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Everything You Need to Know about Co-op Advertising

Updated: Jan 23

At our agency, we throw around all kinds of words and acronyms that don’t mean anything to most people. One word you’ll hear us talking about just about every day is co-op. “When is co-op due?” “Is the co-op running?” “Does our client want to participate in co-op this quarter?”

So, what the heck is co-op?

Have you ever seen a McDonald’s commercial that specifically mentions Coca-Cola products? That is cooperative advertising, or co-op.

Co-op partners, like Coke and McDonalds in the example above, combine their advertising dollars to build a mutually beneficial advertising campaign. When they pool their money to create a larger overall advertising budget, brands can often increase reach, frequency and have a better ability to negotiate rates and bonus ad space.

Co-op campaign with Dr. Phil and WBBM

Many of our clients are local television stations, so their co-op often looks like an ad that promotes both a newscast and a syndicated entertainment program, like Jeopardy or Entertainment Tonight. In these cases, the TV station typically pays for the entire ad campaign and the entertainment program reimburses 50% of the advertising cost to the station.

What kind of businesses use co-op?

Many businesses have access to co-op advertising. From restaurants and retail to media and auto dealers, co-op opportunities are endless. If you pay attention to ads, you’ll notice that it’s common for commercials, billboards and digital ads to have combined brand messages.

How does co-op benefit our clients?

In addition to helping ad dollars go further and increasing reach, the co-op partnerships can help elevate both brands. A great example of this is when a syndicator launches a new show.

Imagine XYZ syndicator is launching a new Wordle game show that will air on the local station WLHA-TV (see what we did there – LHA?). So, Wordle and WLHA decide to partner on an advertising campaign to create awareness about the show’s launch.

WLHA’s news is well-known in their TV market and Wordle has fans everywhere. By pairing their advertising, Wordle fans will learn about WLHA and WHLA viewers will learn about Wordle. The two brands create the opportunity to build awareness with the other’s fans. It’s a win-win!

Are there any disadvantages to using co-op?

Sure, like everything, there are some disadvantages. When brands participate in co-op, there are specific rules they must follow in order to qualify for the matching dollars. The rules can be everything from where they can advertise to what the commercial must say. Sometimes clients want more flexibility in their campaigns and opt out of co-op participation.

Lastly, there is a lot of paperwork associated with co-op (A LOT). Applications, proof of performance and reimbursement forms are some paperwork that is often required, which can be time consuming for busy clients. (Fun fact: we do ALL co-op paperwork for our clients!)

Thank you for reading, we hope you enjoyed this article! If you’d like to discuss co-op opportunities, and have us handle all of that paperwork for you, drop us a line! We also invite you to follow us on LinkedIn or Facebook for more content like this!

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