Mediator backs the Power of Partnerships


By Michael Feeley, Founder and chief exec

July 16, 2015 | 5 min read

Tara Honeywell, managing director of Mediator, believes that “the context” of Partnership Marketing has shifted significantly in recent years, placing strategic collaborations firmly on to the radar of modern marketers…

Historically viewed as little more than a “tactical afterthought” by the marketing industry, Partnership Marketing has undergone a marked evolution over the past two years to become one of the most dynamic elements of the marketing mix.

So says Tara Honeywell, managing director of Mediator, an agency which specialises in creating Partnership Marketing campaigns for brands including TV channel Quest, Maxmara brand Marina Rinaldi, Whizz Kidz and Good Housekeeping.

Honeywell explains: “These days, when we think marketing partnerships, we think of how the architect Fosters is partnering the European Space Agency to design homes for the moon; or Google partnering with Johnson & Johnson to create robotic surgeons; or Ballentines partnering with street artists to create artworks you can see from space!”

Honeywell took control of Camden-based Mediator as managing director of in July 2013; a move which she firmly believes has deepened and broadened her insight into the modern business marketplace.

She tells me: “I definitely think that working as managing director has given me a more nuanced understanding of the effects of a changing landscape. A key realisation, for example, has been how the digital era has made marketing so much ‘bigger’ than it used to be: marketing now covers every aspect of a consumer's interaction with a brand.

“That shift is very relevant to our work at Mediator in that the strategic partnerships we create for brands typically are designed to meet multiple objectives. A single partnership can offer access to data, help to drive sales, open up or create new platforms for engagement and deliver content that couldn’t be achieved otherwise. In an age where the marketing department has to be all things to all people, partnerships can offer a natural tonic, providing immediate access to resources which can deliver on core business needs, without incurring the cost, time and risk of developing the relevant capabilities inhouse.”

So, has Mediator had to change as a result of this shift, I ask?

“Partnership Marketing is still our very much core discipline but the whole context around partnerships and, in turn, the way these deliver value for our clients, has changed,” says Honeywell. “Traditionally, marketing partnerships were fairly shallow in their execution, a straight exchange of assets and/or access. These days, the depth of the partnership relationship now tends to go much further as we work hard to truly engage people with experiences that authentically enhance their lives.”

The first step of any Partnership Marketing alliance, Honeywell tells me, is to select the right partner. Mediator has created its own proprietary brand matching tool, The Partnership Engine™, for this purpose, which it uses alongside YouGov Profiles, a tool that is fed from real-time data to reveal opportunities for brands to successfully collaborate. Honeywell believes that this brand-matching exercise better enables participating brands to fully embrace the activity and maximise on its return.

She says: “Since the recession, we’ve seen marketers working with lower budgets, while trying to meet the need created by digital to work in real-time. Both of these challenges have contributed to an openness and appreciation of the power of partnership marketing and what it can bring to the table, along with the emergence of a general culture of collaboration.

“Take the growth of mobile personal devices: with a plethora of data available we can now understand more than ever who is at the end of the handset, what they like and don’t like with immediate access. The problem is that not all brands have the permission to access those consumers or a good enough reason to engage with them.”

Honeywell adds: “That’s where partnerships can play a role. By working with brands, properties and people that tap into consumers’ passion points, we are able to give brands a reason to talk to consumers in a credible way. It helps brands create authentic content and enables them to deliver value that truly matters to the audience.”

However, warns Honeywell, a key aspect of successfully utilising Partnership Marketing is smoothly managing of the creative side of any collaborative campaign.

“Too often, the end execution for partnerships is not privy to the same ‘love and affection’ a more traditional brand campaign would have,” she says. “Over the years, we’ve seen brands tussle for control of the creative and the result is usually an unnecessary compromise which dilutes the creative execution. At Mediator we prioritise the importance of creative, both from an ideation and activation perspective. In turn we have our own studio that offers a unique service, ‘Co_Creative’, where we take complete control of the creative output. We work with each brand, collaboratively, to create a visual identity that holds the campaign together. We then amplify each brand through this lens so they become part of the same vision.”

This approach, argues Honeywell, delivers huge efficiencies when dealing with multiple stakeholders and also points to how Mediator will continue to evolve its own service offering in line with the shifting needs of the marketplace.

“We’ll evolve to reflect wherever our clients see value,” says Honeywell, “but our vision remains the same: to continually raise the profile and expectation of partnerships in the marketing community.”

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Mediator Ltd

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