Something was recently brought to my attention by one of my loyal blog readers (who has no problem shooting me straight): I am a perpetual Negative Nelly in my posts. Yep, just one cynical, critical consultant throwing stones at just about everyone and everything. Thing is, when you make your living spotting potential sponsorship red flags and helping people improve their sponsorship program, you become trained to look for problems and admittedly, can overlook the good stuff.
Being a big-time believer in karma, I’d like to put something good out there too. So, this post is a step in the direction of setting my sponsorship karma right, I am actually going to talk about someone doing something well.
With the Bank of America Chicago Marathon behind us, sights are set on the next major event on the running calendar: November’s ING New York City Marathon.
Unlike those who are particularly adept runners (my running style has occasionally been compared to that of a Mack truck), I focus not on incredible feats of endurance but feats of sponsorship activation.
One of the best activation examples of the upcoming ING New York City Marathon comes to us courtesy of Toyota.
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
Let me say first that I think IHOP’s NFL sponsorship is a deal that could provide the pancake chain with numerous promotional platforms to drive traffic, enhance the brand, etc. In fact, IHOP has introduced a number of activations, which you can check out at the company’s new microsite, www.IHOP.com/NFL. However, French toast in the shape of a football just doesn’t cut it. First, even if this menu item was a good idea, IHOP didn’t need an NFL sponsorship to introduce it. Second, this menu item is a bad idea because no one over the age of 12 wants to eat food shaped like a football (or other sports equipment for that matter). more
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.
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.
P&G has stepped up sponsorship activity around its Cincinnati headquarters, signing title of Memorial Day weekend’s Taste of Cincinnati and expanding its partnership with last month’s Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon.
The soap giant activated both deals with a handful of brands, each of which gained ownership of an on-site proprietary program. For example, the Taste of Cincinnati featured the Pampers Stroller Speed lane, the Bounty Quilted Picker Uppers cleaning teams and the Old Spice Swagger Zone, a special seating area where attendees could watch Cincinnati Reds games on a giant TV.
At the Flying Pig Marathon, P&G’s Tide used branded laundry carts to pick up clothing discarded by runners, Old Spice High Endurance deodorant awarded a prize to marathoners who ran the last mile the fastest, while Mr. Clean sponsored the Clean Your Clock fastest split-time award.
The strategy makes a lot of sense: In addition to promoting its hometown presence, P&G was able to make a more meaningful connection with its target audience by integrating its products into the fabric of each event. The multi-brand strategy also allowed P&G to spread the cost of the sponsorships over multiple budgets.
Way to go, P&G. more
In his keynote titled Sponsorship, Screens and Sociology: McDonald’s Ahead of the Curve View of Marketing, Jervoe walked attendees through the quick service restaurant’s groundbreaking The Lost Ring program around its sponsorship of the ’08 Olympic Games in Beijing. more