For major sports and entertainment properties, sponsors spend millions of dollars to build brand equity. Yet, IEG tells us that 43% make no effort to determine if goals are met and another 39% spend one percent or less of the sponsorship budget to measure ROI/ROO. That leaves only 18% who might have a clue, or at least are trying to have a clue or two, whether or not the sponsorship investment is paying off. At the same time, sponsors count assistance in measuring ROI/ROO the #1 most valuable service that can be provided by properties.
Progressive properties such as the Pittsburgh Penguins, Madison Square Garden, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Kings, San Diego Padres, and the Houston Dynamo make concerted efforts to help educate sponsors on best practices to create and measure sponsorship activation. These properties understand that it’s more than gaining exposures to eyeballs. If that’s all the sponsor wants, they can buy mass advertising for far less than sponsorships.
The primary goal of sponsorships is for the fan’s passion to transfer to the brand. In chapter 13, we explain the process of the Affinity Transfer Model© (ATM), explaining what we already know about what connect the sponsor with the property in the minds of fans. Given the importance of sponsorship activation, the remainder of the chapter covers the tools available to create effective activation strategies. Chapter 14 completes our explanation of the sponsor’s ATM and explains how the property-brand partnership should jointly execute and measure the success of the activation strategy.
Chapter 13: Transferring Fan Passion
In a land far away, in a time long ago, corporations sponsored sports and entertainment properties with the primary objective of increasing brand awareness and generating goodwill. From this perspective, awareness is the necessary first step in a hierarchy of effects model (Table 13.1), wherein consumers move from awareness of the brand, to interest, then desire, and subsequent action to purchase the brand. Of course, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that even your dog is aware of brands like Coke, McDonald’s, American Airlines, AT&T, and Budweiser. Cats, in case you are wondering, don’t really care. So, except for unknown brands who break into sponsorship, such as Go-Daddy’s initial sponsorship of the Super Bowl, we can see that awareness isn’t the objective for most of today’s corporate sponsors.
Chapter 14: Sponsorship Partners & ROI
In Chapter 13, we established that fan passion leads to attendance and media consumption, providing the opportunity for the property to activate the sponsoring brand(s) in the minds of fans. The brand becomes active in the minds of fans when the property:
- prominently displays the brand at events and through related media,
- offers memorable game day activities,
- communicates ways to do business with the brand,
- helps build relationships with individual fans through data capture, and
- engages fans to actively learn about the brand.
Pizza Hut’s partnership with NCAA sports effectively accomplishes these goals. Pizza Hut distributes pizzas at games, is displayed on the scoreboard, and offers fans of NCAA football teams to participate in the Ultimate Fan contest to win tickets to a premium game, $250 gift certificate to the university’s bookstore, and free pizza and wings for a year. When fans go online to register for the contest, Pizza Hut builds relationships with individual fans. The game day activities and contests actively engage fans to learn about Pizza Hut’s Wingstreet offerings.
Chapter 15 Selling Partnerships
The overarching point of this chapter is that selling and buying sponsorships is based on relationships. How do you develop good relationships? Well, for one thing, you don’t make marriage proposals on the first date. That’s essentially what you are doing if you come in with a prepared proposal before ever sitting down to get to know the decision-makers representing the sponsor. Instead, come in with a blank notepad or iPad and listen. Then, hope you can get a second date.
What are you listening for? On the first visit, sponsors should share and properties should listen for five key areas of the sponsor’s marketing strategy. These five elements can also frequently be uncovered through good precall research on the company:
- Target market
- Key market areas
- Budget period
- Engagement vs. Exposures