Lessons from Lamar Odom on the pitfalls of co-branding.

By Amber Hudson

They should call it B.K. and A.K. for Before Kardashian and After Kardashian.

B.K.: Lamar Odom played 12 seasons with the LA Lakers, winning the NBA’s “6th Man” Award. He’s known as being one of the nice guys: incredibly loyal, generous, a “sweet soul” with any ego kept firmly in check.

A.K.: Odom gets sucked into the Kardashian vortex, marrying Khloe.   His life is displayed on reality TV through The Khloe & Lamar Show. His basketball starts to suffer. He continues to struggle with substance abuse. Then he’s found unconscious in a brothel.

Sigh…

This is a cautionary tale for marketers seeking to co-brand. Yes, it can work beautifully. Look at Tim Horton’s and their Nutella pockets, Coors Light and Maxim magazine from a few years ago, Taco Bell and Doritos, Red Bull and GoPro, MAC and Lady Gaga, Nike and Michael Jordan.

The flip side is what happened to Lamar and Khloe. Or (let me walk out into left field here) Lego and Shell. Lego decided to end their partnership with Shell after pressure from Greenpeace that a toy company should not partner with a mega oil corporation. For brands like Lamar and Lego the message is be careful you who you get into bed with as the other brand can easily hijack your brand’s narrative, dragging it into their world, the good, the bad and the very ugly.  But for brands like Khloe and Shell, they get what they want: Shell taps into family values making them seem more approachable; Khloe leverages the excitement and drama of NBA life…perfect fodder for the Kardashian reality TV empire.

The solution is to find a co-brand that shares your values and establish a “halo of affection” that works for both sides.

From the start Odom provided the fodder Khloe needed to keep her name in the headlines. And what has he gotten out of it? Let’s just say we hope he recovers quickly in a new era A.K.