What Happened: Aside from Instagramming artsy pictures of their food, consumers love to showcase their little critters on social media. West Elm and non-profit organization The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) came together and leveraged this trend to design a limited-edition collection of kitchen textiles and handcrafted holiday ornaments. The inspiration for the entire holiday collection came from Instagram-famous pets like “Manny the Frenchie,” dynamic duo “Kokoro & Chibi” and “Nala Cat,” who are featured in the 10-piece collection. For each West Elm x ASPCA felt ornament or tea towel purchased, West Elm will donate $1 to support the ASPCA’s efforts to help pets in need.
What This Means for Brands: This strategic partnership is an example of two brands identifying a current buzz item (Instagram-famous pets) to develop holiday merchandise that is appealing to a broad consumer base of West Elm shoppers, nonprofit supporters and animal lovers. The collaboration with the famous pets, complemented with the pet celeb owners’ social media posts, allowed the brands to gain organic (and adorable) promotional content, increase brand awareness and encourage donations. While pets are not typically at the forefront of West Elm’s product development, the retailer was able to execute an innovative seasonal campaign that appealed to a large fan base and highlighted the brand’s philanthropic endeavors and soft side. The holiday season is an especially competitive time for the retail landscape, so it is crucial for brands to come up with strategies that set them apart from the rest. West Elm created a unique opportunity through partnership that fueled the pet-obsessed fire, causing the brand to stand out and do some good along the way.