Red Bull Stratos Lives Up to All Expectations

Red Bull pulled off the unthinkable today when it called upon skydiving expert Felix Baumgartner to attempt one of the most incredible stunts ever performed by man. As part of a Red Bull Stratos mission, Baumgartner executed a record breaking jump from the edge of space wearing a special space suit. 

During the jump, Baumgartner reached speeds of 833 miles per hour... absolutely incredible.

Will thousands around the world will debate whether the Stratos stunt will help the brand sell more product, there's no question Red Bull will see the fruits of their efforts. The stunt captured the minds and interests of consumers across the globe for several weeks and received a significant amount of media coverage from the world's largest media outlets. 

Brands are defined by consumer engagements and experiences and this will stunt alone will be something that's talked about worldwide for years to come... and aligns so closely with everything the brand stands for.

Check out the highlights from the Red Bull Stratos jump here:

UNLV Students Find a Creative Way to Market Star Players

In recent years, college athletics departments have become very agressive with their efforts to generate fan excitement during college basketball games. One tactic in particular - Big Noggins (or giant heads resembling players, celebrities, and personalities) has become an instant hit particularly with student sections seated behind the baskets. Fans use the items to distract free throw shooters and add an element of personality and surprise to the game environment.

The UNLV Athletics Department recently took it's men's basketball game environment to another level when it allowed fans to proudly display a mammoth life-sized head an upper torso picture of UNLV star Mike Moser during a game against San Diego State. The branding tactic served as an effective way to add an extra element of surprise to the game and likewise attract the attention of star recruit Shabazz Muhammad, who was seated just a few feet away. 

As teams look for new ways to engage their fanbases during games, notably student sections, they should look to recreate best practices like UNLV's Mike Moser cutout. The branding effectively promotes players and provides some incremental exposure for apparel partners in a memorable, engaging manner!

Check out the stunt below:

Forbes 30 Under 30 - Entertainment

I wanted to send a special thanks to Forbes Magazine for the inclusion in their 2011 "30 Under 30" list in the category of Entertainment. It's a true honor to be featured alongside some of the brightest and hardest working individuals in the industry.

I want to also send a special congratulations to industry friend Chris Chaney for making the list as well! If you are not familiar with Chris, he is the CEO of Chaney Sports Group, the Founder of the Ivy Sports Symposium, and one of the most genuine guys in the business.

Thank you to all the readers and avid supporters of PartnershipActivation.com and the Partnership Activation 2.0 Newsletter ... and to all my family, friends, and colleagues at GMR Marketing for their continued support.

Check back to PartnershipActivation.com for more exciting content to come!

Best Wishes,

Brian

Leverage Endorsers to Drive Buzz for Launch Dates

Brands looking for new ways to leverage notable athlete endorsers should consider using them to support product launches at retail. With a tremendous amount of buzz surrounding the release dates of video games, DVD's, shoes, phones, and apparel, ample opportunities exist for brands to film the excitement of their athlete endorsers as they head out to select retailers at midnight to pick up the newest release.

For example, EA Sports could drive a significant amount of buzz around the launch of its Madden '11 title in the social media marketplace by secretly filming NFL players heading out to their local Best Buy store locations at midnight to pick up their favorite new game the night it is released. The virals would effectively show how athletes share the same excitement as fans when purchasing their favorite video game titles and could even detail their interactions with consumers at retail. After purchasing the game, EA Sports marketers could film players opening the packaging, running to their outlandish car in the parking lot, and playing the game on televisions mounted inside the headrests, even before they get home or have to head to training camp in the morning. 

Check out a quick visual of how these virals could live - filming players as they head into the store, waiting in line to purchase the new release, stripping the packaging, sharing their excitement with fans, and playing the title for the first time:

The Panthers Let Fans Pick Their Ticket Plans

Sports organizations looking for new ways to sell existing ticket inventory should closely examine a new strategy the Florida Panthers are implementing to kick off the 2010-2011 NHL season. The team is offering "The Perfect Plan" campaign, where fans can choose their preferred seat, name the price they would like to pay, and submit it to the team for a response in less than 24 hours.

The team is currently featuring a flash page on Panthers.NHL.com that redirects to a form that fans interested in the offer can fill out. The form provides available ticket inventory (with standard pricing) and allows fans to go in and submit a live bid to the team. If the bid is accepted by the team, the consumer's credit card is automatically charged and they instantly become a member of the Florida Panthers season ticket holder family. A great concept!

