I love to show brand partnerships in the best possible light and the new Sony Ericsson Billabong brand partnership is a very cool partnership that works on many different levels, even if it is very one sided with Billabong doing very little apart from giving their brand endorsement and some content. Sony Ericsson recently announced an expanded global strategic alliance with Billabong. This follows the successful collaboration with the Sony Vaio and the launch of the “Imperial Lime.” The laptop is pretty much the same as a normal Vaoi specs wise, but comes preloaded with Billabong content like pictures and video. The mobile partnership goes a step further. At the center of the mobile partnership is the Xperia active Billabong Edition smartphones designed with extreme sports enthusiasts in mind, a perfect fit when it comes to lifestyle, brand image and audience targeting. The Xperia active Billabong edition is a cool smartphone for extreme sports enthusiasts who can take it along on their extreme sports journeys. Sony claim it’s scratch-resistant and packed with technologies such as wet finger tracking. It apparently has received some of the highest marks in dustproof and water resistance categories from critics, so says the PR…..
Sony are leading the product positioning by getting some of the of the Billabong endorsee athletes at major international events to test the Xperia active device in conditions as diverse as the snowfields in Austria, surfing the big waves of Tahiti and even skateboarding here in Singapore. Wisely the partnership extends beyond the Xperia active as Sony Ericsson and Billabong have also co-created exclusive content for additional Xperia devices. The Xperia active Billabong Edition will feature preloaded Billabong screenscavers, videos and Billabong LIVE, a mobile app now available in the Sony Ericsson channel in Android Market, and the Xperia PLAY will boast an exclusive surf game, Billabong Surf Trip. Effectively Sony are ensuring that many Sony mobile customers get exposed to the brand partnership and gain some benefits which of course benefits Billabong too.
Billabong in turn will feature Sony Ericsson Xperia smartphones in major events worldwide which does appear as though Sony are doing all the work here. Sony Ericsson has more to offer its retailer and operator partners with assets, such as merchandise and event access, which will be used in retail promotions which will aggressively exploit the brand partnership to their potential and actual customers. What would have made the brand partnership even better would have been marketing in all Billabong stores across the Asia Pac region and globally. That would have really hammered the brand partnership home in money can’t buy customer communication channels and opened up the Billabong audience to the Sony connection. After all mobile and Sony customers know all about Sony but Billabong customers may not all know about the Billabong Sony mobile so why no extend the partnership logically into Billabong channels from facebook to stores, on line to CRM and tell Billabong customers about the new associated product that they could be seen with? A missed trick to an otherwise great brand partnership.