Call it Sponsorship 4.0 or whatever else you like, the next generation of the medium is here, arriving faster than anyone expected.

Technological and social change has swept away much of what worked in the past, forcing brand and property marketers to rethink assumptions, develop completely different strategies and find unmatched new tools to reach markets that are no longer mass and audiences that may be live or virtual.

In a world where traditional boundaries are collapsing and sponsorship encompasses activities never before under its umbrella, the key to success will be drilling deep to make the one-on-one connections that count.

Thus the theme of IEG’s 24th annual conference on sports, entertainment, event, experience, affinity and cause marketing is The Next Big Thing Will Be a Million Little Things.

The event will take place from March 11 to 14, 2007 in Chicago.

The conference’s keynote speakers represent widely divergent, completely unique and utterly compelling views on business, marketing, and communities big and small:

Jane Goodall, founder, The Jane Goodall Institute, who will go beyond her study of wild chimpanzees in Africa to discuss how businesses can and should effect social and ecological change. Using her own experiences as examples, the inspirational icon also will share the ways nonprofits and businesses can work together to further each group’s respective missions.

Joseph Jaffe, president and chief interruptor, crayon, and author of Life After the 30-second Spot: Energize Your Brand with a Bold Mix of Alternatives to Traditional Advertising, who will discuss why traditional advertising is dead and marketers must reinvent themselves for the new reality. Jaffe will define the future of the industry, and deliver practical and actionable real-world solutions for marketers who not only want to survive, but thrive.

Jim McDowell, vice president, MINI USA division of BMW of North America, LLC, who despite the lack of a large budget or major media commitments has found a way to forge emotional bonds with owners, will discuss why it’s important to understand that it is the people who buy and use products, not marketers, who have control over brands.

Mark Shapiro, president and CEO, Six Flags, Inc., who will discuss his vision for building consumer entertainment brands, and how Six Flags has made promotional partnerships with blue-chip companies such as The Home Depot, Inc. and Eastman Kodak Co. a key part of transforming its parks into entertainment destinations for the whole family. The former head of ESPN’s programming and production also will talk about the role partners can play in building both attendance and affinity in a fiercely competitive marketplace.

Although they represent a range of experiences, backgrounds and portfolios, the conference’s presenters all share the fact that they represent the best and most forward-thinking programs and ideas:

Ray Bednar, senior vice president, global sponsorship marketing executive, Bank of America Corp., who will talk about how the company is raising the bar in evaluating the marketing assets in its portfolio, analyzing how they perform against objectives and conducting a financial analysis to see how they stack up versus each other and other communications platforms.

Andrew Coleman, manager of special events and venues, Diageo North America, Inc., who oversees the spirits company’s sponsorships in nine western states, will discuss how the company maximizes its local opportunities, ties brand-specific promos into its sponsorships and measures bottom-line impact on- and off-premise.

Erik du Plessis, CEO, Millward Brown South Africa, who will provide insight into how our brains work and respond to advertising. Author of The Advertised Mind, he will explore the science of the mind as the basis for a new theory for the design of effective marketing communications, highlighting key issues for brands and media, both new and old.

Steve Jett, national truck advertising and events marketing manager, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc., who will discuss the role of emotion in persuading consumers to consider a brand; why Toyota has moved to doing fewer, bigger, better programs while still maintaining partnerships with scores of grassroots properties; and how the company has established metrics that enable it to measure its success.

Peter Laatz, manager of entertainment marketing, Miller Brewing Co., will examine how the brewer’s shift in sponsorship strategy–focusing on providing relevant experiences and engaging consumers instead of having presence everywhere–has helped the company establish memorable consumer connections and gain support from its distributors.

Kim Lloyd, senior director of global marketing, McDonald’s Corp., on how one of the world’s best-known brands uses a wide range of global and national sponsorships to maintain relevancy among its diverse customer base and ensure its consumers make the right connections with the brand’s current positioning and values. Lloyd also will discuss how the company relies on sponsorship to drive store traffic, showcase its interest in health and nutrition and engage employees.

Jon Maron, senior director, marketing communications, LG Electronics MobileComm U.S.A., Inc., who will share how LG’s sponsorships have played a key role in the brand’s transformation, and why programs like the LG Action Sports World Tour and a partnership with Cirque du Soleil’s Delirium have helped LG become number three in the U.S. wireless handset market.

