Prior to yesterday’s announcement, if I had been asked to guess the name of Lance Armstrong’s next major sponsor I probably would have gone through at least a couple of hundred other companies before getting to RadioShack. I mean let’s face it, RadioShack isn’t a major blip on most folks’ radar screens. I still think of it as “a Tandy Corporation company” even though my just-completed tour of the Web site informs me the Tandy name disappeared nine years ago.
So what to make of this new alliance? As with all sponsorship speculation, those of us outside the parties to the agreement are at a disadvantage without knowing the specific deal points, the company’s business priorities, etc. But that hasn’t stopped us before, has it?
I’m coming down on the side of this being a good deal for the sponsor. The RadioShack brand is currently pretty irrelevant. Whether you admire Lance for his amazing accomplishments and comeback from cancer, or think he and/or his sport are not on the up-and-up, he is most certainly relevant. The association with him will bring attention to RadioShack in a way that spending probably twice as much on a NASCAR or other pro sports league would not.
According to WARC.com, a new survey from Ipsos Marketing says over 80% of global consumers are interested in trying new food, beverage, household and personal products. In the face of unfavorable economic times, during which many companies cut back R & D spending, companies bold enough to launch something new have an audience.
Seems to me that a few partnership teams got a jump on this insight by going beyond “traditional sponsorship” to create something new for consumers and/or business customers. Of course the technology space is chock full of inventions through partnership. To mention a few:
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.
A typical consumer target audience for an advertising or marketing campaign usually looks something like this: women, ages 25-54, with a household income $50,000+. The target geography is defined (e.g., national, top 20 DMA’s) and maybe there is something about household size, presence of children or stated ethnicity. For good measure, a target audience may also include some other sort of purchasing behavior, usage behavior, or other ownership criteria, such as “consumes soft drinks five times a week” or is a “heavy-user” of soft drinks.
As marketers we try to create a picture of our target audience by creating a lifestyle analysis or by developing some sort of “day in the life” exercise. I remember a particular time when I presented a media “day in the life/lifestyle” scenario to a client, only to have him protest the inclusion of the band U2 in the audience profile. He was certain that his target audience didn’t listen to U2. Besides the fact that U2 is super, super popular rock band, the scenario was meant to be directional, and honestly we didn’t have any really firm data to dispute or confirm the conclusion.
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
In this time of economic uncertainty, Bayer and its One A Day vitamins for men are enhancing the brand’s MLB sponsorship. This year will be the second year of the Strikeout Prostate Cancer Challenge in which Bayer donates $10 for every MLB strikeout. It has added additional MLB spokespeople; increased advertising, player appearances and media tours; and included blue wristbands and blue ribbon decals worn by MLB coaches and players on Father’s Day. All this on top of a program that in 2008 generated $328,840 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, in support of prostate cancer research.
Recently, I shared my thoughts regarding an article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review on the subject of cause marketing. I want to be clear about my position on cause marketing. It is great for society! For all those who suffer from prostate cancer, or any other disease, we need more Bayer’s in this world. The funds generated through cause marketing programs like the Strikeout Prostate Cancer Challenge are vital in society’s ongoing fight against all forms of suffering.
So today I not only salute Bayer for its work, I challenge every other corporation around the globe, if they are not already doing so, to join in the fight against human suffering through cause marketing! more
While the ongoing recession has forced banks, automotive and other types of companies to scale back their sponsorship spend, properties are finding more interest from one unexpected source: “sin” companies.
Beer, wine, casinos and other types of companies that market products with potential negative implications have recently gone gangbusters on sponsorship, aligning with everything from community festivals to nonprofits and college athletic programs. more
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.
According to the latest projections from IEG Sponsorship Report, worldwide sponsorship spending on amateur and professional tennis tournaments and sanctioning bodies will total $581 million in ’09, a 1.3 percent increase from ’08.
Pressured by the global economic downturn and fallout from cutbacks in the financial services and automotive categories, the increase is down significantly from the eight percent rise in ’08 and 10 percent increase in ’07.
Case in point: The ATP Los Angeles Open is going without a title sponsor this summer following the loss of mortgage crisis poster child Countrywide Financial Corp., which was purchased by Bank of America Corp. last year. more