 

Kia Motors Hooks Falcons Fans Up with a True Prize

Kia Motors and the Atlanta Falcons are teaming up to leverage their partnership in an unbelievable way in 2010 that truly benefits fans. The two parties are collaborating on a limited time offer that enables fans who purchase a new Kia at a participating Georgia Kia dealership to receive (2) tickets to every Atlanta Falcons home game!

To qualify, fans must complete a purchase or lease of a 2009, 2010, or 2011 Kia brand vehicle at (1) of (9) participating Kia dealerships in Georgia between July 1st and August 31st. Each person who makes a purchase will receive (2) tickets to every Falcons game during the 2010 season while supplies list.

Check out the terrific promotion on the Falcons' website here.

Manchester City FC Unveils Its New Team Foursquare Page

Sports organizations looking for new ways to tap into the social media space should consider benchmarking a recent tactic implemented by Manchester City FC of the Barclays Premier League.

Manchester City unveiled its new Official Foursquare page, where the team is planning on posting a collection of tips and specials for fans to enjoy in the coming weeks and months. The official page provides a list of Manchester City destinations where fans can check in and receive special discounts and enjoy a variety of engagement tactics.

The page, which already boasts 350+ supporters, also features a collection of links to the club's other social media channels (Facebook, Twitter) and official team home page.

MCFC has been one of the most notable early adopters of Foursquare in the sports space. The soccer club teamed up with Umbro to generate buzz for their final match of the season against Tottenham Hotspur by asking fans to "check in" at the City of Manchester Stadium via Foursquare in an effort to set a world record for the most Foursquare check-ins in a single location at one time.

To generate awareness and interest, the team posted an announcement on its home page and offered fans the chance to win (1) of (11) limited edition Blue Moon t-shirts if they added the phrase 'Umbro Blue Moon Tee Please' to the tips section of their Foursquare check-in.  

Check out the page below and consider implementing this for your organization. After all, Foursquare is here to stay!

World Cup Viewing Parties From Across the Globe

The Slideshare deck below provides a compilation of photos from 2010 World Cup Watch Parties from major cities across the globe. Fifa Fan Fests and other Watch Party events have attracted thousands of fans by offering an ultimate soccer festival experience.

The deck provides a nice visual of the powerful affinity that consumers across have for the game of football. Feel free to check it out and lend your thoughts in the comments section below!

Note: Click the "View on Slideshare" buttom in the bottom right corner of the slideshow to see the images featured in the powerpoint deck enlarged.

Create Moments of Opportunity for Fans In-Game

Sports organizations looking for new ways to reward fans attending their games should consider creating "moments of opportunity" for fans. These moments, driven by corporate partner-led promotions, are terrific because they can generate excitement during dull moments in the action and can occur at any point during the game.

As teams look for new ways to generate interest and excitement amongst fans, more are turning to these type of rewarding moments. As an example, check out a "Bud Light Quench Time" promotion recently offered by the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL. The Steelheads identified a three (3) minute period in the game where if the team scored, all fans in attendance would be treated to a discounted price on Anheuser-Busch products for the rest of the game.

Molson Brings Canadian Nationalism to the Olympics

Are you looking for new ways to build nationwide excitement? Are you looking for ways to activate at global events?

Molson Canadian featured one of the best activation footprints in all of Vancouver for the 2010 Olympic Games. The brand's "Hockey House" was a hometown fixture that turned out to be the best place for hockey fans to watch games and listen to the latest Canadian music in Vancouver. But that wasn't all the brand did to support Canada's efforts to host the Olympic Games.

Check out some of their creative activation tactics below:

Molson Canadian Hockey House

Molson Canadian Digital Guest Book

Molson Canadian Rally Book

Molson Canadian also cheered on Team Canada by creating a "Made from Canada Rally Book", filled with thousands of good luck messages from fans across Canada, that was presented to some notable Canadian official prior to the hockey team's match against Russia. Check it out below:

Molson Canadian 2010 Mural Project

Molson built a mosaic of individual fan photos spanning a 4,000 square foot section on the outside wall of the Kitsilano brewery in Vancouer. The brand collected photos submitted via the site http://www.molsoncanadian.ca/2010muralproject/ to build a surprise Olympic-themed image and message for all consumers visiting the city to see. Check out how they launched the project:

Molson Canadian "Made from Canada" Commercial

Molson unveiled one of the finest Olympics commercials of all-time in 2010. The brand's "Made from Canada" piece does an incredible job screaming patriotism. Check it out below:

Drew Brees Leads Post Super Bowl Bar Chants

Are you looking for new ways to activate at retail? Are you looking for ways to leverage athletes in bar and restaurant settings?

