With hundreds of partnerships ranging from farmers markets to art festivals and pride parades, Zipcar, Inc. has long used sponsorship to demonstrate community involvement and support its brand DNA.

And the car share company continues to expand its portfolio. Zipcar this summer ran a promotion with GLAAD around which it made a $1 donation to the nonprofit for every hour one of 27 co-branded cars were on the road.

Zipcar also is expanding its partnerships with IKEA and Target Corp. The company recently aligned with IKEA on the “Zipcar Loves Design” promotion and Target’s Bullseye University, a live online back-to-school shopping platform.

The partnerships come amid a backdrop of increased competition as car rental companies enter the car sharing space. Avis Budget Group, Inc. in March closed on a nearly $500 million acquisition of Zipcar, which now operates as a subsidiary of the car rental giant.  

Below, Brian Harrington, Zipcar executive vice president and CMO, discusses the thinking behind Zipcar sponsorships, the impact of the Avis acquisition, how the company activates ties and other topics.

On Zipcar’s long-running support of community events
At Zipcar, community involvement is part of our DNA and integral to our culture.  Zipcar operates in 25 major metropolitan markets across the country and in each of them our local Zipcar teams are on the ground taking part in events and activities.

We always get excited for the opportunity to sponsor events in line with the Zipcar mission of enabling simple and responsible urban living and as we’ve grown so has our ability to participate in both hyper-local and national partnerships and sponsorships.

With the Avis acquisition, Zipcar is even better positioned to deliver on its mission of enabling simple, efficient and responsible transportation solutions on a global scale. This strategic transaction is a game-changing validation of the global potential of the car sharing category, and a huge win for Zipsters and cities around the world.

The marketing objective behind Zipcar sponsorships
Sponsorships are a great way to be a part of our local communities and in addition are an opportunity to reach prospective Zipcar members that would find value in car sharing.

When you launch into a new city, you have to have a strong sense of who you are and what you stand for as a company, and sponsorships provide an ideal platform for that message. Through the use of sponsorship and event activity, we can reach those that live and work near Zipcars with information about what car sharing is and about Zipcar’s mission to enable simple and responsible urban living.

While sponsorship provides a unique venue for acquisition, the local connection allows Zipcar to maintain our connection and growth within a community.

How Zipcar activates sponsorship
From small events to big parades, our local teams make an effort to have a presence at all the great occasions we take part in during any given year. Members of the team are on hand to answer questions and talk about Zipcar or sign up interested attendees on iPads.

If we can, we enjoy having Zipcars on hand for technology demonstrations and, depending on the event, we love to bring along some of our own fun like our “pot hole” game (Zipcar’s version of corn hole).

Recent additions to Zipcar’s sponsorship portfolio
One example of a local sponsorship is our support of the DC MEETMarket in Washington, DC. DC MEETMarket is monthly outdoor market formed with the intention of showcasing and supporting local businesses, artists, and designers while highlighting what the DC Metropolitan area has to offer. Zipcar is a proud sponsor of this celebration of community and craftsmanship.

On a national level, Zipcar recently partnered with GLAAD. Zipcar has been an active participant in support of LGBTQ equality and rights for quite a while now so working with GLAAD was a natural extension of our efforts. Zipcar branded 27 cars across the country and for every hour that a car was on the road we donated $1 to GLAAD.

Zipcar also recently teamed up with IKEA to sponsor a contest for a revamped interior space. The “Zipvan Loves Design” contest provided participants a chance to win a Zipvan full of IKEA store products to help re-create a room in their home or office. Winners were chosen based on a short video they submitted to illustrate how they would design the space with the help of Zipcar and IKEA.

In addition, Zipcar recently sponsored mini pop-up “parks” on the international Park(ing) Day on September 20th. By transforming metered parking spots into parklets, Zipcar and Park(ing) Day brought attention to the need for more urban space and fewer cars on the road in our cities.

On July 15th  Zipcar took over the “brand space” at Target’s Bullseye University. This was a live shoppable dorm room experience that was viewable online and allowed students to purchase everything they need for college, including a Zipcar membership.

Throughout the day, Target showcased how Zipcar can make the college experience easier and more fun, offered interactive games and other exciting swag. The sponsorship falls into a larger partnership with Target to provide college students with the gear and supplies they need and the wheels to get them.

Earlier in the year, Zipsters in Boston, D.C., New York, and San Francisco got the opportunity to attend special drive-in screenings of Showtime’s Dexter and Ray Donovan in their Zipcars. Over 100 Zipcar members and their passengers were treated to free Zipcar reservations to enjoy the showing.

As the world’s leading car sharing company, Zipcar continues to put community involvement as a priority in all of our cities, from Detroit to Barcelona. We all work together to keep this show on the road and we enjoy having fun and supporting our communities while we’re at it.