For the past year it’s been my personal obsession to keep tabs on everyday Jane’s and Joe’s who’ve managed to do the extraordinary and find ways to pursue their dreams and passions by getting themselves sponsored. The kind of “self-sponsorship” I’m talking about isn’t the sleazy “place an ad here (insert body part) and I’ll promote your brand in my online video” type — it is inspired, quirky and refreshing.
My ears first perked up when I heard Stride gum was sponsoring a guy named Matt who had a goal to dance around the globe (you can check Matt out here: http://www.wherethehellismatt.com/?fbid=8uJc6NDGCmR). Stride worked its “Ridiculously long lasting” catch phrase with Matt’s non-stop dancing; exchanged funding for low key advertising in Matt’s online videos; and earned the brand one hell of an interesting spokesperson. As for Matt, well, he got to dance.
Then I learned of another guy, this one named Daniel, who was a bit indecisive in the career department and was looking to “Live the Map.” Daniel’s goal? Travel the 50 states and work 50 jobs in 50 weeks (learn about Daniel here: http://www.livingthemap.com/Living_the_Map/Why.html). The details of Daniel’s sponsorship situation aren’t quite as explicit but he’s sporting a relatively sophisticated web site with t-shirts for sale, professional travel advice and major media outlet coverage (Fox News, CNN, CBS, The Today Show, etc.) which certainly ups his sponsorability factor.
I have a love-hate relationship with sponsored content and my fear is that too many consumers have a flat out “hate-it” relationship with it.
This fear is based on nothing more than sociological observation. During my daily commute, whilst precariously balancing my Starbucks to avoid burns, and adjusting the volume on my iPod to prevent dirty glares, I make a habit of observing my fellow train passengers’ behavior. It’s no rarity to see people breeze right past the sponsored insert in the middle of the free daily — or worse, drop it right on the train floor. While it pains me to say it, I must admit, if it weren’t for my personal investment in the world of marketing I would likely do the same.
Sponsored content — done right — is an incredibly valuable benefit to all parties involved: sponsor, rightsholder and audience. We all know the trick is making it so compelling that the audience wants to engage with it. When it comes to sponsored content there are definitely deal breakers that compel us to either pick or pan the content. more