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4 Times Collaborations Failed

By Leo Heijbel Aug 15, 2018

Reading 1 min

At Strossle, we’re big believers in the power of collaboration—especially when it comes to publishers. Collaboration helps publishers to keep their readers and maximise their revenues. Unfortunately, however, collaboration can sometimes fail. Here are four partnerships that failed miserably.

  1. U2 + Apple

Before streaming giants like Spotify, the music industry was pulling out their hair trying to figure out how to monetize music again. Pirate downloads reached record numbers while the sales of albums plummeted at an alarming rate. In the midst of this period, U2 wanted to release their newest album. Their solution was to automatically give every person with an iPhone their new album. Said and done. Suddenly, every iPhone user—regardless of whether they wanted it or not—had U2’s latest album on their phone. However, this tactic was not well received by iPhone users and both U2 and Apple had to make public apologies afterwards.






2. Shell + Lego

This was a long partnership that started out really well and lasted for decades, until Greenpeace asked the relevant question: Should our kids really play with toys that promote a petroleum company with a number of questionable environmental practices? Greenpeace released a highly acclaimed video on the subject and the partnership ended quickly.


3. Kraft + Starbucks

Kraft had the distribution network and Starbucks had the brand. So, what could possibly go wrong when they teamed up to get the Starbucks coffee brand on supermarket shelves? Apparently everything. Sales plummeted and both companies began to blame each other for the failure of the collaboration and the costs associated with it. Their partnership ended up in the courtroom with a number a lawsuits and allegations from both sides.

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4. McDonalds + Heinz

The classic ketchup brand Heinz and the world's most eaten fries from McDonalds. It seems like a match made in heaven, right? Wrong. This collaboration actually failed on an executive level. Heinz was bought by Berkshire Hathaway and 3G. At the time, McDonalds’ biggest rival, Burger King, was also owned by 3G. When a former Burger King chief executive was named ceo of Heinz, a line was crossed for the McDonald's management. Heinz was thrown out of all the McDonalds stores.

When do collaboration fail?

Well, partnerships can be great but fragile. Everyone from owners to consumers or NGO’s might have a say on who you should or should not collaborate with. Therefore, every company—large or small—should take special care when selecting partners. Only collaborate with companies that you really trust and share a long-term view on the world with.

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