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Cover Story: Innovation Through Collaboration

By: Leslie Benson
Posted: May 1, 2008, from the May 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Ten years ago, partnerships like this would have been less effective, says Mezzina DiResta, in part due to the growth of the Internet as a cross-marketing tool since then. “Today, if you want to find out more about a company, you can get the answer with the click of a button—so if you’re familiar with Tarte and not BriteSmile, or vice versa, you can easily learn more,” she says. “On top of that, consumers aren’t nearly as brand loyal nowadays as they once were—they tend to be much savvier about what brands exist in the marketplace in general. So, whereas once a co-branded product might have been greeted with confusion, these days it’s more likely to be greeted with excitement—sort of like you’re getting two products for the price of one, which is a trend that never goes out of style.”

However, in order to set market trends, Mezzina DiResta says partnerships offering innovative brand synergy are a popular step. “I think as each ‘world’ in the beauty industry—color, skin care, fragrance, bath and body, and so on— becomes more saturated with brands filling very specific niches, we will start to see more and more crossover,” she says. “Companies are realizing that partnerships are a good way to branch out of your own area and hit a totally different customer base.”

Merging Minds
Once approved, a merger of ideas between brands leads to an extensive process of research through distribution. For BORBA’s agreement with Anheuser-Busch, Borba says it took about a year to come to fruition. “If the other founder of a company is willing to roll with PR, you can really synergize personalities in all mediums,” he says. “For QVC, as an example, my personality comes out on air, and it’s a blessing to showcase innovation and personally say why I did it.”

Borba’s personality is that of a forward-thinking entrepreneur from a small farm town in California. He thought big from the get-go, paying his way through college by strutting down catwalks as a Ford model in Calvin Klein and Versace fashion shows. After earning a dual degree in biochemistry and marketing from Santa Clara University, he even studied at Santa Clara Law School. Borba’s eventual move to Los Angeles built his career in prestige and expanded his well-rounded education firsthand. From working as a product and brand developer to a marketer, he represented Hard Candy, Neutrogena, P&G/Wella/Sebastian, Shiseido/Joico and Murad, before pursuing his solo debut.

Borba admits his business ventures have stimulated rewarding conversations of trends and industry growth. Brad Greenspan, co-founder of and former founder, CEO and chairman of eUniverse (renamed Intermix Media), agreed to help BORBA grow even further, having strategically invested more than $3 million in the brand and joined the company as a nonexecutive chairman of the board. Liberty Media Corporation, the parent company of QVC, also has invested in the brand.