Collab Perspectives Final

Brand Collabs Are Weirder Than Ever — And We’re Here for It

by Braelyn Diamond

From Mtn Dew Flamin’ Hot to Supreme x Shrek to the Balenciaga stiletto Croc, it’s been a weird few months to say the least for brand collaborations. Like Rimowa x Chaos, some collabs are just a natural fit, while others make you wonder “where did this come from?” Yet, brand collabs are hardly new, and with a new one coming across our feed every half-second, “h0t NEw WeIRd cOLlAB” isn’t necessarily enough to stop consumers in their scrolls anymore. Collabs, sometimes literally, need that special sauce.

So we organized four that cut through the noise and caught our eye in the crowded space.

1. Most likely to give you a cheesy brain freeze

It’s cold, it’s cheesy and oh, so creamy. In July, the Brooklyn-based ice cream maker Van Leeuwen and Kraft Heinz teamed up to celebrate National Ice Cream Month and National Mac and Cheese Day with a limited-edition macaroni and cheese ice cream.

The collab managed to get trash talked on Twitter, break the internet (literally crashing the website) and quickly sell out online, all in its short time on the market ( it was so cold it returned for a second time). Although the mashup received skepticism, it came during a time when Gen Z was taking over TikTok with food pairings like watermelon and yellow mustard and Cheetos Puffs and pickles. In the heat of the summer, it was the unexpected cold treat that managed to drive consumer curiosity for what the two of the most popular comfort foods would taste like as one. Positively peaked both confusion and a sense of nostalgia, it was an added bonus that this collab was also raved about for just being freaking delicious.

KRAFT MAC CHEESE OVERSCOOPED 1
Credit: Van Leeuwen

2. Most likely to keep you cute with a cold

If there were a direct correlation between feeling and looking good, the Mucinex collab with designers Steven Allen and Christina Viviani was designed to help you do both. This limited-edition capsule collection called “Sickwear” consisted of loungewear designed with silk fabric, a zipper pocket to hold your tissues and antimicrobial properties to help battle against sickness.

As surprising as this collab was, it was equally as timely. Released just before flu season and in the middle of a pandemic, the collection sold out in just 24 hours. As the pandemic changed the lifestyle of many, and with the increase in demand for activewear and rise in utility fashion, people were looking for ways to carry their necessities with ease. Enter this collection — comfortable enough to wear while under the weather but also luxury enough to wear in place of sweats.

Mucinex fashion line 2
Credit: WWD

3. Most likely to help you find your flow

In an extra smooth collab, Ludacris teamed up with Jif to create a visual ad called “The Return”. The video begins with Ludacris struggling to find the right bars, but a spoonful of Jif Peanut Butter is all it takes to help the old school rapper find his newer flow. His new sound even gained support from rapper Gunna.

There is a conversation in culture about old hip hop and new hip hop, and new flows sounding more innovative, rather like new age rappers have spoonfuls of peanut butter in their mouth. Leaning into this internet discussion, Jif used it as an agile opportunity to jump in and help bridge the gap between the two hip hop generations by using... spoonfuls of peanut butter. TikTok users were also encouraged to get in on the fun by using #JifRapChallenge which has gained over 5 billion views. Ludacris, who considers himself a die-hard peanut butter lover since childhood, elevated this collab to one that was also organic, seamless and just too sweet to pass up.

Ludacris Jif bridge gap 2021
Credit: ADWEEK

4. Most likely to make you think "Nah he tweakin"

Tony Hawk partnered with water brand Liquid Death to sell a limited-edition run of skateboard decks painted with Hawk’s blood. Not without some eyebrow-raising from Lil Nas X, but a video later posted on social media proved there was no, ahem, bad blood between the two.

Known for its unique marketing techniques, Liquid Death took celebrity endorsements to a new level considering Hawk “sold his soul” to the brand in a binding contract. Depending on who you ask, this collab was a little bit gross, a lot a bit weird, and drove big buzz.