cat.

Putting aside the question of how many first-time buyers will even be familiar with a cartoon cat from the 1960s, the tie-in itself makes little sense when you start to think about it.

After all, Top Cat lived in a bin and spent his life conning people. Would you trust him to sell you a mortgage?


Subway and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

Subway“Just hurry up and order Katniss, I’m hungry.”

Blockbuster movies are always attractive to brands; whether it’s a product placement or a promotional tie-in a commercial relationship with a big movie is almost guaranteed to boost sales.

In 2013 fast food chain Subway must have thought a tie-in with the latest Hunger Games movie was a ‘no-brainer’ (as another brand ambassador is fond of saying).

If brains had been involved in the process they might have questioned whether a movie about inequality and food shortages was the best vehicle for selling sandwiches.


Mazda and The Lorax (2012)


 “Let’s all join hands and speak for the SUVs…”

Dr Seuss’s 1971 children’s tale The Lorax delivers a strong environmental message, with a titular character who “speaks for the trees.”

When Universal Studios brought the character to life on the big screen in 2012, it produced a movie that was mostly faithful to the source material.

But one promotional tie-in was definitely not faithful to Dr Seuss’s favourite story. Among the film’s 70 advertising partnerships was a cross-promotion with Mazda, who produced an advert boasting that its new CX-5 sports utility vehicle was “Lorax approved”.

Mazda was roundly criticised on social media and in news outlets for “hijacking” the Lorax’s eco-friendly message.


Heineken and James Bond (1997 – )

“Shaken or stirred Mr Bond?” “Er, neither. I don’t want it to fizz up and go all over the bar…”

James Bond is synonymous with the glamorous side of spying – beautiful women, exotic locations, tuxedos, Aston Martins and of course, vodka martinis.

So when Dutch beer giant Heineken first announced a promotional tie-in with the Pierce Brosnan James Bond film  Tomorrow Never Dies in 1997, a few eyebrows were raised.

Somehow the association has lasted through seven James Bond films, right up to the latest instalment of the franchise, 2015’s Spectre.

But that doesn’t mean it’s any less odd to see Bond drinking bottled beer.


Lego and Shell

Lego shell

“Everything is awesome. No, really.”

Danish toy brand Lego had a promotional partnership with oil giant Shell dating back to the 1960s, which saw many Shell-branded Lego sets produced and Lego products sold at Shell petrol stations in more than 20 countries.

In 2014 Lego came under intense pressure from Greenpeace to end the relationship amid the environmental group’s campaign against Shell’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic.

Greenpeace said a company that prides itself on its green credentials should have nothing to do with a fossil fuel company.

Although Lego initially resisted the calls, it eventually announced it would not renew its relationship with Shell.

What promotional tie-ins do you think have missed the mark? Let us know @Brightercomms