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As Sway Group’s Chief Revenue Officer, I’ve worked with countless brand ad campaigns over the years, but one of the very first programs still sticks in my mind. It was a co-op influencer activation, launched by a well-known chicken nugget product and a ranch dressing brand. The two companies had come up with a promotion centered around the “Big Game” (Super Bowl timing), positioning the nuggets and ranch as the perfect combo for easy snacking while viewing.

Cooperative (co-op) advertising was familiar to me because of my background in broadcast television sales — but I’ve since learned co-op advertising is a lesser-used strategy for influencer marketing campaigns.

In my opinion, today’s brands are truly missing out by not combining forces in their social media marketing strategies.

What is Co-Op Advertising?

Cooperative (co-op) advertising is a strategy where product manufacturers or distributors pay a portion of advertising costs for a retailer to advertise their products.

Essentially, this approach involves numerous brands coming together to create a mutually advantageous campaign that appeals to potential customers. Manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers often provide retailer merchants with assistance in advertising their products.

Consider Coca-Cola and McDonald’s: their co-op advertising has been linking these two brands together for years. Another famous example is the 90’s era ‘Intel Inside Program’ which boosted computer sales that included the Intel chip. More recently, Starbucks and Spotify’s partnership shows their unique approach to co-marketing.
A co-op advertising example image with a desk that has a laptop computer with Spotify showing on the screen, a phone with the Spotify logo and a Starbucks cup.

How Does Co-Op Advertising Work with Influencer Marketing?

Cooperative influencer marketing might involve a manufacturer sharing the costs with a retailer for a campaign that uses influencers to spread the word and drive end sales that benefit both parties.

Cooperative advertising and influencer marketing are two highly effective strategies that businesses can use to reach new audiences and drive sales. By combining these two approaches into one powerful outreach effort focused on social media platforms, brands can achieve even greater success.

Some examples of potential co-op campaigns:

  • A fitness equipment manufacturer and a fitness influencer collaborating to have the influencer create short, shareable workout videos using the equipment
  • A fashion brand and a beauty brand teaming up to sponsor a TikTok beauty influencer’s “get ready with me” post, featuring clothing and makeup from both brands.
  • A travel agency and a hotel chain joining forces to have a travel influencer create a vlog series about their experience staying at the hotel and enjoying the agency’s white-glove services
  • A home appliances company and a home improvement retailer collaborating to have a lifestyle influencer share video that showcases their kitchen remodel using appliances from the first brand and DIY assistance from the retailer
  • An outdoor gear manufacturer and a camping retailer brand partnering with an outdoor influencer to share personal stories from their camping experiences using gear from the manufacturer

Many manufacturers have a set amount of cooperative advertising funds available per year, often distributed as opportunities for collaboration arise. As influencer marketing continues to prove its worth when it comes to reaching today’s potential customers, it seems to me that more brands should be actively pursuing these opportunities — or risk leaving money (and potential sales!) on the table.
Desk with laptop computer and camera lenses.

Benefits of Using Influencers for Co-Op Programs

By pooling resources and combining marketing tools, businesses can reach a larger audience and greatly expand their customer base. Cooperative advertising can be far more cost-effective than traditional forms of advertising, since the cost is shared among the businesses involved.

There are plenty of benefits to partnering with influential content creators on a co-op campaign, including:

  • Increased Reach: Influencers have a large and engaged following on social media, which can help businesses reach new audiences and expand their customer base.
  • Credibility: Influencers are seen as trustworthy and credible by their followers, which can help businesses establish trust and credibility with their target audience.
  • Authenticity: Influencers are often known for their creative, authentic, and relatable content that can help brands connect with their target audience on a personal level.
  • Increased Engagement: Influencer campaigns often drive higher engagement rates than traditional forms of advertising, leading to increased brand loyalty and customer retention.
  • Flexibility: Influencer campaigns can be tailored to specific goals and objectives, making them highly customizable and flexible. This allows businesses to create campaigns that are tailored to their specific needs and budget.
  • Brand Awareness: Influencer marketing can help increase brand awareness and make the brand more visible to the target audience.
  • Measurable Results: Influencer campaigns can be tracked and measured, allowing businesses to see the impact of their investment in real-time and adjust the strategy accordingly.
  • Increased conversion: Sponsored influencer posts can lead to higher conversion rates, as the audience is more likely to trust and act upon the recommendation from a person they trust and follow.

Combining the reach and credibility of influencers with the cost-effectiveness and flexibility of cooperative advertising helps pave the way for today’s brands to create highly effective campaigns (that connect with their target audience on a personal level) while driving measurable results.

Whether you’re looking to increase brand awareness, drive conversions, or boost customer engagement, influencer marketing and cooperative advertising is sure to be a winning combined strategy for success in 2023.

Talk to us today about our co-op expertise, or to request a custom proposal — we’d love to share our best creative ideas with you!

Mandy Anderson, Chief Revenue Officer at Sway Group, draws from her extensive background in sales and management to help brands execute and exceed their influencer marketing goals.