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Garage Project shares its timely partnership with Meridian Energy and the value of collaboration

Collaborations provide more than just a new product, it provides an opportunity for two brands to leverage each other's audiences and learn new ways of promoting. StopPress editor, Courtney Devereux, spoke with Pete Gillespie, co-founder of Garage Project as to why he thinks partnerships are key to keeping the energy alive when creating new campaigns. 

Known for its out of the box partnerships, Garage Project is an example of how different brands can still align to create a new vision. For example, the brewery’s latest partnership with Meridian Energy came from Garage Project's want to become carbon-neutral, a new beer dubbed Turbine, and a perfectly timed request to the energy provider.

“Jos Ruffell, our other co-founder, contacted Meridian and asked if there was any way we could just like, plug into the turbine. As it also fits in well with our current mission to become carbon neutral… He approached [Meridian], and obviously, they were like 'no, it’s a bit more complicated than that'. But it was just perfect timing as they said to us that they loved the concept and they were just in the process of coming up with the 100 percent renewable energy mark, that they had envisioned to roll out to businesses.”

Gillespie says the idea for a partnership was perfectly timed and allowed both companies to benefit.

“Everything there just came together, we had the beer, and we suddenly had the opportunity to metaphorically plug into the turbine and have this new mark as the first business in New Zealand."

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Energy is a vital ingredient in beer. A lot of power goes into every pint. It heats the brewing water, runs the mill, brew house, chilling pumps, and packaging lines. Our choices around the energy we use and where it comes from have never been more important. ❤️ . In the windiest city in the world (Yep thats a straight up FACT), in the shadow of Wellington’s iconic Brooklyn turbine, it’s a natural choice for GP to partner with @meridianenergy, who only produce electricity from 100% renewable energy. 💨 . Introducing Turbine - brewed with a bright golden, juicy malt base, balanced with a thirst quenching bitterness and bursting with citrus and tropical hop character, it’s a beer that’s engineered to be enjoyed. Featuring a powerful (😏) hop combination of Riwaka, Galaxy, Citra and Strata. . Releasing in our first 330 ml glass six pack, and debuting @meridianenergy’s 100% renewable energy mark! . Out now in stores across NZ and online (link in Bio) 💥 . Label art by the inimitable @fayandwalter 💥 . Music credit @thephoenixfoundation ’Black Mould’ 💥 . #garageproject #turbine #meridianenergy #hops . Although the brewery isn’t plugged directly into the Brooklyn Turbine (now that would be cool!), the NZECS certifies that the electricity the it gets from the national grid is matched annually with 100% renewable energy that the turbine generates. In short, it’s pretty cool that all the electricity Meridian generates comes from renewable sources, and that windy Wellington has played a part in making our latest beer amazing! For more info, visit https://www.brewbetter.co.nz/

A post shared by Garage Project (@garageproject) on

For most of its solo ventures, Garage Project sticks to social media advertising, and with 44,000 plus followers on Instagram alone, they’ve proved competent. Yet when partnering with a company as big as Meridian, they needed to join forces to dip into unknown advertising territory.

“It was a collaborative effort between the companies. We do a lot of our promotional marketing predominately through social media. We haven’t even done this kind of traditional marketing before, because we’re a little business we’ve always relied on a much more guerrilla approach to marketing. We’re good at using our socials and we stick with that.

“It was cool getting to work with Meridian and use the more traditional means of marketing like poster campaigns which we’ve never done. We created the art, then using their experience we were able to create this larger campaign. We worked with them to produce the video too which was a real collaborative effort.”

Posters, billboards and other out-of-home media were graced with Garage Project's usual stunning artwork for the Turbine beer with help from Meridian's marketing team to make an impact on the new accreditation.

Garage Project 

Gillespie says the Meridian partnership was the first of its kind for the type of promotional work that was done. While in June of last year the Garage Project and Whittaker's Chocolate partnership was another first for the brand.

“It was our first foray into large retail in that way alongside a big campaign. We had to look at how we presented ourselves in supermarkets and it was quite a different world to some of the things we had done in the past."

Garage Project and Moustache

The argument for collaborations is a strong one, as Gillespie puts it with Whittaker's it creates an energy that can’t always be mimicked alone.

“It’s always a cool experience learning how other companies do things. And it comes down to working with cool, interesting, like-minded people, which can make these collaborations very energising. It’s fun meeting up with other creatives from other businesses, it keeps you feeling stimulated.

“Any system that doesn’t have new energy coming into it will stagnate. You need energy coming in all the time, and these collaborations provide that. It’s great to see how other creative people do their processes. It is immensely rewarding.”

Not only do partnerships provide an opportunity to piggyback on successful marketing tactics, but it also helps the brand reach like-minded, and even new audiences to promote their product to, and in Garage Project’s case, there is always something in the pipeline and this new marketing tactic is worth recreating.

“The new campaigns were an interesting experience,” Gillespie says. “I suspect we will continue to do a lot of the marketing we know we’re already really good at, but it might now include some of those more traditional advertising methods. We do a lot of amazing designs, and I think it would be really fun to share those to a broader audience. And what cooler way to share your art than on billboards all over the place.”

Garage Project has a handle on how to create impressive partnerships that inspire and tempt, most of which stem from the energy they bring to everything they create.

“One of our favourite partnerships for me was Whittaker's, as it’s such an iconic brand and the beers have been fun. Also, we did a beer called Bliss in collaboration with Attica in Melbourne, which is a famous restaurant run by Ben Shewry who is a Kiwi. He was doing a degustation when one dish was a high-end sausage sizzle out the back, where he was using possum meat. So, we collaborated to create a beer that would go along with possum meat, which if you’re wondering, is a simple larger with New Zealand malt and hops.”

Gillespie says that collaborations will always be a part of who they are, as they aim to provide consumers with the best version of what they can create alongside other amazing businesses, as he says it comes down simply to people loving to see something that is authentic and cool and is doing something new.

“The best collaborations are the ones where you learn from other people, and hopefully they learn something from you, and you all go away enriched from the experience.”

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