After taking a few days to digest all of the presentations at our annual sponsorship conference, it dawned on me that the key buzzword and theme for this year’s conference was “authenticity.” Nearly all sessions that I attended made at least some reference to the importance of a partnership being genuine. This extends to how a company showcases its core business attributes, as well as its CSR efforts, which are highly valued by an organization and its employees and a core aspect of the company’s culture.
Leading up to the 2011 IEG Sponsorship Conference, Return on Engagement: Sponsorship’s Impact on Business, I will be blogging on measuring sponsorship’s ROI: How to do it, what the research reveals, improving the value of sponsorship, etc. more
Tapping into sponsorship’s potential, Clearwire Wireless is sponsoring in regional markets to promote its new WiMax wireless broadband.
This month the company sponsors both the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon and Half Marathon powered by Zappos.com and the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas on behalf of Clear, its WiMax service. more
I have no problem admitting I love partaking in some Real Housewives of Orange County viewing (or Atlanta, New Jersey, New York City, hell, it could be The Real Housewives of Des Moines and I’d probably watch). However, it is definitely not the first thing I bring up as conversational fodder when attempting to convey my personality and what I stand for. So, when I read today that Sprint is signed on as a sponsor of Bravo’s fifth season of The Real Housewives of Orange County,I was a bit… well, stunned I guess.
For starters, here are the deets of the deal; Sprint will receive:
Some of you who read my blog regularly, or know me personally, are aware that I am in the process of relocating from Chicago to Austin. As one would expect, this process has required many things – namely, whittling my wardrobe to a reasonable size (in order to fit in my car) and spending a fair chunk of change repairing my car’s sputtering AC to make the cross-country drive more comfortable. As unpleasant as both of these tasks were, the process of closing various utility accounts, opening new ones and changing several service providers has been a bit more… trying. Now, let me disclaim this blog right now and say: this is not a blog to take out my frustrations on any one company or to take digs on any one company’s customer service. As a person who understands the importance of consumer research and feedback, I pride myself on always taking customer service surveys and more often than not, I find myself apologizing to anyone that handles my “issue” as I know their job is far too frequently thankless. Consider this a manifesto on the importance of customer service and the power of word-of-mouth in the digital age.
That said, I cannot say that the experience of changing said accounts has been effortless or even successful (as I am still holding three various accounts pending closure in Chicago). Through this process I’ve learned that at one time one of my utility accounts had been taken out of my name and reopened in someone else’s (unbeknownst to me) and that your old wireless provider can in fact continue charging you after you’ve instructed them to stop using your automatic bill pay information. In fact, I’ve learned these things and been told that several of these hiccups were “my fault.” As a human being, I find this frustrating. As a professional in the marketing/sponsorship world, I find it entirely unacceptable and worrisome as I can attest that this kind of service can damage a company’s reputation measurably.
Although IEG’s responsibility to identify categories primed to increase sponsorship budgets has been a challenging one this past year, we have scoped out new activity and are heartened by reports of new deals that support our conclusions.
For example, we reported in the spring that prepaid wireless services were good candidates for a wider variety of properties than they previously had been involved with. Now we hear from Peter Hansen of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center that he has concluded a deal for Boost Mobile to sponsor the Newark venue’s Sounds of the City summer series of free Thursday evening outdoor performances. Boost Mobile was attracted to the series’ demographics—core age group of 25-to-32-year-olds, 75 percent African-American, 15 percent Latino—and the opportunity for face-to-face interaction with nearly 3,000 attendees at each performance. The provider plans to activate through geo-texting and social media applications; NJPAC also could provide artist content for Boost Mobile to offer through its phones and Web site.
It will be interesting to see what Sprint Nextel does once it completes its just-announced acquisition of Virgin Mobile USA. The purchase gives the company two prepaid wireless brands: Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile, which it already owned.
Both brands have been active and inventive sponsors (IEG Sponsorship Report subscribers can read our article on the prepaid category here, so I hope that combining forces will bring more spending, additional innovative programs and continued creative excellence in activation. But of course there are no guarantees.
Virgin Mobile’s conversion of its ticketed Virgin Mobile Festival to the free Virgin Mobile FreeFest, which was announced last month, was a brilliant stroke. It recognizes the impact of the recession on consumers and also rewarded Virgin Mobile customers by giving them first shot at the free ducats for the August 30 music event.