I have been thinking a lot about what Graham Brown talks about in terms of youth interaction with brands recently.
This thought process was prodded into action by the Coke Zero x Neighborhood Technical Apparel collaboration in Hong Kong.
What values do Coke Zero share with Neighborhood?
I asked myself a similar question when Hong Kong style magazine Milk did a number of collaborations with McDonalds.
I’ll be honest with you, it puzzles me no end. Can McDonald’s claim that its stylish like other brands featured in the magazine, for instance: Porter, Be@rbrick, adidas Originals and iDiom? Its not like the association with the brand association is as tightly governed as Tokyo Girls Collection’s deal with Lawson’s convenience stores in Japan. The apparently random coffee and noodles packaging is all about having a healthier lifestyle (if you are going to have junk food, stay slim with low calorie junk food).
Secondly, these cool brands exhibit a resilience that probably wouldn’t have occurred in the UK. Imagine if Fresh Jive launched an energy drink with ASDA? They don’t seem to suffer from negative brand association in these deals. The collaboration pulls the mainstream brand up in consumers eyes with no impact on the cool brand.
One explanation I have heard is that these Asian consumers look towards the US for cool. There is no doubt that brands like Neighborhood owe a lot to motorcycle culture and the beat generation, but seriously is the Big Mac that iconic, particularly with cultures that have so much tied into food?
I am sure that there are lessons for western marketers in all this, so any wisdom you may have on this is welcome!