Check out a really cool video of Saints QB Drew Brees teaching a lucky group of faithful Saints fans his pre-game chant at a New Orleans Bar following the Super Bowl. This once-in-a-lifetime experience will be something that these Saints fans will share with their friends for years to come...

It is really exciting to see a guy like Brees be so committed to the city of New Orleans and all of the people that support him.

Check it out below:

A special thanks to David Mueller of GMR Marketing for his insights and contributions to this column.

The Bud Light House is... Real?

With a record 106.5 million viewers tuning in to watch Super Bowl XXIV, Anheuser-Busch kicked off the commercial frenzy with a pretty entertaining Bud Light House commercial. The clip detailed a group of guys touring a house made entirely of Bud Lights and hosting a party. The spot proved to be a hit with consumers, notching a 3rd place AdBowl ranking.

But while the commercial was made for pure entertainment value, do viewers ever think wonder whether the content shown in Super Bowl commercials is ever real?

In the case of the Bud Light House commercial, it is. Check out a viral piece below that shows how Bud Light and its agency partners built a real-life Bud Light House to film the spot:

The Big Game 2 Proved Huge for Samsung Mobile and Vodafone

Are you looking for effective ways to leverage premier sporting events? Are you looking to align with multiple brands to activate on-site?

Samsung Mobile and Vodafone teamed up to feature a tremendous activation campaign at the Big Game 2, a rugby match played between the Harlequins and Wasps at Twickenham Stadium in January. The two (2) brands aligned their activation efforts to support the launch of the Vodafone 360 Samsung H1 Handset, the first Samsung offering to deliver Vodafone's new social networking and entertainment Internet services.

Check out their on-site activation efforts in this terrific 5:30 video recap below!

 

Doritos Crashes the Super Bowl with a Consumer Challenge

Are you looking to create an engaging campaign that puts the creativity of consumers to the test? Are you looking for ways to leverage premier events?

With Super Bowl XLIV just weeks away, the Doritos brand has been busy capitalizing on all of the pre-game buzz with its "Crash the Super Bowl Challenge". For the fourth consecutive year, Doritos has hosted the "Crash the Super Bowl Challenge", a promotion that The promotion that offers consumers the chance to produce a :30 branded clip worthy of being featured on air live during the Super Bowl.

But in 2009-10, Doritos raised the stakes even higher than ever before. The company is offering a $5 million shared grand prize payout if three (3) of six (6) finalists can beat out the ad pros and garner the top three (3) spots in the USA Today's annual Ad Meter.

With the stakes higher than ever, Doritos received over 4,000 entries from creative individuals around the world eager to win the mega prize. From January 5-31, fans can vote for their favorite finalist at www.CrashtheSuperBowl.com for the chance to win free Super Bowl tickets... every day.

Doritos is currently featuring the videos of six (6) finalists on its site, which will be pared down to three (3) and aired down to the Super Bowl. Head to the site to check them out!

Arsenal Players Dress as Mascots for Fundraising Effort

Are you looking for new ways to drive awareness and support for charitable organizations? Are you looking to create in-game call-to-action that inspires fans in a humorous way?

Arsenal FC recently honored the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity, the team's official charity of 2009, by creating a terrific "Fundraising Day" promotional spot to inspire fans. The team is dedicating their November 29th match against Chelsea to the cause and Arsenal players and directors will be donating a day's wages to help raise funds for the team's charity - an act that is unheard of in the United States.

The team's humorous "Fundraising Day" campaign spot features four (4) players (Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott, Andrey Arshavin, and Bacary Sagna) dressed as mascots and roaming the streets in an effort to collect funds for the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity. The club hopes that the promotional vignette will help them meet their "Be a Gooner. Be a Giver" '09-'10 campaign goal of raising 500,000 euros.   

Check out the clip below:

Filming the promotional spot proved to be a hit with the team's players:

"I visited Great Ormond Street Hospital back in August so I know what this means to the charity and the patients. I encourage all supporters to follow our lead and give what they can. This advert is a bit of fun for the players and we hope supporters enjoy it, but there is a very real message in it about helping this Hospital and we hope to raise lots of money for this worthwhile cause." - Cesc Fabregas

Sources:

http://www.gosh.org/news/latest-news/2009-archive/arsenal-gosh-film/

http://www.beagoonerbeagiver.org/news/view.php?Id=1169

The Predators Celebrate Halloween with JibJab

Are you looking to create new, captivating video board vignettes? Are you looking for ways to create holiday-specific fan entertainment?

