Putting Our Beefs Aside

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It was bound to happen eventually- with the expansion of brand collaborations and ‘capsule’ collections, why not simply merge the products of two competing brands? In order to celebrate the International Day of Peace on September 21st, one imagined proposal put social media into a frenzy: the creation of a “McWhopper”, the perfect hybrid of two star burgers. Burger King’s proposal was immediately turned down by McDonald’s, and the project never got off the ground. But it was enough to get us thinking of countless possibilities. In a shoe utopia for example, Stan Max (Stan Smith + Air Max) would only be a step away.

While brand execs may feel like they are walking on a tightrope with a small room for failure, what have they really got to lose? Sometimes sworn enemies can benefit from a joint decision to bury the hatchet…Why not create a product launched simultaneously by two different and competing brands, based on both their iconic trademarks? Imagine a smartphone conceived jointly by Apple and Samsung. A yogurt blended by Dannon and Yoplait. A car with the influences of both Opel and Renault.

Of course, the product would have to be available for a limited time only. It would be a ‘balanced’ product, where each brand would be clearly present and could express its own savoir-faire. It would be a ‘marketing punch’ of sorts, that could throw consumers off balance, who are always looking for ways to be surprised. It would also give brands an opportunity to get people talking, and to change perceptions about the specific brand and its market. The way we see it, the qualities and values of both brands combined that could produce the ‘best of the best’.

In an increasingly complex marketing landscape, the idea of direct rivals is less descriptive of concurrent brands than ever before. Left/Right is no longer a cut-and-dry political stance. Modern vs. traditional have stopped opposing one another, but have instead reinvented aesthetic market codes. Industrial is no longer the contrary of natural, and the list goes on.

So what are rival brands waiting for to put their beefs aside for the sake of creative collaboration?

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Hipster Business Model

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If there is any truth to the adage that there is a time and place for everything, look no further than the excitement of an art exposition or the success of a film. We can no longer ignore that ‘hipster’ chic is almost like an exposition in itself, a fashion style found in department stores everywhere. These fashions are inspired by the hipsters we love to hate, the small community that we thought were reduced to flannel-wearing Brooklynites. How did they manage to thrive on organic food, live eco-friendly, get around easily on bikes, and also become ‘iconic’, to the point of now being present in every town in the world?

Without a doubt, it’s because they are responding to this urge and curiosity among millennials to look for life changes. Changing your life can mean changing careers or towns, but also, more simply, changing how we present ourselves. This type of change is affordable for all – a shirt, an arm tattoo, a pair of sunglasses, a beard, and voilà- it’s a change big enough to feel like a new person.

But the appeal of the hipster attitude doesn’t stop there. They also embody a new way of working. A ‘hipster business model’ is characterized by the desire to make things by yourself (we also call them ‘makers’), to work with friends, and to live a shared experience (often in an old studio), in which the focus on financial profit is secondary. Who would be against that? These ideals tend to resurface throughout various moments in history, mostly during periods of social unrest and dissatisfaction.

Hipsters have always known the importance of locally-grown food and ethnical/organic considerations in producing goods. This organic movement corresponds exactly to the trend at the moment. With this new aesthetic, and a new relationship between work and food, hipsters have gained the upperhand. They have presented a new way to look at business. A business that is pretty rad, but business nonetheless.

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