It’s time for another edition of the Post Performance Report (PPR), a series where we showcase social media posts and campaigns inspiring us, and explore what makes them so genius. We unpack how your brand can use these examples to spark your own scroll-stopping ideas—while maximizing your budget and doing more with less.

Brand partnerships aren’t new. They’ve been part of marketers’ playbooks since the early days of advertising, and have only grown in popularity (among brands and consumers) since then. But social media has added a new dimension to co-marketing and co-branding efforts, fueled by voice-of-customer data. With the help of social listening, brands can find out who people wish they’d partner with or even unexpected ways another brand complements their customer experience. The result: delighted audiences, increased brand affinity and business growth.

Let’s dive into our lineup of brands who have perfected partnerships (on social and beyond), and takeaways you can use to find your next collaborator.

Scrub Daddy x Dunkin: America runs on donuts

For this National Donut Day, Scrub Daddy and Dunkin dropped a line of donut-shaped sponges, and their fans went wild.

Scrub Daddy's TikTok video of someone glazing a tray of donut-shaped sponges.

Scrub Daddy and Dunkin are no strangers to successful brand partnerships. Yet, this collab seems destined for virality. As the press release announcing the partnership points out, a witty exchange between the brands on social put this entire relationship in motion. And fans had been hoping for years that something like this would drop.

The comment section of a TikTok video from 2021 where fans are begging Dunkin and Scrub Daddy to collab

When these two internet darlings announced their partnership, other brands even heralded it as the partnership of the year.

A comment on Scrub Daddy and Dunkin's TikTok video from Ulta Beauty heralding it as the brand collab as the year

The brands promoted the launch on social by glazing their donut-shaped sponges, hosting a dance party for their mascots, cleaning up sprinkles and more. Every post’s comment section is filled with emphatic praise.

The comment section of Dunkin's TikTok video announcing the Scrub Daddy collab filled with praise for the brands

Just one day after publishing, the brand’s posts received more than 260,000 combined views on TikTok and 70,000 likes on Instagram. According to Sprout Social Listening data from June 3-4, 2024, the sentiment surrounding these brands on X (formerly Twitter) was 98% positive.

The play: Your brand’s fans tell you what they want—in your comments section, other brands’ comment sections and random threads. The challenge is collecting and analyzing this consumer data, then deciding which feedback to prioritize and when. This partnership proves an eagerly awaited collaboration is the perfect way to revitalize one of your brand’s ongoing campaigns or yearly traditions (like National Donut Day).

For Scrub Daddy, the collaboration gave them a reason to enter the chat during the hashtag holiday. On Dunkin’s part, they’ve already given away so many free donuts, it’s become a Donut Day expectation. This partnership was fresh and memorable.

Busch Light x Crocs: Creating a buzz among mutual fans

When it comes to successful co-branding, Crocs takes the crown. They are the go-to-partner for nostalgic cereal brands, sponges who live in a pineapple under the sea, purple dinosaurs and everything in between. While many of Crocs’ partnerships are typically with kid-friendly brands, their latest collab takes 21+ consumers from sport mode to party hard mode.

The Busch Light x Crocs collection features comfortable footwear designed for those who enjoy both an outdoor adventure and cracking open a cold one.

Crocs' Instagram photo featuring Busch Light crocs stylized in a cooler

People have been talking about day-drinking in their Crocs on the internet for years, and that’s what makes this collaboration so effective. It’s clear Crocs took notice of when, where and why adult members of their audience were wearing their shoes, and built a partnership around an existing behavior.

A TikTok video of a Busch Light drinker slipping on Crocs to day drink

For Busch Light, partnering with Crocs was an impactful way to tap into the footwear company’s fandom and tie-in their brand ethos: heading to the mountains (or at least enjoying the great outdoors). They even hosted a giveaway where fans could win a free pair of the shoes if they submitted a photo of themselves camping.