The Nashville Predators recently celebrated their Halloween matchup against the Dallas Stars by featuring a creative JibJab vignette on the jumbotron during the game. The clip centered around a Monster Mash thematic with the faces of Predator players incorporated into the mix. The clip proved to be a huge hit with fans and was later featured on the team's Facebook page for all to enjoy.

Check it out below:

Volkswagen Pushes Fuel Efficiency at the Chicago Marathon

Are you looking for new ways to make an impact on race day? Are you looking for ways to use sports to drive home fuel efficiency messaging?

As brands look for creative ways to leverage endurance events, many should take a page out of Volkswagen's playbook for the 2009 Chicago Marathon. Volkswagen was looking to promote the 42mpg fuel efficiency of the Jetta TDI Clean Diesel vehicle and decided to partner with super-athlete Dean Karnazes to send home a powerful message to viewers, onlookers, and brand enthusiasts.

To sell home the fact that the TDI Clean Diesel vehicle doesn't stop at 26.2 miles per gallon, Volkswagen asked Karnazes to not stop at 26.2 miles (1 marathon) either. In fact, they tasked him with running a distance equal to 2 straight marathons (52.4 miles). Along the way, Volkswagen generated interest by letting fans send tweets with questions and support and videotaped the entire feat. The company is also supporting the initiative with a custom microsite

Check out a video of Dean Karnazes journey below and look for more creative fuel efficiency acts from Volkswagen in the near future!

Boost Game Day Sales with Vending Machines...

Are you looking for ways to drive concessions sales while reducing staffing costs? Are you looking for new ways to enhance stadium merchandise/concessions offerings?

As stadium operators constantly look for new ways to enhance stadium concessions and the overall game day experience, they should consider some incorporating some new vending innovations. Trendhunter.com recently created a "60 Vending Machines of the Future" piece that could have some strong implications in the sports marketplace. Here are a few examples:

Offer Free Drink Vending Machines

The Apex Corp, a vending machine operator, is expected to roll out a service soon that allows consumers to receive free beverages from vending machines for watching :30 advertisements. Vending machines are being turned into a new medium for marketers to reward consumers who are willing to watch/entertain their advertisements (by paying a partial/full cost of the product).

Offer Luxury Coffee Vending Machines

Starbucks has introduced a string of Hot Drink machines to the marketplace that help the brand satisfy consumer demand in areas where their stores cannot be placed (hockey rinks, outdoor events, office break rooms, grocery retail locations, etc.). The self-serve expresso kiosks were featured in 86 Albertsons retail locations nationwide in 2008. The UK's coffee machine operator LTT Vending saw a 55% increase in sales over the past year as consumers sought cheaper alternatives to Starbucks, etc.

 

Offer Exclusive Merchandise Vending Machines

Teams should consider aligning with exclusive apparel providers to sell exclusive team apparel/merchandise in select vending machines around the concourse. From another angle, sports organizations can align with hotel chains and retail partners to feature vending machines offering limited edition merchandise at their respective locations (poolside, etc.). Quicksilver recently aligned with the standard hotel to design an exclusive line of swimwear that is sold at poolside vending machines.

Leverage Redbox (or DVDPlay)

Sports organizations should consider aligning with Redbox to feature their championship DVD's, season highlights, game tapes, and specialty shows (Behind-the-scenes looks at the Cheerleader Calendar, Mascot outtakes, etc.) in Red Box machines throughout the local marketplace. Sponsors can front load/back load these videos with sponsor messaging to help cover any upfront costs, etc.

Offer Customizable Beverage Dispensers

Coca-Cola recently unveiled a customizable drink dispenser called the "Freestyle" that enables consumers to mix and match their favorite flavors. The select Coca-Cola vending machines, which will be rolled out in California and Orgeon in 2009, will offer 140 different assortments of flavors for consumers to choose from (based on the color, calorie, and caffeine content they prefer).

Feature Sun Screen Vending Machines

Tours taking place in outdoor environments (AVP, Extreme Sports, etc.) should consider featuring Sunscreen Mist vending machines in their event footprints. The special vending machines dispense both sunscreen (in a variety of SPF's) and self-tanning products for consumers to take advantage of and enjoy. 

