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Behind the Collaboration: Common Room x Lola's Ice Pops


In today's highly competitive food and beverage scene, restaurants and food businesses must constantly conceptualise and deliver new ideas and creations - not only to keep the interest of their customers, but also to attract further interest towards their operation. Brand collaborations are an ever more popular way for food businesses to innovate, and even the largest companies have reaped the benefits of joining forces with a complementary brand. Food and fashion, for example, are two spheres that have regularly come together, from Coca Cola's collaboration with PLAY Commes des Garconnes to create fashionably artistic cans, to the co-branded éclairs by Fauchon to celebrate Lacoste's 80th anniversary and Evian's designer bottles by fashion powerhouses Diane von Furstenburg and Elie Saab.

On a more local scale, Common Room's recent collaboration with Lola's Ice Pops (this post) is reaching for the same goal: to jointly create an innovative new product that will surprise and delight their existing clientele whilst jointly raising the profile of both. I sat down with Janice Jann, Director of Communications at Privé Group, to get the chowdown on how the boozesicles collaboration came about; read on for how a brand collaboration idea becomes a reality.

The Idea

"Hong Kong is known for being a cutthroat market for F&B businesses", comments Jann. She adds, "To remain relevant and competitive, we have to always look out for creative ways to market our restaurants." Jann gets her inspiration in various forms, from regular visits to local food markets (she's a regular at Island East Markets) and new bars and restaurants, to keeping track of what's trending in English and local Chinese media ("Hong Kong Tatler Dining and Eat and Travel Weekly are two of my go-tos") as well as following local social media influencers ("Do you follow Little Meg Siu Meg on Instagram?"). It was through reading a food magazine that she first saw an image of a Pimms Cup popsicle, which she thought would be perfect for the fun and relaxed vibe of Common Room. Although boozy ice pops were not a new idea, they were relatively unheard of in Hong Kong, and Jann could not wait to explore the idea further.

The Partner

Jann saw the Pimms Cup popsicle in August of 2013, which meant they had to shelve the idea of boozy popsicles for a couple of months. In the interim, she began to notice Lola's Ice Pops popping up (excuse the pun!) around Hong Kong's food markets and gaining momentum on Instagram. When May 2014 came around, it was felt that Lola's were a good match for an alcoholic popsicle collaboration at Common Room. Not only were Lola's a local independent business, but their ethos is to create healthy ice pops using all natural ingredients. Finding a partner that had similar values to Common Room and Privé Group at large was incredibly important; however, after Privé approached and met with Lola's founders Julie Tuan and Sandra Wong, they felt convinced the chemistry was right and went straight to work devising exclusive flavours that would be sold on-site at Common Room.

The Collaboration

Once the partnership was formed, the process from concept to reality took only 2-3 weeks, recounts Jann. First, they discussed turning a few of Common Room's popular drinks into boozy popsicles; then, Sandra suggested dunking the ice pops into the drinks. Thus, the drunken boozesicle was born! The Bramble and Espresso Martini were given their own special boozy popsicles, and Common Room devised a new cocktail, the Strawberry Frangelico, to pair with a hazelnut-strawberry ice pop. Standalone alcoholic ice pops were also introduced to cater for those who wanted a light snack or dessert without a drink - the Saketini (green) and Strawberry Liski (pink) were both incredibly refreshing and barely tasted of alcohol, but definitely added some merriment to my evening.

"We are extremely happy with the collaboration, as we did not have the expertise to create top-notch popsicles. This is Lola's niche, and pairing their product with our drinks and restaurant has been a success for us so far," muses Jann. So there you have it - the story of how Common Room and Lola's Ice Pops came together to bring us devilishly delicious popsicle cocktails. Be sure to try one out if you are in Hong Kong this summer!

Common Room 1/F Wo On Building, 8-13 Wo On Lane / 2525 3599common-room.hk
Lola's Ice Pops lolasicepops.com

Image 4 courtesy of Janice Jann. All other images courtesy of Privé Group.


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