Without doing so consciously, I have assembled a collection of fake “sponsorships” over the years. While some of these are ambush marketing ploys (see below), what makes them fake is not as simple as pretending to sponsor a property. It’s that they’re sponsoring a pretend property—something no one can possibly own or trademark because it’s too big, too intangible, or too common. After adding to my collection just yesterday, I thought I’d share a few thoughts about how and when companies go there.
Harrah’s Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind.—just over the state line from Chicago—took a chance at the beginning of the ’09 MLB season by renting ad space on the rooftop of a building across the street from the left-field bleachers of the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field.
For a reported $600,000-a-year, two-year deal, the casino received lots of TV exposure during Cubs broadcasts. But the team has now put the kibosh on that visibility, erecting two large outfield billboards that block TV cameras’ view of the Horseshoe sign.
While I have nothing against clever ambush marketing efforts, this attempt by Horseshoe does not fit in that category. It paid what appears to be a highly inflated rate for the rooftop, as reports are that previous advertiser Anheuser-Busch paid just $347,000 in ’08 for its Budweiser sign that occupied the same space. The Cubs—under former owner Tribune Co.—were okay with that ad, as A-B has been a longtime official sponsor of the team. more
Earlier this week during a staff lunch, there was a heated discussion around child safety harnesses (kid leashes). There were strong opinions on both sides, with the pro-leash group citing safety and peace of mind and the anti-leash group calling the leashes “lazy”, “restrictive” and of course there was the mention of dogs. However, it is interesting to note that almost no one in the group has children.
If you do a quick search online, it is apparent, that parents and non-parents definitely have a lot of strong-held opinions on the subject. I really don’t see anything wrong with child safety harnesses, although I have had strong initial negative reactions when I have seen people with them. Really if you think about it, how is it that different than child safety gates or baby cabinet locks? No one seems to have a problem with those and it is the same concept really, you are restricting where your child can go for his/her safety. Nobody claims that parents that have child safety gates are lazy because they aren’t watching their children. So, really, it all depends on your perspective.
After reading Bill Chipps’ recent blog on post-event fulfillment reports, I realized that I had a lot of opinions on what a post-event fulfillment/sponsorship recap report should and shouldn’t be.
I have to be upfront, as a Senior Valuation Analyst, I don’t write fulfillment reports and I don’t typically give a lot of advice on them (I leave that to our expert consulting staff), but as someone who reviews and sorts through boxes and binders of sponsorship information for both properties and sponsors, I have some pretty clear ideas of what types of information I like and what information makes my job easier. Additionally, as an objective third-party, I often hear sponsors’ gripes about their partnerships, which can include complaints about lackluster fulfillment reports. Frankly, sometimes I feel like a sponsorship therapist. Finally, I’ve seen quite a few fulfillment reports, some good and some not so great.
Category Exclusivity is defined by IEG as: the right of a sponsor to be the only company within its product or service category associated with the sponsored property.
So what does category exclusivity look like in practice?
In a “best case” scenario, a sponsor would have category exclusivity that extends throughout a property. For example, a naming rights sponsor for a venue would have category exclusivity that covers all sponsor benefits, extends to any third-party event sponsors, teams, venue tenants, vendors, and any broadcast or on-site advertisers. On the other end of the spectrum would be zero category exclusivity, meaning the property could have multiple sponsors within the same category.
You may have seen some recent press around NBA Orlando Magic center Marcin Gortat. A Polish newspaper published a photo of Gortat after game one of the NBA Finals that prominently displayed the Michael Jordan/Nike tattoo on Gortat’s lower right leg. Gortat, a native of Poland, has a shoe contract with Reebok. According to Tim Povak of Fanhouse.com, Reebok asked Gortat to either cover the tattoo with his socks or with make-up for the rest of the finals. Gortat said “that ain’t going to happen,” noting he had the tattoo when he signed with Rebook and it wasn’t a problem then.
This reminded me of the events that took place at the 2006 World Cup in Stuttgart, Germany where Dutch fans wearing orange lederhosen with the Bavaria Beer logo on them were required to remove their pants because Bavaria is not an official sponsor of the World Cup. This action was taken by FIFA on behalf its sponsor Budweiser.
These could both be considered forms of ambush marketing. However, a major point of differentiation is that Gortat is paid by Reebok, whereas the Dutch fans paid to attend the World Cup. It wasn’t Gortat’s intent to ambush his sponsor and it is debatable that Bavaria Beer’s intent was to ambush Budweiser. I can see both sides of this, but I wonder what the ultimate impact of these actions is on how consumers view these sponsors. Does the publicity draw more attention to the situation and their competitors’ brands then if there wasn’t any type of intervention? I would like to hear your opinion on this.