A Busch Light Instagram video explaining their giveaway where fans can win a pair of co-branded Crocs by camping

The reaction to this drop was overwhelmingly positive. Fans were overjoyed, and flooded social with their enthusiasm. According to Sprout Listening data from May 4-June 3, 2024, mentions of Crocs and Busch Light had a 98% positive sentiment rate on X.

A video of a fan sharing praise and excitement for the new Crocs and Busch Light collection

The play: Understanding how people use your product (whether it’s intended or not) can help you find the best brand partners and craft relevant content. This duo demonstrates that brand partnerships can feel simultaneously unexpected and utilitarian.

Outdoor Afro Inc. x REI: Creating gear for everyone

For the past two years, Outdoor Afro Inc. and REI have had an ongoing partnership where they create collections of outdoor gear working with and for the Black community. Their most recent products drops feature truer fits, celebratory colors and materials that complement more textured hair.

An Instagram post from Outdoor Afro Inc announcing their new silk pillow from their latest REI drop

On social, the brands promote this partnership by sharing posts from Black creators exploring the outdoors (using their products) and feature a diverse variety of people demonstrating why their gear is so unique. They also answer questions about their co-guided adventure trips and highlight co-hosted events.

An Instagram Reel from creator Hey Candace using the Outdoor Afro and REi products for outdoor adventures

The partnership helps Outdoor Afro Inc. broaden its reach. For example, the Reel REI shared about their collab garnered hundreds more engagements than the average Outdoor Afro post. On the other hand, working together enables REI to better serve a wider audience and fulfill its corporate social responsibility initiatives. By teaming up, these brands are taking significant steps toward making the outdoors a more inclusive place.

The play: Outdoor Afro is a startup with a handful of employees. REI is a multibillion-dollar company with tens of thousands of team members. Though these brands are mismatched in size, they share an intersecting mission and are stronger when they work together.

The brand partners you choose don’t need to be your equal; instead, they should enhance the work you’re doing—helping your products and social presence stand out.

Airbnb x Icons: Elevating guest experiences

From the legendary brand that gave us the Barbie Dreamhouse and Shrek’s Swamp, comes the new Icons campaign. This time, Airbnb is partnering with icons in music, film, television, art and more to bring magical experiences to their guests. From booking a stay at the Ferrari Museum to becoming a student at Xavier’s Institute for Higher Learning (aka the X-Mansion circa 1997), Airbnb is making people’s wildest dreams come true.

A Reel from Airbnb introducing their new Icons campaign and experiences

An early standout of the new campaign was the Up House (inspired by the Pixar film). Guests can really stay in the house—8,000 balloons and all—to celebrate the iconic film’s 15th anniversary.

An Instagram Reel from Airbnb unveiling the Up house

The posts featuring the Up House ballooned to 47,000 likes on Instagram and 80,000 views on TikTok. The experience is already sold out, but the story was picked up by major outlets like Time and CNN.

Praise and excitement from fans in the comments section of Airbnb's Reel about the Up house 

The play: There’s something fantastical about seeing two brands partner. Even without an Airbnb budget, leaning into whimsy and subculture can earn true brand love.

Nielsen x Goldhouse Media: Using data to reach AANHPI audiences

When you think co-branding, you typically picture the B2C space (and for good reason, there are many incredible examples, as this lineup illustrates). But co-branded data reports shouldn’t be excluded. Especially when they fill an overlooked gap in the market.

Case in point: Nielsen, a global leader in data insights, partnered with Goldhouse, a nonprofit organization that serves the AANHPI community, to create a data report entitled “Reaching Asian American Audiences.” The report highlights the purchasing power of this community and breaks down their media preferences.

An Instagram Carousel from Nielsen featuring stats from their Goldhouse co-branded data report

On social, they timed the release of the report with Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and shared data from the report in compelling visualizations. They also shared a video interview with Goldhouse CEO, Bing Chen, who interpreted the report’s findings and their implications.

