If you grew up watching Tom and Jerry cartoons, you know what competition looks like. Despite both characters having their own place in the house, life is a constant battle in which each tries to outsmart the other (and yes, Jerry always wins). Throughout the years, however, in between mousetrap missteps, electrical errors, frying pan faux pas, and any other array of torture devices, there have been a few unique episodes where the two have come together for a momentary cease-fire. The first of these actually occurred quite early on in the show in season one, episode five, which aired on April 18, 1942.
Like any other, this episode starts out with Tom chasing Jerry, but the scene takes an unexpected turn when viewers are introduced to Spike the Bulldog for the first time. Getting angry, Spike begins chasing Tom and Jerry, until the two decide to make a pact, unite their talents, and get back at Spike. It’s a beautiful example of using a Joint Venture to smoke your competition.
In case you haven’t picked it up already, Joint Ventures are strategic partnerships in which business owners pair up with their competition and work together to bring in business. In this example, picture Tom and Jerry as each of their own companies, looking to prosper over Spike, their mutual competitor. Rather than using their energy to take down each other and get trampled by Spike in the process, they work together and invest their energy into a great, synergistic front. By combining their talents, they now have the resources they need to win.
Bot how does a JV function? In episode five, “Dog Trouble,” the action starts as per usual with Tom chasing Jerry across a tablecloth and Jerry barely escaping Tom’s open mouth. In an effort to get away, Jerry runs out the door and straight into Spike, who is sleeping just outside. Tom gives chase and also accidentally collides with Spike, waking him. Naturally, Spike chases after Tom, but when Jerry starts laughing at Tom’s misfortune, Spike decides to teach him a lesson as well. This continues for some time until the episode’s turning point when Jerry helps Tom escape being bitten my Spike, and Tom returns the favor by saving Jerry. The two then become allies and make a plan. Jerry’s small size and silent movements allow him to thread yarn throughout the house while Tom distracts the dog. Once Spike is fairly worn out and the trap has been set, Jerry gets Spike’s attention and runs. Spike gets caught in the tangled yarn, making a mess of the house. All that noise brings Mammy into the room, and she throws Spike out, leaving Tom and Jerry in peace.
In a good JV relationship, both parties should be able to pool their resources for the benefit of both companies. While one could bring great advertising, for instance, another might contribute an impressive customer and contact list. One might extend its great creative talent, while another brings a collection of technological resources. Combined, both companies stand to gain more growth and prosperity. Just as Jerry’s size and dexterity work well with Tom’s ability to play the decoy, your company can find assets to bring to the negotiation table.
Of course, if there is one other lesson to learn from Tom and Jerry, it’s to not be fickle with your alliances. Tom and Jerry are a powerful force when they work together, but at the end of “Dog Trouble,” they’re back to playing on opposite sides. By trusting one another and making a pact to stick together for the long haul, you will have a JV relationship that will be far more impactful and meaningful. Don’t create a JV relationship just because it’s the thing to do. Rather, analyze your goals and seek a partner who can make those goals happen. If your relationship is mutually beneficial, each of you will find success in being innovative.