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To co-brand or not to co-brand? Recent trends indicate a semi-seismic shift.

J.Crew recently released their first foray into broadcast advertising with a new TV spot that’s high on holiday sentiment with a clever co-branding twist. The spot shows a lovely little all-American family making the all-important decision about what their annual family holiday card portrait will be (albeit, in a far more glamorous way than I ever remember as a kid). You can (and should) watch the painfully heartfelt spot here. Fair warning though: be prepared to feel bad about any holiday card you have ever been in. Ever.

What’s interesting, and in true Jenna Lyons form, is that the ad doesn’t actually plug J.Crew until the very end, and it’s positioned as more of a spot for MasterCard – a J.Crew partner procured to help simplify the buying process this holiday season. Looks like we know who paid the bulk of this production bill. No doubt this seems to be an emerging trend in retail marketing – big brands are getting even bigger by finding the right complimentary products to pair with their offerings. Any recent retail partnership can attest to that — Duluth Pack + Faribault Woolen MillsH&M + any high-end designerNike + bluesign. Every one of these partnerships not only opens up a new audience for both brands, but also increases the value of their products to consumers as they ride each other’s coattails into the hearts and minds of consumers. Brands are looking outward and hunting down the right partners to propel themselves forward. Are you?

The trick is doing your due diligence and soundly determining who should be your date. Think hard and think fast. And if you like it, put a ring on it. Might be a marriage made in heaven. No pre-nup.

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