Some brand partnerships make immediate sense. Healthy and fit Jennifer Aniston and Smart Water. Cool, rich Diddy and Cîroc. Others, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Ugg, for example, make less sense the more you think about them. When blended scotch whiskey brand Dewar’s forged a relationship in 2011 with TED of the high-minded TED talks TED, you might think this too was a bit of an odd couple. But two years and two successful collaborations later, and the Spirits brand and the “Ideas Worth Spreading” nonprofit seem to be a great fit and in it for the long haul. Dewar’s announced last year a new, three-year commitment by both to continue working together on projects like the Dewar’s Hub, a digital installation introduced last February in Long Beach, CA. What the Hub does is essentially link social media accounts into a comprehensive, self-updating or “conscious” graphic. The installation, which displayed all TED social media interactions — captured via designated hashtags — served as a visual time sheet of all the attendees’ thoughts and interactions, updated in real-time throughout the course of the conference.
For a brand that earned among the lowest Digital IQs in our recently released Digital IQ Index: Spirits study (Dewar’s was one of only 13 ‘Feeble’ brands), the Dewar’s Hub was a well-integrated multi-platform initiative: The @dewarshub Twitter feed proposed topics (via @ replies, the account received more than 300 attendee suggestions during the conference’s final two days); the main @dewarswhisky account live- Tweeted the entire conference, building traffic to the Dewar’s Hub with hundreds of Tweets using the #TED hashtag while also directing social traffic to the @dewarshub account. On Facebook, the Dewar’s page contributed to the campaign with regular multimedia posts about the partnership and the Dewar’s Hub project; five videos were posted on the brand’s YouTube channel, generating more than 3,500 views in all.
Partnering with such a well-respected intellectual institution and launching an ambitious cross-platform social media effort to promote the partnership is a step in the right direction for a brand like Dewar’s that needs to attract a new, younger generation of fans. To move up in the rankings to at least earn a berth in the Challenged category in next year’s study, however, will require more consistent investment in both Site and Digital Marketing. Regardless, the Dewar’s-TED partnership is one of the most original we looked at in this study, and we look forward to seeing more of their collaborations in the future.