Stefan Nerpin, vice president of group marketing communications, Vattenfall AB, who will share how the Swedish energy company uses sponsorship to bolster both local community support and pan-European recognition as it unifies a number of acquired electricity and heating brands under a common banner.

Rob Norman, CEO global, MEC Interaction, who leads the digital and direct response unit of mediaedge:cia, will advise sponsors and properties on how to take advantage of the slew of new digital options such as podcasts, electronic games and consumer-generated media that can make sponsorships more interactive and more effective.

Jed Pearsall, president, and Bill Doyle, vice president, Performance Research–leaders in sponsorship research for more than two decades–will use a series of real-life case studies to show what triggers brand loyalty, how to view a property through the audience’s eyes, the relevancy of sponsor recall, and how to achieve consistently positive results.

Jay Roten, director-sponsorships and events, AT&T Inc., who will discuss the implications of category convergence for his company and the properties it sponsors. He also will address the requirements of broad exclusivity and product integration in today’s ultra-competitive telecommunications market, as well as how the company activates deals from a diverse portfolio.

Carlos Uranga, chief marketing officer, Grupo Modelo, S.A. de C.V., who will discuss how the brewer has reassessed its sponsorship selection process, negotiating strategies, activation methods and measurement metrics to become more disciplined in its approach and earn bigger returns.

Workshops will be conducted by best-practice sponsors and cutting-edge sellers, including:

Cat Lift TrucksBrian Young on strategies the company has used to leverage its B2B marketing opportunities and see a 3-to-1 return on investment.

CrocsBill Cottam on how the footwear brand launched its college portfolio and debuted 22 new sponsorships while maintaining its brand identity.

HSBC Bank Canada’s Brita Cloghesy on how to do more with less and ensure your partnerships are aligned with the interests of your customers and prospects.

Motorola’s Bruce Hawver and Burton SnowboardsBryan Johnston on the ground-breaking, example-setting collaboration between the two industry trailblazers.

PETCO’s Clint White on what has–and has not–worked for the company’s partnerships and how to more effectively use rights and benefits.

UPSLaura Kouns on how to use sponsorship to achieve multiple benefits concurrently, including motivating staff, deepening bonds with business customers and driving Web traffic.

American Heart Assn.’s Kathy Rogers on how to add passion to your property to attract new and bigger corporate partnerships.

American Society of Assn. Executives & The Center for Assn. Leadership’s Liz Ware on how to get everyone in an organization on board to create a streamlined sponsorship selling machine.

Atlanta Jazz Festival’s Valarie Benning-Barney on how to infuse new life into a sleepy sponsorship program and attract up-and-coming sponsors.

Indianapolis Zoo’s Eric Snow on how sponsorship and development staffs can partner together to generate more revenue from both departments.

NASCAR’s Jim O’Connell on how to create a B2B council among sponsors.

NFL–Canada’s Daniel J. Quinn on how to sell when you have few assets to offer.

Self Storage Assn.’s Michael T. Scanlon, Jr. on the four steps that have allowed his organization to increase its sponsorship revenue more than tenfold in less than three years.

Victoria and Albert Museum’s Nicole Newman on how integrated communications campaigns have generated new sponsors and revenue for the museum and boosted traffic and sales for partners.

Plus:

• Advice and insights on new media, activation, integration, how to grow properties and ethnic marketing from Chris Russo, CR Media Ventures; Richard Yaffa, The Leverage Group; Guy Borgford, Real/RollingStone.com; Joel Heath, Untraditional Marketing; and Kevin Finke; The Vidal Partnership, respectively.

• A series of in-depth workshops for both sponsors and properties, led by IEG’s senior analysts and consultants on a variety of critical and cutting-edge topics.

• A first-time sponsor summit, strictly for sponsors and their agencies, led by Dartmouth College branding guru Kevin Lane Keller.

• One-on-one guaranteed 15-minute meetings with one of our Sponsors In Residence for every paid attendee.

• A five-hour pre-conference Activating and Measuring Sponsorship’s ROI seminar for sponsors and properties led by IEG chairman Lesa Ukman.

Further details regarding The Next Big Thing can be found at www.IEG2007.com.