Even those who don’t follow sports regularly might have heard about the plight of Caster Semenya, the South African track star whose ambiguous gender created a major controversy at this year’s world championships. In the fallout, Athletics South Africa (ASA) bore much of the blame for its bungling of the matter. So it wasn’t surprising when financial services company Nedbank announced it was terminating its five-year sponsorship of ASA’s road running event series. Though the bank has pointed to the declining quality of the events as the primary reason, the Semenya debacle seems to have played at least some role in accelerating the decision.
The reaction in South Africa has been surprising. I would have expected such news to spawn additional criticism of ASA and its leadership. Instead Julius Malema, leader of the youth wing of the African National Congress, called for a boycott of Nedbank. Malema contends that Nedbank is shirking its responsibility to support the South African community and points to this as an example of—in his view—Nedbank’s history of racist policies and practices.
It was a sad day in the Kapraun household. With the start of the official NFL season I decided to conduct my own unscientific sponsor research. So, last week, during dinner, I asked my husband if he could name any NFL sponsors. He responded by saying “What’s a sponsor?” I was floored. How could he not know what a sponsor is? I was specifically looking for him to name some NFL league sponsors, but I would have accepted team sponsors as well. In response, I named some NFL league sponsors and he said “oh, yeah”, meaning that when prompted, he knew there was an association between those companies and the NFL.
A few days later I asked him if he could name any NASCAR sponsors and he rattled off at least a handful of sponsors including both series and several team/driver sponsors. At that point, I was feeling like not all hope was lost. However, how did the concept of a sponsor get lost between NASCAR and the NFL? Why would he know what companies sponsor one property and then not even understand what a sponsor is when connected to another property?
Hyperlocal involvement is a growing trend in the marketing world, and which could be readily applied to sponsorship as well.
Hyperlocal is, as the name suggests, the effort to focus on extremely local markets. For sponsorship, I apply the term micro-sponsorship to encapsulate both local market activity and sponsorship of small properties that may cover more than a single market.
Sponsorship has in essence always been hyperlocal. For years it has bankrolled local fairs, festivals, sporting events and other endeavors. However, for big name companies, these smaller sponsorships have taken the backseat to platforms that can be marketed nationwide. more
I wrote about the resurgence of the auto industry in a recent post, but I’m revisiting the topic because it’s gaining even more momentum.
Two recent examples of new spending:
GM/Buick LaCrosse. GM recently inked new deals with a handful of art, film and culinary events to generate a buzz around the redesigned Buick LaCrosse and the vehicle’s early ’10 launch.
After reading Jim Andrews’ take on IHOP’s NFL-themed menu last month, I wondered what could incite such a passionate screed against stuffed French toast. And so it was that I found myself walking into an IHOP on a recent Sunday morning for the first time in nearly a decade.
Upon walking in the door, I was greeted by two smiling hostesses wearing NFL team jerseys. When I sat down, I received the regular menu, as well as a special menu featuring the NFL-themed items such as a line of Quarterback Scrambles and the much-maligned AFC and NFC French toast and pancakes. Cheesy? Yes. But it got my attention, which is what these promotions are designed to do.
As the tennis season winds down, one sponsorship stands out in my mind as particularly interesting.
Video game maker EA Sports partnered with the Olympus U.S. Open Series for the first time to promote its Grand Slam Tennis title.
I find this sponsorship intriguing because despite the game’s subject matter, the tennis crowd is not normally the demographic that game makers covet. However, I took a closer look and some important details came to light that reveal it would be a mistake for tennis properties to scratch gaming completely off their prospective sponsor category list.
Tough times call for drastic measures. Unquestionably the tough economy has led pro sports leagues and teams to make difficult decisions regarding both their brand and their bottom line. Although the practice was once uniformly (no pun intended) considered taboo stateside, the NBA and NFL have carved out an additional revenue opportunity for their teams by allowing them to sell sponsorship to their practice jerseys.
In one recent week, the NBA’s New Jersey Nets and Phoenix Suns, as well as the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, signed deals providing sponsors the rights to their practice jerseys and coaches’ apparel.
Although these deals have created quite a buzz in the sports business world, I question what relevance (past the initial media coverage/shock value) these sponsorships will have with sports fans and consumers.
With everyone chatting (if not yelling) about the pros and cons of health care reform, I thought I’d take a minute to address one potential positive for the sponsorship industry: more spending by health insurers.
Like other players, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida is developing marketing strategies that address the potential outcome of health care reform. The company believes any hint of mandated coverage could prompt new sponsorship spending.
I attended my first US Open during Labor Day weekend. I have been to several sporting events, but this was the largest and most prestigious event that I’ve ever attended.
My first memorable exposure to a sponsorship (not related to the US Open) was on my flight to New York. We flew Southwest Airlines and the plane was branded with NBA marks and logos including all of the NBA teams’ logos on the overhead bins. Southwest also placed NBA marks near the exterior of the cabin door and in the in-flight magazine. Although, it was mostly just visual activation, it was somewhat unexpected, so fairly memorable. Plus, there isn’t much else to look at for the duration of the flight.
As mentioned in parts one and two of the series, of all of the categories of tangible benefits (both measured and non-measured) that I come across, valuing “can’t buy” hospitality, unique access opportunities or interactive/highly-integrated benefits are some of the hardest tangible benefits to value. Of course, these also happen to be some of the most valuable pieces of a sponsorship package.
The third part of the series concentrates on on-site interactive or highly-integrated opportunities. Many of the principles for valuing VIP hospitality and unique access opportunities apply to interactive/highly-integrated opportunities. Keep in mind, there isn’t always a clear delineation between categories; the line can be a little blurry.