While the auto category has taken a major hit this year, recent activity seems to indicate the industry may be coming back to life.
One early indicator: The return of ride-and-drive programs.
For example, Lexus last weekend hosted test drive events at Old Fisherman’s Wharf and other locations in Monterey, Calif.
“We’re seeing a resurgence in the auto category after pretty much nothing in the first two quarters,” said Beth Schnitzer, executive vice president for the California Partnership Marketing Group, which executed the program.
Other recent initiatives include:
While many festivals, sports teams and other types of events have long had informal relationships with other properties, the economy has prompted more property-to-property collaboration than ever before.
Property-to-property relationships can either be full-blown sponsorships, or more informal “friend of the festival” types of partnerships.
Those types of relationships can often help properties promote their events to new audiences or generate business-building opportunities.
An unintentional underlying subject matter in some of my recent blog posts has been brands (sponsors) that have created their own interactive consumer programs/properties (sponsorship opportunities). These companies, instead of partnering with an existing organization, choose to forge their own way.
There is a long list of companies that have created their own experiential consumer programs. Red Bull is always a shining example when it comes to sponsor owned or created properties including Red Bull Racing, New York Red Bulls, Team Red Bull and Red Bull Flutag. Other companies that come to mind are Burton (Burton U.S. Open, Burton European Open), New Belgium Brewery (Tour de Fat), Nike (Nike + Human Race) and Virgin Mobile (Virgin Festival).
Properties looking for a good way to whet the interest of potential sponsors should consider offering proprietary platforms that give companies “ownership” of part of an event.
That ownership can come in many forms, ranging from title of a cooking area at a food festival to naming rights to an entrance at a sports complex, state fair, or community festival.
Two things I saw this week have prompted me to conclude that I would love to see more sponsors utilizing the element of surprise. First is a viral video that has been spreading in the music community of band Bon Iver spontaneously performing an a capella version of a song in a Paris hallway and taking to the city streets to perform as they meander along the sidewalks with fellow passersby (seen here). Second is the concept of flash mobs (more info here) which I’ve been reading up on after some debate about these events resurfaced in the press last week.
The reason these two things are being talked about and gaining buzz is because they are unexpected. You don’t expect to see a professional rock band completely unguarded and accessible, playing on foot for anyone who cares to stop and listen. You also don’t expect to run into 200 people in Grand Central who, without notice, freeze in various positions of daily activity and then return to what they were doing as if nothing ever happened.
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.
I came across this story the other day about a Detroit-area arts festival that will need to start charging attendees a $2 gate fee after having lost Chrysler as a major benefactor. A $2 fee probably won’t prevent anyone from checking out the event. However, it might make repeat visits less likely—potentially threatening the success of other sponsors, vendors and the event’s charitable beneficiaries.
While we prefer to talk about how sponsors enhance the event, now might be a perfect time for hurting properties to start educating their audiences on sponsors’ bottom-line impact. More importantly, audiences need to know what they can do to help keep those sponsors coming back.
Flush times might have actually made it harder to convince consumers that sponsors were really making a difference. But a reality check is in order, particularly for those who pride themselves on being impervious to marketing. If people want their experiences subsidized by companies, they need to step up with their wallets.
I’ve recently received a number of requests for examples of good post-event fulfillment reports, and I came across a great one today with Chicago’s Lollapalooza music festival.
If you’re not already giving your sponsors post-event fulfillment reports, do it. Without a doubt, the reports play an incredibly important role in your sponsor renewal efforts. And in these tough economic times, properties that don’t produce reports are at risk of losing their sponsors.
Case in point: According to the IEG/Performance Research Sponsorship Decision-Makers Survey, post-event reports are ranked as the most important service provided by a property, valued more highly than research on sponsor recall and loyalty, among other services.
I am hearing from many associations that selling sponsorship for their conferences and events is rough at the moment. Travel and conference/educational budgets seem to still be frozen by some organizations. Obviously, this affects the attendance numbers for some conferences but there seems to be more behind the lack of sponsorship.
Every sponsor is under increased internal scrutiny regarding the dollars they spend. It seems this scrutiny has cast a shadow over their desire to stay active with association conference and event sponsorship. Sponsors are looking for a change in the typical conference benefits such as logo ID on signage and their logo on a bag. Those benefits are no longer justification for spending. So what are sponsors looking for?
Here are five suggestions:
Those who follow the NBA may have picked up on this story about the Los Angeles Lakers championship parade’s being privately funded, with as much as $900,000 donated by wealthy Angelenos.
While I applaud the donors—including several successful businesspeople who might have an interest in currying favor with the government and public—I have to ask, “Where are the sponsors?” For the entire season, Lakers sponsors would have been positioned to fans as the team’s biggest backers. Now, at a huge celebration of the team’s accomplishments, those sponsors are overshadowed by business magnates getting all the press (though no sponsorship rights). more