Staff Writer
Sep 1, 2022

Better together: How brands can use partnerships and collaborations to push boundaries

Marketing leaders at DBS, Spotify and Twitter share their thoughts on how out-of-the-box partnerships can bring about great things.

(from left) Preetha Athrey, marketing director for APAC, Twitter; Karen Ngui, head of group strategic marketing and communications, DBS; Jan-Paul Jeffrey, head of marketing, SEA, Spotify
(from left) Preetha Athrey, marketing director for APAC, Twitter; Karen Ngui, head of group strategic marketing and communications, DBS; Jan-Paul Jeffrey, head of marketing, SEA, Spotify
PARTNER CONTENT
This is part of an article series for the Power List 2022, created in partnership with Twitter as part of their global #LeadersforGood initiative.
 
As the saying goes, it takes all sorts to make a world — and the same holds true in marketing. A good marketer knows their brand’s unique selling point inside-out, but a great one should understand where their brand could benefit from a well-chosen partner — whether a creator, platform, NGO, or fellow brand — in order to achieve bigger and better things together. Done well, partnerships and collaborations can not only expand your audience, but also allow you to change the game by shaking up the public perception of your brand and bringing more value and delight to your consumers.
 
When partners have open, honest conversations about what they bring to the table and their shared goals, they’re able to achieve more together than they would have done alone. As a platform centred around conversation, nobody knows that better than Campaign Asia-Pacific’s Power List partner, Twitter. 
 
Preetha Athrey, marketing director for APAC at Twitter, says, “Some of the most successful brand campaigns we’ve seen have been a result of partnerships or collaboration; whether it’s a partnership with another brand, agency, or key opinion leaders. Partnerships are core to our work at Twitter, internally and externally. Not only do partnerships bring a bigger impact, but they are also able to connect us closer to our customers.” 
 
We spoke with leading marketers from Spotify and DBS — both of whom are returning members on the 2022 Asia-Pacific Power List — to better understand how brands can successfully leverage partnerships, collaborations, and a good dose of ingenuity to surprise and delight audiences.
 
When it comes to choosing ‘the one,’ honesty is the best policy
 
In business, as in life, identifying the right partner is no small feat. Among other things, a successful partnership requires clear communications, shared values, and an understanding of each other’s strengths (and yes, weaknesses).
 
Karen Ngui, head of group strategic marketing and communications at DBS, likens partnerships to “any relationship,” in that a “like-minded view as to what we’re trying to achieve” is key so that they can be grounded in an “underlying sense of shared purpose.”
 
That’s not to say that brands must only work with those who are similar to them — far from it. Ngui, who has also overseen cross-sector partnerships in her capacity as a DBS Foundation board member, believes partners with “complementary differences” can bring “fresh perspectives” and ultimately drive “more effective and successful” results — provided there’s “mutual accountability.”
 
Jan-Paul Jeffrey, head of marketing for Southeast Asia at Spotify, agrees that transparency is central to fruitful partnerships. At Spotify, which typically focuses on long-term collaborations, the team ensures partners are brought along the journey as much as possible.“We share as much as we can in terms of our calendar, and […] try to understand as much as we can about each other’s businesses.” 
 
In doing so, Jeffrey says, partners can align on their joint business plans, measures of success, priorities, and pain points, engendering a mutual sense of trust. “And that’s when the magic can really happen. Because we both understand what we’re both trying to achieve, and how we can push each other to be more creative, more innovative, and delight more customers at the end of the day.”
 
Harness the power of ‘we’
 
At its core, the purpose of collaboration is to improve on what you can do alone — whether that’s through harnessing a partner platform’s technology to enhance your user experience, tapping into a media brand’s content for wider impact, or working with individual creators to reach a specific demographic.
 
Be it with labels, media agencies, or key vendors, Jeffrey calls Spotify “big believers of long-term partnerships,” which allows them to work on constantly integrating and developing its existing partnerships. “As a brand that’s focused on youth culture, we really want to be at the forefront and pushing our partners on how breakthrough or innovative they can be,” said Jeffrey. That can be as simple and ingenious as taking existing technology and using it in a fresh and innovative way.
 
Using Spotify’s long-running partnership with Twitter as an example, Jeffrey detailed how the platform’s existing features enabled them to create more innovative and interactive experiences for listeners. Using Twitter threads, Spotify Indonesia created a choose-your-own-adventure format called Scenario Threads where users could determine the way a story unfolded; at its live Spotify On Stage concert series in Thailand and Indonesia, the streamer used unique hashtags to create fan moments where fans could ask their idols questions via Twitter.
 
On Twitter itself, Athrey used the #TweetYourMagic campaign in Indonesia as an example of how partnering with beloved brands has helped the platform make a tangible difference in its users’ lives. “It was a campaign that turned the ‘Tweet your magic’ phenomenon into a multi-brand partnership to make Ramadan on Twitter a meaningful one amidst all the challenges [of the pandemic]. Not only did the campaign reach more audiences from different communities, but it also brought together well-known brands that are loved by many to inspire and empower others to do good.”
 
Similarly, Ngui espouses the benefits of using a partner’s particular skills and advantages to innovate. As part of DBS’ larger efforts to be a “different kind of bank” — one that, among other things, is more like a startup in its willingness to disrupt and adapt — the bank has recently partnered with five digital platforms in the region to offer integrated financial services to small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs).
 
For social entrepreneurship initiatives, DBS has partnered with tertiary institutions, while an ambitious sustainability initiative against food waste saw the bank team up with statutory bodies such as Singapore’s National Parks Board and National Environment Agency, as well as food delivery and restaurant reservation platforms, NGOs, and media networks.
 
“We live in a very connected world these days, so it’s important to get our content and message through collaborations with different types of partners,” said Ngui. “The right partners for the right purpose can make a huge difference, because we are very mindful of the fact that we can’t do it alone, and we need to collaborate to make a deeper and broader impact.”
 

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