In today’s challenging sponsorship sales environment, properties need to do all they can to add value to packages for prospective and existing partners.

But according to a number of sponsors contacted by IEG SR, far too many properties still miss the boat when it comes to a key way of creating additional value: facilitating cross-promotions among their sponsors.

Sponsors’ have long had appreciation and respect for properties that proactively brainstorm and help to facilitate cross-promotions, and the demand for such assistance has only grown higher in today’s budget-challenging environment.

“As rights fees continue to escalate, we are able to make our activation budget go a lot further if we can spread the costs among other like-minded partners,” said US Bancorp corporate sponsorship manager Dennis Bash, who oversees sponsorships in 14 states in the western portion of the bank’s 24-state footprint.

In addition to stretching activation dollars, cross-promotions benefit sponsors in other ways, including the opportunity to gain exposure in nontraditional marketing channels and earn positive rub-off through association with well-regarded companies and brands.

Bash cited a successful Pac-10 Conference cross-promotion from several years ago that earned US Bank exposure on pump toppers at ConocoPhillips Co.’s “76” gas stations. The “Catch the Vibe” promo also touted the bank through the marketing channels of participating cosponsors Verizon Wireless and General Motors Co.’s Pontiac Vibe.

Helping sponsors save money helps properties build relations with their partners. “Like everything right now, every deal needs to work harder, and cross-promotions play a key role in making a deal extend further,” said Wade Martin, CEO of Alli, the Alliance of Action Sports, the umbrella organization for the Dew Tour, Winter Dew Tour, Free Flow Tour and other action sports events.

Live Nation senior vice president, alliances, Daniel Hilbert agreed with the important role cross-promotions can play for the property.

Citing an autumn ’09 cross-promotion between The Coca-Cola Co. and one of its retail partners that also is a Live Nation sponsor, Hilbert said the entertainment giant’s ability to “integrate its assets for two of its clients resulted in reinforcing not only the strength of its property and brand proposition, but also its value as a solid strategic marketing partner. Those are two critical metrics that are required in today's competitive marketplace.”

Coke and the national retail chain conducted a trade incentive program for the retailer’s sales associates to drive bundled product sales of Coca-Cola beverages with snack products. Using shared Live Nation assets as the incentives, the program resulted in triple-digit percentage growth for bundled sales, Hilbert said.

In addition to adding value for sponsors, cross-promotions also can benefit properties by encouraging sponsors to activate, including partners reluctant to do so.

“Rightsholders can let sponsors dip their toe in the activation water by working with other parties,” Bash said. “If it’s a good promotion, then they may be more likely to do things on their own.”

Below, IEG SR looks at recent or upcoming cross-promotions among cosponsors of four properties: the USTA’s US Open; the Winter Dew Tour; the NFL Denver Broncos and the ING New York City Marathon.

US Open Helps Sponsors Build On Existing Activations By Teaming Up
The USTA helped facilitate three new cross-promotions around last year’s US Open, including a partnership between American Express Co. and Polo Ralph Lauren Corp.

While AmEx has had an extensive activation program around the Open for years, including rewarding consumers who use their cards for on-site purchases with event merchandise, the company took the program to the next level by teaming with Polo to offer a $50 gift card to consumers who spent $100 on their cards at the tournament.

“It was a win-win. Consumers spent money on their American Express card, they went to a Polo retail store to use the gift card, and hopefully they spend more than $50 and put the rest on their AmEx card,” said Deanne Pownall, the USTA’s senior director of partnership marketing.

Although AmEx initiated the Ralph Lauren tie-in, the USTA was the catalyst for a new partnership that married existing activations by sponsors Continental Airlines, Inc. and Olympus Corp. of the Americas.

Continental allows its One Pass frequent-flier program members to use miles to bid on once-in-a-lifetime experiences at the Open. Olympus includes the event as part of sports photography photo safaris offered to trade customers.

The USTA put the two together for a cross-promotion that offered One Pass members the opportunity to bid on a photo safari. The promotion gave Olympus exposure on the airline’s Web site.

“Continental was looking for some new experiences, and Olympus loved it because they’re always looking for new ideas for consumer promotional activity,” said Rich McCarthy, the USTA’s director of partnership marketing.

Also in ’09, the USTA helped facilitate a cross-promotion between Electronic Arts Inc. and Heineken USA Inc. to promote the launch of EA Sports’ Grand Slam Tennis video game. Looking to expand its role with the USTA beyond its sponsorship of the Olympus US Open Series, the video game manufacturer signed a new deal with the US Open last year.

It activated the tie with a cross-promotion with Heineken that included video game competitions at local restaurants and bars in the New York City area. Winners from those competitions then competed against John McEnroe at gaming stations set up in the new Heineken Light Lounge on the grounds of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the home of the US Open.

Winter Dew Tour Incorporates Cross-promotions Into Sales Efforts
Helping to connect Dew Tour sponsors Wendy’s Int’l, Inc. and Ubisoft Entertainment was key to upselling the companies on also becoming involved with the Winter Dew Tour, according to Martin.

“Wendy’s was looking for an opportunity to bring the sponsorship to life and they saw a partnership with Ubisoft as a way to do that,” Martin said.

The quick service restaurant chain—which titled last weekend’s Wendy’s Invitational tour stop in Ogden, Utah—has teamed with video game maker Ubisoft in a multi-faceted program around the Winter Dew Tour. The partnership gives Wendy’s a presence in the Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage game, a retail promotion at GameStop Corp., and sampling opportunities at the Winter Dew Tour’s three stops.

Denver Broncos Link Partners With Similar Audiences
With a property that has a wide-ranging fan base and sponsors that have divergent objectives, the Broncos have found it beneficial to look for companies that target similar demographics when brainstorming cross-promotions.

For example, the team is developing a promotion between Lowe’s Cos. and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc., both of which are targeting families with children.

Red Robin will offer Denver-area consumers in its email database a $5 discount on memberships to the team’s Broncos Bunch presented by Lowe’s kid’s club.

“Red Robin will provide its customers added value, and we can go to Lowe’s and show them they have branding in a new place that is attributable to their Broncos partnership,” said Brady Kellogg, the team’s senior director of corporate partnerships.

ING New York City Marathon Involves Cosponsors In Title Partner Program
New York Road Runners—the organizer of the ING New York City Marathon—ties in cosponsor products and coupons to incent consumers to participate in title sponsor ING U.S. Financial Services’ five-month-long ING Financial Fitness Series events.

Participating sponsors included ASICS Corp., the Hospital for Special Surgery and Continental Airlines.

NYRR promoted the series and participating sponsors through multiple channels, including running events, its Web site and magazine, said Ann Wells Crandall, senior vice president of business development.

The marathon has increased its number of sponsor cross-promotions over each of the past three years, she added.