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Podcast partnerships agency Just Add Joy’s founders on innovative collaborations and the medium’s future

Posted by Dina Zubi in Case studies

6 months ago

The co-founders of new podcast partnerships agency Just Add Joy have a simple but effective mission: they want to help brands fully utilise all the untapped potential in the podcast space.

Kate Mander and Dani Murphy set up their company in 2023 to challenge the status quo in the industry. With more than 20 years of combined experience – from working at Acast, Stylist, Wavemaker and Havas Media Network, among others – the duo is well equipped to push podcast collaborations to the next level.

Key takeaways:

  • Kate Mander and Dani Murphy set up Just Add Joy to help brands get more out of podcast partnerships
  • The duo has an average dwell time of more than 30 minutes for the campaigns they have worked on, and they have also organised live events that sold out within hours
  • Key advice? Dare to be different, think beyond audio and create commercial content to be enjoyed, not just endured
  • Podcasting will become more interactive and there’s a movement towards creators setting up their own networks

“Just Add Joy is a real call to action for the podcast industry,” Mander tells CORQ. The duo points out that only the top few percentages of podcast hosts make a sustainable income that allows them to work full-time on their shows. Additionally, brands aren’t yet utilising the influence and dedicated communities podcasts create. “I would like to see more competition. Because we’re one of few, if not the only, podcast partnership agency,” Murphy says.

Mander and Murphy highlight several ways brands can get more out of podcast partnerships. “What immediately springs to mind for me is not to think about podcasts as purely audio,” Mander says. Popular shows often bring with them live events, social media accounts, merchandise, fan groups and video content, for example. While a brand podcast collaboration might be grounded in audio, it can reach so much further.

Daring to be different is another piece of advice from the founders. MailChimp’s partnership with the US podcast Serial, which started in 2014 before the format properly became mainstream, is one example of a risk that reaped rewards as Serial went on to become one of the most successful true crime shows of all time. Mander also highlights BrewDog’s collaboration with That Peter Crouch Podcast – “You can really tell that they have listened to the producers and the podcaster about their community,” she says. The partnership has included pub quizzes, live recordings and audio clips, which led up to the launch of a co-branded beer.

One of their own favourite campaigns is their work with Klarna, where they, for instance, teamed up with Kate Thornton’s White Wine Question Time and Vicky Pattison’s The Secret To… They created conversation cards designed to help make it easier to discuss financial issues – initially only for the podcasters to use. Some fans of the shows were also given the products, which resulted in a huge waiting list for the conversation cards. Klarna then turned it into a digital game with tens of thousands of plays. “People played it on Twitch, influencers played it – it became bigger than the podcasting,” Murphy says.

Murphy points out that premium and luxury brands rarely collaborate with podcasts, and that this is an area brands could see impressive results with. The founders also note that some brands have done incredible work in terms of podcast reach, but could now benefit from shifting to more in-depth, creative partnerships. “We’ve always challenged brands to be brave. That’s where the innovation is going to happen. That’s where we’re going to push the industry forward. And I can’t help speaking in sound bites, but that’s where the joy happens as well,” Mander says.

“This is a very valuable media”

The Just Add Joy founders believe commercial podcast content should be enjoyed, not just endured. “It’s very much our message to brands that this is a very valuable media, the dwell time is incredible. It’s not like you get that anywhere else, including TV,” Mander points out. The campaigns the Just Add Joy founders have worked on have an average dwell time of more than 30 minutes. They have also produced sponsored episodes that have performed better than regular instalments – as anyone in influencer marketing can tell you, this is no easy feat.

Several of the branded podcast events they have organised have sold out within just a few hours. This was the case with a live recording for Table Manners with Jessie and Lennie Ware in partnership with Sainsbury’s. The event was only promoted through one social post, which demonstrates the engagement of a dedicated podcast audience. The supermarket had supported the show for a long period before the announcement, making it a natural development for the collaboration.

As for the future of podcasting? The Just Add Joy duo highlights creators setting up their own networks as a development to keep an eye on. Examples include US podcaster Alexandra Cooper of Call Her Daddy creating Unwell, and Jamie Laing with Jam Pot Productions. “Podcasters are now realising that they can do it themselves with the right team around them, and they want to work with strategic partners and advertisers that work with them in really meaningful ways,” Mander says. This mirrors the shift among social media creators as well, where more influencers are moving their content to paid subscription platforms such as Patreon and Substack. Others, such as YouTube collective Sidemen, are creating brand new platforms just for their content.

Murphy also points to Spotify’s autogenerated transcripts, which launched in 2023, as a notable shift. Adding text, images and links to shows allows for a more interactive experience, and is something Chinese podcast platforms have been doing for years already. Additionally, transcriptions and artificial intelligence open the door for easy translation of foreign shows. Virtual gifts, which can now be seen on TikTok, are also popular in China and could become part of the podcasting landscape around the globe, Murphy highlights. “The idea that podcasts are just an audio file is almost laughable now,” she says.

By Dina Zubi, CORQ news and features writer. Picture credit: Just Add Joy