Those of you who don’t subscribe to IEG Sponsorship Report (and in my obviously biased opinion, if you work in sponsorship, I think you should) missed a terrific one-on-one interview a few weeks ago with sponsorship veteran Dockery Clark.
The former Bank of America and MillerCoors sponsorship exec took sponsors to task for what she perceives as a trend to use the medium strictly to drive short-term, product-focused results instead of to build passion for brands.
Her observation about the declining importance of exclusivity was very telling in that regard, not to mention that it has been echoed in recent comments by Anheuser-Busch marketers, who have referred to some of their deals as “half exclusive.” (While I understand they probably mean exclusivity restricted to certain property components, the phrase is as ludicrous as saying, “sort of unique.”)
“The commercialization of sports hasn’t reached its nadir, and we know this because the inevitable last step still hasn’t happened-that moment when the Browns and the Rockets become the Cleveland E*Trades and the Houston Mennen Speed Sticks, with logo-embossed jerseys to match.” The column continues…
“This is the year when sports commercialization will finally go from being a cute, quintessentially American subplot (poor small town jock makes it to the big leagues, gets the big hit in the big game, gets rewarded with his face on a Wheaties box) to a disfiguring herpes-like disease that one never stops being aware of and finally sucks the last bits of joy from following pro sports.” And continues…
“It’s not just the preposterous sponsorship tie-ins you see everywhere, so much so that you can literally consume them…I know we are getting there because I love sports but am beginning to hate watching sports. There are so many goddamn ads and tie-ins now, your skull starts to feel like an echo chamber by the end of the game-and you start inadvertently humming beer-company jingles to yourself, against your will. It is enough to make you want to gouge out your own eyeballs with a spoon and eat them raw.” (Don’t hold back, tell us how you really feel.)
Sometimes the identification of emerging sponsorship categories comes straight out of the headlines. For example, we are seeing more activity from the makers of hand sanitizers in the wake of growing concerns over the spread of the H1N1 virus.
Last month’s Tour of Missouri bike race was sponsored by Germ-X, which also has been the official hand sanitizer of the MLB St. Louis Cardinals, the Cincinnati-area’s Newport Aquarium and Branson, Mo.’s Silver Dollar City.
Vancouver-based ALDA Pharmaceuticals Corp. is the official antiseptic hand sanitizer, disinfectant and disinfectant cleaning products supplier to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Games’ speed skating venue—the Richmond Olympic Oval.
Many of you have probably seen this week’s story about the conflict brewing over the shoes Marcus Jordan—son of basketball legend Michael Jordan—will wear as a basketball player for the University of Central Florida. UCF counts Adidas as its exclusive apparel supplier, but Jordan has apparently requested to wear his father’s eponymous Nike Air Jordan brand. A few thoughts come to mind:
Signage as a sponsorship benefit is often written off. When you compare signage to sponsorship benefits like VIP hospitality, mailing lists and sampling, it doesn’t seem as relevant or meaningful. Also, if you consider the per impression or per person value of signage, it is often on the lower end of the value range (although those impressions can add up). Additionally, signage has gotten a bad rap because, at times, it has been overused, poorly placed or is just not very creative. Plus, signage is hard to leverage and is considered “old school”. A sponsor or property rarely receives recognition around a great sign. However, as much as we would like to think otherwise, a lot of sponsorship packages started as primarily on-site signage or other visibility elements. I definitely don’t think that is what we should go back to, but I would like to make a case for signage as a sponsorship benefit. Signage has evolved a lot, the definition of it has changed, and if done strategically can be a great benefit as part of a sponsorship package.
Properties that draw Indo-Americans, Hispanics and other multicultural and general market audiences that make frequent international phone calls should put Vonage Holdings Corp. on their prospect list.
The Internet phone service provider last year hired former Cingular Wireless CMO Marc Lefar as its new CEO. At Cingular, Lefar oversaw the telco’s massive sponsorship portfolio that included everything from pro sports teams to festivals, fairs and performing arts organizations. more
Imagine my surprise when, sitting in the salon waiting room, a blog post appeared. Someone before me had left behind Q, Aon’s employee magazine (Q3 2009 edition). The bright cover depicts children playing soccer and the headline "UNITED IN 2010: AON AND MANCHESTER UNITED" along with a call-out saying there is a team poster inside.
Above and beyond that poster is a case for a sponsorship the likes of which we rarely see. While Aon's core business is not sponsorship or even marketing (it's risk management and human capital consulting), they give their employees solid background on the reasons for the partnership, including business objectives, value drivers and ROI case studies. Particularly impressive is an interview with Charlie Armstrong, senior director, advertising & global branding for AIG, to "find out how the current sponsor leveraged its opportunity to build brand and grow AIG's business."
Something was recently brought to my attention by one of my loyal blog readers (who has no problem shooting me straight): I am a perpetual Negative Nelly in my posts. Yep, just one cynical, critical consultant throwing stones at just about everyone and everything. Thing is, when you make your living spotting potential sponsorship red flags and helping people improve their sponsorship program, you become trained to look for problems and admittedly, can overlook the good stuff.
Being a big-time believer in karma, I’d like to put something good out there too. So, this post is a step in the direction of setting my sponsorship karma right, I am actually going to talk about someone doing something well.
An article that appeared in the Detroit Free Press (10/17) about the Ford Taurus Game Day House Party sparked my interest. To summarize the article, Ford partnered with HouseParty.com (a cool idea, but a terrible website, very amateur looking and slow loading) and Ford dealers to throw house parties for groups of guys across the U.S. as they watch football. The house parties were designed to promote the launch of 2010 Ford Taurus. The campaign was expected to reach about 20,000 people at 1,000 house parties. According to the article, the hosts of many of the parties would get to test drive a Taurus for the day and hosts also received a party pack that included banners, thunder sticks and a DVD featuring Fox Sports commentator Michael Strahan. Representatives from local dealers were sent to talk to hosts about the Taurus. The campaign was promoted on websites including FoxSports.com and in print. Ford received 6,000 applications. There is also a contest component and the winner will receive a new Ford Taurus. The House Party is part of a larger campaign that Ford is launching to link the Taurus with pro football. Ford did a similar campaign during American Idol for the Fusion.
As Bank of America and the National Football League work to hammer out a renewal of an official league sponsorship, talks appear to be focusing on an issue familiar to many properties— national-local sponsorship conflicts.
According to this story from the Charlotte Business Journal, first reported in Sports Business Journal, BofA and the league—more specifically, the league’s 32 individual franchises—are at odds over whether the bank will have the right to use individual team marks on its debit cards.