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Year In Rewind: The Best Celebrity/Brand Collabs 2020-2021

Posted by Tani Song on August 4, 2021 at 8:30 AM

Celebrities That Made Brands The Talk Of The Town

Last year celebrities rolled their sleeves up and got to work during their unexpected time off in lieu of the pandemic. As a result, we’ve seen brand collaborations anywherefrom fast-food chains to fashion brands to makeup lines and more. Between the power of social media and celebrities’ loyal fan bases, brands have been able to market themselves with exceptional success.

During a time when much of the world had little to do, these celebrity/brand partnerships gave us something to be excited about. Whether it be a TikTok trend or a “while supplies last” sale, some brands got everyone to hop on the train. In this blog, Hollywood Branded shares some of the most talked-about celebrity/brand collaborations from the past year.


CelebrityBrand Collabs 20-21 — Blog Cover


Celebrity And Brand Collabs Everyone Had To Try

From fast-food creations, to new product line launches, celebrities this past year have turned stepping out of their comfort zones into a great success. In collaboration with names like Beyoncé, Travis Scott and Dolly Parton, brands have been able to increase their sales and subsequently, better-market their business. 

Celebrity-endorsed brand marketing ultimately works to promote brands’ products and services. Celebrity collaborations give the celebrity the chance to try their hand at something new, whilst giving the brand the opportunity to target a loyal, fan-based audience. In fact, in regards to marketing materials like ads, the presence of celebrities actually increases the likelihood of consumer interest. Brands are able to transfer the positive image and characteristics that these celebrities embody into their marketing, enticing consumers to hop on the trend (especially when it’s something out-of-the-ordinary like “The Charli” at Dunkin).

Let’s take a look at some examples of celebrity collabs that trended this past year.


An Ode To The Queen Of Country: Dolly Parton And Jeni’s Ice Cream

On April 8 Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream launched, or attempted to launch (we’ll get there), their collaboration with the Queen of Country herself, Dolly Parton. The new Strawberry Pretzel Pie flavor is an ode to Dolly that features layers of salty pretzel streusel, a sweet, but tangy cream cheese ice cream, and lipstick-red strawberry sauce. Every purchase of a Strawberry Pretzel Pie pint will support Dolly’s Imagination Library, which gifts books to children free of charge to inspire a love of reading. It’s safe to say that this collab has secured some major attraction from the country music and ice cream-lovin’ communities across the US. 

Jeni’s Ice Cream first announced the collaboration perfectly, with an Instagram graphic teaser that threw Dolly’s army of life-long fans for a loop. On Monday, March 15, the Jeni's Instagram account posted a graphic that depicts the print: “Jeni’s Specially Made for Dolly Parton” and captioned, “Jeni’s x @dollyparton. Benefiting Dolly’s @imaginationlibrary.” From then on until the set launch date, the account would only post promotional images of Dolly and the new flavor, serving its purpose to hype up the release of the delicious new addition. Dolly herself then announced the partnership and launch date on her own Instagram which only fueled the fire of excitement. 

Dolly Parton, yummy ice cream, and supporting a good cause? Who wouldn’t want in on all the action? That was the problem for Jeni’s— too many people tried buying pints of Strawberry Pretzel Pie on the original launch day. It was stated that only 10,000 pints will be made and sold, so many people were eager to get their hands on one as soon as possible. The product’s release sold out in-stores and drew in so much foot traffic to the Jeni’s website that it malfunctioned, leaving many anxious customers ice cream-less. This led to some scammy sales on sites like eBay; some users attempted to sell the pints for up to $1000, listing them as “unused” or “unopened.” Thankfully, by the next week Jeni’s announced that the remaining stock of about 5,000 pints will be sold online only and that additional pints will be available for pre-order while supplies last (those sold out pretty quickly too, if you were wondering).

Dolly Parton Jeni's Ice Cream


“The Charli” At Dunkin’

The video-sharing platform, TikTok, has played a key role in the success of some celebrity/brand collabs in the past year. In Fall of 2020 Dunkin’ Donuts announced its new drink, The Charli, a cold brew with whole milk and three pumps of caramel swirlthe TikTok star’s go-to order. The seventeen year-old celeb has organically expressed her love for Dunkin’ coffee upon building her ever-growing platforms. Just when the world thought Charli D’amelio’s fame would reside on TikTok, Dunkin’ was able to grab the iron while it was hot and attract a whole new wave of Gen Z customers. 

As one of the most recognizable faces on the app, with ~only~ 88.5 million followers at the time, Charli was able to casually promote the drink named in her honor the best way she knew how. On Sept. 2, the day of the launch, Charli posted a TikTok announcing the drink which now sits at 66 million views and 12.3 million likes on the app. The reach she had on her promotional posts made a clear-cut path for The Charli Drink to soar to the top of the trends. 

When The Charli launched at Dunkin’ stores, they quickly saw an uproar in sales. Drayton Martin, VP of brand stewardship at Dunkin’ told TMZ that the business saw a 57 % increase in their mobile app downloads in the first day, and sold hundreds of thousands of the signature drink in the first five days— what a hit! Charli’s fanbase took it up a notch on the day of the launch by boosting Dunkin’s sales on cold brews alone by 20%, and a 45% surge the following day. The numbers didn’t lie, and boy did Dunkin’ know it.

Since the success of her first drink, Charli D’amelio was able to launch yet another drink with Dunkin’— but this time with some spice (and by spice I mean just a couple new ingredients)! The Charli Cold Foam, which launched Feb 24 2021, is just like The Charli, but now includes Sweet Cold Foam and cinnamon sugar on top. Also new this time around, Dunkin’ and Charli got to market the drink for the greater good by promising to donate fifty cents per Charli Cold Foam purchase for two full days — up to $25,000 — benefitting the Dunkin’ Joy In Childhood Foundation.

