MIAMI, FL: Brands have a "nearly endless" opportunity to identify new types of partnerships which can help drive growth, Matt Murphy – Partner/Executive Creative Director at 72andSunny – suggested on the eve of the 4A's Transformation 2016 conference.

Murphy is chairing the judges of the 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies) Partner Awards, which aim to recognise the companies that have used innovative collaborations to solve marketing problems.

"The opportunities for partnership are nearly endless," he told Warc. (For more, including campaign examples from the 2015 Partner Awards, read Warc's exclusive report: Building multi-modal marketing partnerships for the digital age.)

"We are living in the most entrepreneurial time ever; in a culture that values and thrives on ideas. Partnerships are all about creating exponential outcomes and thinking about a challenge or campaign in a new way."

Many blue-chip marketers, from PepsiCo to General Electric, have made working with innovative startups and tech providers a strategic priority.

And the list of winners from the 2015 Partner Awards featured big names like Nissan and Starbucks, but also included the National Parks Foundation, indicating this approach can act as an equaliser for players with more limited budgets.

Whatever the size of the brand concerned, Murphy argued, identifying where next-generation partnerships might flourish requires different modes of thinking.

"The excitement, for me personally, is about looking at brands, media and production with a 'what if' mindset. This helps us discover how we can be stronger and more innovative by working together," he said.

As part of this process, it is useful to begin from a product's underlying purpose. "Be honest about what your brand stands for and then be radical in looking for new ways to make it matter in culture," he advised.

Most important of all, however, is a willingness to go beyond the traditional client/agency dynamic and ensure all the parties and involved and invested.

"Collaboration is king," Murphy said. "It has to be a shared journey on all fronts among brands, agencies and partners. Everyone has to be invested in the outcome. Otherwise the results won't sing."

Data sourced from Warc