Feature SMS Vending Machines

Fosfor, a Belgian marketing agency, created a vending machine called the Boobox that enables consumers to receive free goodies in exchange for simply submitting a free SMS message (a way for companies to build a mobile database in an inexpensive manner if the product price is minimal). Each submitted SMS message gives a bounce back access code that can be used to order a product from the vending machine.

Player ID Card Vending Dispensers

In a partnership with a local DMV, etc. teams can feature unique vending machines in stadium concourses that enable fans to purchase fake player ID's. The team can sell the ID's (at a fixed low-dollar price point) as a collectible that fans can keep in their wallets. To fund the project, teams can sign on a title sponsor who receives branding on the back of the card, etc.

Each player's ID would mirror a drivers license (featuring their height, weight, hometown, etc.) and potentially could be redeemed for exclusive experiences, etc. This would be a very interesting concept for a marketing agency to implement in NASCAR (feature vending machines around the track where fans can purchase a fake Jeff Gordon drivers license for the chance to win a trip to the Jeff Gordon Racing School).

Feature Pizza Vending Machines

Claudio Torghele recently unveiled the world's first vending machine that makes pizza from scratch in less than three (3) minutes. The vending machine technology, called Let's Pizza, enables consumers to order custom pizzas for under five (5) dollars and watch the whole process through a glass window on the vending machine. The Let's Pizza machine could provide teams a great way to offer fans yet another concessions option while saving costs on staffing behind the counter. 

Arsenal Fans Love the EBEL Fastest Goal Contest...

Are you looking for new ways to leverage an official watch/timing partner? Are you looking for new ways to reward fans based on team milestones?

During the 2008-09 season, Arsenal FC teamed up with its Official Timing Partner, Ebel, to create the Ebel Fastest Goal Competition. The team ran a monthly contest from August until April that tasked Arsenal fans with guessing when the team's fastest goal would take place each month.

The entrant with the closest prediction each month received a free Ebel prize and a one (1) year subscription to Arsenal TV Online. At the close of the promotion, the person with the most accurate guess also received a personalized Ebel watch (valued at $4,150 euros) alongside the Arsenal player that scored the fastest goal at a home match.

Some of the promotion's stipulations include:

  • Only residents of the United Kingdom could apply to win (and must be 18+ years of age)
  • Consumers may only enter to win once per month
  • The registered timing of the Arsenal goals would be based on the official Premier League statistics
  • If more than one correct entry is received, the winner will be chosen by a random drawing 

Ebel signed a five (5) year partnership agreement with Arsenal FC in 2007 that included the following elements:

  • Two (2) giant clocks on both sides of the stadium's first tier that reference the precise time substitutions occur, how much extra time there is in the match, and other notable moments
  • High-tech field boards that feature their name at strategic moments of the game (that will be visible on television)
  • The development of a mechanical watch designed specifically for football and inspired by the world of Arsenal
  • A press conference to announce the partnership featuring Thierry Henry and Gisele Bundchen 

In 2009, Ebel is running a similar "Fastest Goal Competition" with the FC Bayern Munich and AJAX soccer clubs (see the official website HERE).

Other sports properties should consider leveraging their official watch/timing partners to create similar promotions:

  • Hockey - Fastest Goal, Save, Check, etc.
  • Baseball - Fastest Home Run, Strike, Strikeout
  • Football - Fastest Sack, Touchdown, Reception
  • Basketball - Fastest Field Goal, Three-Point Field Goal, Block, Steal
  • Tennis - Fastest Ace

LetsGoSharks.com Goes Guerrilla in Anaheim...

Are you looking for ways to implement a guerrilla marketing stunt in-arena? Are you looking for ways to drive awareness support in a competitor's arena?

During the 2009 NHL Playoffs, LetsGoSharks.com featured a creative guerrilla signage stunt at the Honda Center, home of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. The tactic, designed to drive awareness and support for the Sharks organization (specifically LetsGoSharks.com), featured two (2) rows of Sharks fans doing  a chomping motion with large-sized shark teeth.

LetsGoSharks.com's guerrilla tactic served as an effective way to drive awareness at a competitor's arena and provides a benchmark example for ways that companies with small marketing budgets can drive some incremental visibility in-venue (those without partnership rights will likely get caught and removed but it might be worth the shot).

Check out LetsGoSharks.com's in-venue guerrilla tactic below: