For the most part, retail partnerships operate under the principle of quid pro quo. Ideal altruism is in short supply in the dog-eat-dog world of commerce whether it happens online or off, which means both sides in a deal are usually looking to get something out of the other that they may or may not necessarily want to part with.
For some merchants in this week’s Retail Bedfellows Roundup, that tradeoff is obvious.
But for Kanye West, it was a Yeezy decision.
All Day Kanye Dreams About Adidas
Adidas is no stranger to high-profile partnerships with celebrity athletes. Its heavy presence in European football leagues all but guarantees relationships with a handful of the world’s best players. But even though Adidas is primarily in the business of selling sports-focused gear, the rise of athleisure culture may have pushed it to sign a deal with a different sort of partner.
Adidas announced Wednesday (June 29) that it had finalized a deal with Kanye West that will establish not just a sneaker or shirt line with the rapper’s name on it but rather “a YEEZY branded entity creating footwear, apparel and accessories for all genders across street and sport.” Kanye and Adidas had previously worked together on a line of branded footwear, but this deal will reportedly involve everything from several lines of product manufacturing to the opening of storefronts co-branded between the two parties.
“Kanye is a true creator who has the ability to see things others don’t,” said Eric Liedtke, executive board member at Adidas in charge of global brands, in a statement. “We are excited and honored to build on this partnership, and eagerly look forward to defining the future together.”
Casper Goes Offline
In yet another addition to the “Things That Could Never Have Been Sold Online 10 Years Ago” file, buying mattresses online has become a veritable cottage industry despite the obvious roadblocks. Casper has been at the forefront of the push, with a generous return policy and free delivery to help hesitant buyers make it over the hump. By all accounts, its online-only model has worked as well as Casper could have hoped but, apparently, it’s not enough.
Casper announced Wednesday (July 6) that it had signed an exclusive partnership with brick-and-mortar home furnishings merchant West Elm to showcase its one-of-a-kind mattress in the brand’s physical storefronts. This would be the first time in Casper’s history since launching in 2014 where one of its products would be available in a physical store, and Casper CEO Philip Krim believes the time is right to make the leap across channels.
“Demand for Casper has been overwhelming,” Krim said in a statement. “Casper.com is crucially important for interacting with our customers, but we’ve found that people love to experience Casper in person as well. It’s an incredible opportunity to build upon that demand with West Elm, a partner with a national reputation for great design and innovative partnerships.”
West Elm may get the better end of this deal. Without having to worry about sales, its stores get the added attraction of one of the most talked-about home furnishing products in years. That has to do wonders for foot traffic, as long as it takes its shoes off before climbing into bed.
Olympic Sponsors Play Well With Others
While the official spirit of the Olympic Games is one of camaraderie and international cooperation, the same can’t be said for the rules governing who can and can’t advertise with athletes during competitions. This has caused some friction over the years with the Olympians themselves, who find themselves in the difficult position every four years of having to ditch the sponsors that supported them during training in favor of exclusive partners mandated by long-ago signed contracts.
However, The New York Times is reporting that the International Olympic Committee issued an amendment to its sponsorship rules several months ago that let nonofficial sponsors design campaigns for use during the Rio games. Interested brands had to apply for approval by January and begin campaigns by March, though they were still restricted from using overtly Olympic imagery and language, including the words “Rio,” “gold” and “summer” in certain contexts.
While it might not be everything non-exclusive sponsors hoped for, Under Armour, Red Bull, Gatorade and General Mills have all gotten their own campaigns underway.
However, according to some experts like sports law professor John Grady of the University of South Carolina, this type of “sanctioned ambush marketing” may do more to rankle the IOC’s old partners that it will to help their new ones.
“Essentially [the new sponsors] received the same benefit that they didn’t pay for,” Grady told The NYT. “There are definite fairness issues here.”