An Instagram Reel from Goldhouse and Nielsen where Goldhouse's CEO is interviewed about their data report

The interview was particularly captivating to Goldhouse’s followers—they were quick to share their praise in the comments section.

The play: Asian Americans’ specific media preferences are understudied. Nielsen and Goldhouse identified this opportunity, and combined their capabilities to elevate the importance of AANHPI consumers. If you want your partnership to make an impact, find out how your products and services can fill important gaps, as Nielsen and Goldhouse masterfully demonstrated.

Gap x DÔEN: The sisterhood of linen

Dreamy, high-end Californian fashion brand of the moment meets established Americana staple. The highly anticipated Gap x DÔEN crossover event set the fashion community on social into a frenzy.

An Instagram Reel from Gap and DOEN announcing their partnership featuring the Aldridge sisters

To promote the launch, the brands partnered with the models and sisters, Lily and Ruby Aldridge. The “sisterhood” campaign theme was intentional—it references its spokespeople, is a nod to the sisters who co-founded DÔEN and is a metaphor for the relationship between the iconic fashion brands.

A TikTok video of a creator trying on clothing from the Gap and DOEN collab

On social, the promo included video interviews with the Aldridge sisters, images that were borrowed from the capsule wardrobe trend and messages from other sister duos.

A DOEN and Gap TikTok featuring sisters Levia and Zahar wearing their clothing

As of publication, many of the items in the collection are already sold out.

The play: Legacy and new-school brands are often cast as natural enemies, especially when they’re in the same industry. But they don’t need to be. Brands in the same industry can be great partners (even if they sell similar products). They key is finding a collaborator who can help you reach new audiences.

DÔEN’s price point would typically deter Gap customers. This partnership made the brand more accessible, while widening their appeal. Conversely, it made Gap’s offerings seem more premium. The art of this execution came down to promotion: working with well-known supermodels, creating high-fashion-inspired ads and finding the right influencers.

Restaurant spotlight: Fishwife x L’Appartement 4F

Tinned fish is taking over social media. So Fishwife, the tinned fish brand of Shark Tank fame, decided to takeover the menu at L’Appartement 4F, a trendy NYC French bakery and natural wine bar. They called the event, A Tuna Fish Sandwich Block Party (parfait!).

A Fishwife and L'Appartement 4 Instagram post announcing their collab

Mutual fans shared their excitement when the brands announced the co-hosted event on Instagram.

An Instagram Carousel featuring dishes served at L’Appartement 4F featuring Fish Wife tinned fish

Fishwife shared images from the event that made it clear it was a roaring success. Over 500 people attended and there was a line down the block for four hours straight. Attendees commented on the post that it was “the best day” and a “dream.”

An Instagram Carousel from Fishwife showcasing photos and videos from their takeover of the L'Appartement 4F menu.

The play: Hosting in-person events with your brand partners is a tried-and-true way to connect in meaningful, human-first ways with your shared audience. Find activations that feel authentic to both ‌your brands and the interests of your shared communities.

The right partnerships can make your brand affinity even stronger

That concludes this month’s installment of the PPR. Stay tuned for next month’s edition where we’ll be diving into the power of showcasing frontline employees on social. Until next time, remember these takeaways when looking for your brand’s next partner:

    • Post Performance Report Takeaways

      • Listen to your audience. Voice of the customer data on social enables you to identify potential (even if unexpected) collaborators and drive enthusiasm for your brand.
      • Understand your customers. You can create partnerships that feel natural and resonate with your audience by understanding how consumers use your product.
      • Fill unmet needs. Brands should identify areas where their products or services can address unmet needs and collaborate with partners to make an impact.

Looking for more on the art of partnerships? Read Sprout Social President Ryan Barretto’s guide to creating valuable brand partnerships.

And if you see a social post or campaign that deserves to be highlighted, tag us @sproutsocial and use #PostPerformanceReport to have your idea included in a future article.