Is it “gif” or “jif.” How do you say it? Few seemingly meaningless debates over how a word has sparked such a long and passionate online discussion as to how to pronounce “GIF.” Who knew it would warrant a press release?
Even after the creator of GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format), Steve Wilhite finally settled the decade long debate once and for all. When he won the Webby Award, he told the world you pronounce it “JIF,” but the debate continues in underground forums and office break rooms.
This is why it’s come as no surprise to anyone with interest in marketing that JM Smucker Company Jif peanut butter brand has teamed up with GIPHY. They are releasing special edition jars of Jif (or Gif) peanut butter.
This strategic partnership is a timely one too because March 1st marks National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day. However, partnering with Giphy may only prolong the debate over the pronunciation and is unlikely to put a lid on this decade-long madness.
So, if you’re a peanut butter lover and passionate about how you pronounce “GIFs” or “JIFs,” there is no better time (or way) to make a statement at the dinner table.
The Power of Co-Branding
There is more to this promotion than just raising awareness over the pronunciation of GIF (pronounced with a soft “g” or “j”).
This is a lesson in strategic co-branding. Co-branding is a powerful way for two or more companies to come together to cross each other’s audiences while offering a product that appeals across the board.
The release of their co-branded limited edition jar with a special label featuring both “Jif” and “Gif” is driving the internet wild.
To marketers, it’s easy to see Jif’s and GIPHY’s being a natural partnership. The GIF memes and jokes are rooted in the millennial culture and demographic, as is consuming large amounts of peanut butter.
Sure, it’s going to be a bit of an inside joke that most parents of millennials don’t get. But they’re not Jif’s prime customer. And having a joke half the population doesn’t understand is part of the fun anyway. Only the cool kids are privy to the great debate. If you have to ask what it’s all about, you may not be a cool kid. Leave it to the cool kids to worry over something so trivial.
Co-branding is happening all the time. Some partnerships are apparent, while others go almost unnoticed. This one, however, is finding exposure from the likes of CNN and the New York Times.
Other Cross-Brand Promotions That Made Sense
This isn’t the first time two brands have come together to make a perfect marriage – and take advantage of some cross-promotional momentum.
Below are a few other cross-branding partnerships that forged with some strategic planning in mind.
Starbucks and Spotify
Starbucks teamed up with Spotify back in 2015, and it was a win-win for music and coffee lovers.
As one of the original coffee shop chains to play popular music while serving up mochas and other beverages, it made sense for Spotify to curate and control their playlists.
Some of the offers they shared with each other’s audiences included issuing Starbucks reward points for Spotify users, and of course, advertising Spotify across hundreds of their coffee shops.
Apple and Hermes
With Apple releasing its iWatch, they saw an opportunity to make inroads into the men’s luxury fashion market by partnering with Hermes.
Hermes is one of the world’s most valuable luxury brands. With the iWatch reaching a very different audience to the iPhone, it was a smart move to partner with such a well-established fashion wear brand.
They created a separate product that went on sale across Hermes stores. Giving them exclusivity and intertwining Apple’s tech with Hermes’ status symbol in the fashion world.
GoPro and Red Bull
Red Bull has established itself as one of the most dynamic and successful companies when it comes to marketing.
It’s easy to forget that they are an energy drinks company, their logos can be seen everywhere from e-sports arenas to formula one cars.
Few of their partnerships made more sense than when they co-branded with GoPro. Both brands are synonymous with adrenaline, adventurous, action-packed sports.
Of all the events they’ve collaborated on, the most impressive was when Felix Baumgartner jumped from a space pod around 24 miles above the Earth’s surface, capturing every moment on his GoPro.
What’s in This for GIPHY?
Giphy has an interesting business model. They host the largest database of GIFs in the world and are effectively a search engine for users browsing or wanting to generate their own GIFs.
They can’t generate revenue from licensing or selling the GIFs on their site as they don’t own the rights to the images used.
Instead, in recent years they have started forming partnerships like this one with Jif. Details of the partnerships are not released, but we have to assume it works similar to other advertising campaigns.
Giphy can give brands huge exposure online. Both with animated GIFs, and by promoting brands to users of their site.
If you go to Giphy right now, you can see all the Jif GIFs and embed them on your own site.
At the time of writing this, they’ve had more than 132 million views!
What’s in This for Jif?
Jif’s side of the deal is simple; they want to sell more peanut butter.
It’ll be a while before we know how lucrative this partnership has been for them. But with more than 132 million views of Jif-related GIFs and social media buzz that’s swarming around this story, I can imagine there are some marketing exec’s patting each other on the back over at Jif HQ.
The forgotten fact in the history of the Jif or Gif argument is that we’ve heard from the creator’s mouth how to pronounce it correctly.
So, while does it feel like we’re still going to be debating it long after the Gif peanut butter labels have returned to Jif?
I’ll think about it while enjoying a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on March 1st.
Co-branding isn’t the only way to gain recognition. Just ask Burger King.