Thanks to her love for Dunkin’ and her impeccable dance moves, Charli D’amelio has been able to draw in an influx of sales and attention to the famous coffee chain. The trending TikTok hashtag “ #charlirunsondunkin ” now has over 208.6 million views and is filled with fan reviews, creative ways to order, and people just going out to their nearest Dunkin’ to see if it was really true. Who knows how many more drinks will come out of this Dunkin’ x Charli collab but dare I say it, Starbucks could never.

Charli D'amelio Dunkin'

celebrity sales success video

Queen Bey Turned Queen Of Fashion: Beyoncé Ivy Park x Adidas

Beyoncé has yet again championed another talent, this time swapping vocals and stellar performances for athleisure and inclusivity. This year, Adidas launched its third Ivy Park collection in collaboration with the iconic pop star. This partnership however, is unique in the sense that Queen Bey actually owns the Ivy Park brand. Distinguishing herself as one of the first black women to be the sole owner of an athleisure brand, Beyoncé reminds us why so many people refer to her as “Queen.” She went on to partner with Adidas to release an athletic wear line that reflects their “shared respect for and commitment to creativity, and the belief that through sport, we have the power to change lives.” Similar to the previous two collections —Ivy Park and Drip 2 — the third, known as “ICY PARK,” sold out completely in just days. I’m sure this has us all wondering: what can’t she do? 

The new line, launched on Feb 19 2021, features bold, yet essential winter wear apparel matched with an array of complimentary accessory pieces. Adidas announced the Icy Park line only weeks before the release, this time featuring new faces on the campaign such as model Hailey Bieber, rapper Gucci Mane, singer Kaash Paige and more. The heiress to Queen Bey and also partial namesake of the brand, Blue Ivy also makes an appearance in the Icy Park promos. Beyoncé’s fanbase, otherwise known as the “Beyhive,” was already excited enough for the songstress’ new line, but Adidas did a phenomenal job at marketing the campaign so that everyone needed in. 

Although the apparel is high-quality, trendy, and for some pieces, top-dollar, this collaboration has seen its success through centering the Ivy Park collection around both parties' shared values of, and commitment to creativity, equity, and creators. Adidas stated that the relationship between the multi-talented superstar and the infamous athletic and footwear brand is based around a “set of core principles including the importance of women in leadership, shared ownership, empowerment, and collaboration,” and each of these collections reflect those perfectly. Ivy Park’s performance gear, apparel, and accessories bring to life the collection’s values of inclusivity, community, and diversity with components like gender neutral color palettes and silhouettes and sizes ranging from XXXS - 4XL. As a result, both brands have been able to successfully market and sell products that stem from a truly beautiful foundation. 

Adidas x Ivy Park designs


The Travis Scott Meal At McDonald’s — It’s Lit!

Sicko Mode activated. In September of 2020, rapper Travis Scott got to put his name on his favorite meal at McDonald’s, including his custom-order Quarter Pounder (essentially just a Quarter Pounder with bacon) which quickly became referenced as the “Travy Patty.” This $6 meal, which also included a medium order of fries and a Sprite was only available for a limited time. The collab was initially announced on social media and went so viral upon the launch that many McDonald’s ran out of the supplies to make it! 

What seemed like a humorous collab at first — between the world’s most famous fast-food chain and the Astroworld creator — the Travis Scott Meal became a ground-breaking social media sensation which only aided its sales. On Sept 3, Travis Scott tweeted “Cactus Jack for McDonald’s,” confirming speculations for the partnership. Later that week, more promotional material came out from both Scott and McDonald’s, also revealing the additional sale of the collab’s merchandise which includes clothes, hats, a lunch box, and even a $90 nugget body pillow. Once it launched, the meal’s attention took to new heights on TikTok. The Travis Scott Meal found itself trending as it became popular for Cactus Jack fans and fast-food aficionados to post their creative ways to order. From vague statements like “You know why I’m here” to blasting Scott’s songs at the drive-thru window, everyone had to share their experience. 

The increase in sales at McDonald’s during this limited-time partnership proves the collab as an exceptional success. In fact, McDonald’s US sales rose 4.6% in the months it was featured on the menu and McDonald’s credited the Travis Scott Meal for helping drive its highest US monthly sales in nearly a decade, despite the effects of the pandemic. With what seemed like effortless marketing, McDonald’s was able to use this collaboration to draw in a myriad of customers thanks to its viral success and the power of celebrity endorsements. The chain didn’t even have to endure any of the labor or financial burdens of adding a new menu item— now that’s (as Travis Scott would say) “lit”! 

Travis Scott Mcdonald's

Though some of the year’s favorite celebrity/brand collaborations didn’t last forever, a new one might be announced when you least expect it. With the increase in social media usage in the peak months of the pandemic (especially on platforms like TikTok), celebrity/brand collaborations have been able to market to a stronger audience than ever before. There’s still much of 2021 left, which leaves us on the edge of our seats to see what collab will come next. Be it a new fast-food menu item — like the BTS Meal which came to McDonald’s on May 26 — or a collab makeup line with a movie star, celebrity partnerships have the power to establish revolutionary trends that we never saw coming. 


Want To Explore More Top-Hit Collabs? Hollywood Branded Has Got You Covered!

Brands have seen great success in utilizing celebrities to hype up new products on the market, turn already-existing products into bestsellers, and most importantly, draw in a lot of attention to their business. Checkout these blogs to see more celebrity+brand success stories!

Interested in partnering with a celebrity? Read this e-book to learn the best tips & tricks to get them at your brand's event! 

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Topics: Marketing Best Practices, Celebrity Endorsements, COVID-19 - Celebrity, Celebrities, brand exposure, TikTok