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    NASCAR and INDYCAR Should Look to Formula 1 For Activation Best Practices

    In the world of motorsports, it's extremely important that NASCAR and INDYCAR officials look to benchmark best practices from Formula 1 and other racing organizations around the world. The next few years will prove to be a critical time for both sports, which face a number of key challenges despite showing signs of growth in 2011.

    While attendance, ratings, competition, and renewed interest has returned in both sports, several key challenges have emerged that will shape the sports' growth over the next few years. These challenges include demographic shifts, the evolution of the fan/stadium experience, and shifts in fan perception. Particularly, both sports will need to develop aggressive marketing campaigns targeting youth, multicultural segments (Hispanic, urban, etc.) as well as strategic social/digital media plans with a renewed focus on integrating new technologies.

    As NASCAR and INDYCAR look to refine their approaches to grow their sport, both entities should look to adopt several tactics from Formula 1 tracks, race teams, and sponsors. The sport prides itself on technology, innovation, high-end experiences, activation, and amenities, and more.

    Check out a few videos below that detail the Formula 1 FanZone experience, which includes several tactics that should soon become prevalent in racing in North America!

    The F1 FanZone in Abu Dhabi (2011)

    The F1 FanZone in Melbourne, Australia (2011)

    The F1 FanZone in Abu Dhabi (2010)


    Dairy Queen Partners with the Penguins on an Official Collectors Cup Series

    Dairy Queen recently teamed up with the Pittsburgh Penguins to offer an outstanding collectors cup series featuring the names and likenesses of six (6) Pens players, including star goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

    Over a six (6) week period, fans across Pittsburgh and surrounding areas can purchase the collectors cups at select DQ locations for just $1.99 with any purchase or with a 16 oz. Blizzard Treat for just $4.99.

    Dairy Queen's promotion with the Penguins signals how teams can successfully work with (relatively) non-traditional retail partners to effectively leverage marks in a manner that drives sales and reaches new segments of consumers.

    The promotional effort follows an initiative that Dairy Queen and the Penguins offered in the Spring where fans could redeem a coupon for a Buy One, Get One Free Iceburgh Chocolate Xtreme Blizzard Treat (leveraging the team mascot's name and likeness). 

    Check out Dairy Queen's limited edition collectors cups below:


    Hublot Teams Up with Manchester United for a Unique Promotional Stunt

    Over the past few years, several watch companies have begun investing large sums of dollars on event partnerships, athlete endorsements, team partnerships, and more. As sports organizations look to leverage partnerships in this category in new ways, many should consider benchmarking a promotional tactic that Hublot and Manchester United partnered on in 2010.

    Luxury watchmaker Hublot teamed up with Manchester United to host a Million Dollar Challenge event in New York City that featured several players as well as manager Sir Alex Ferguson shooting soccer balls at a giant target (replicating a Hublot watch) for the chance to raise funds for UNICEF. As part of the promotion, Manchester United players were challenged with striking a giant replica watch with a shot from 51 feet away to donate $1 million to UNICEF, a philanthropic entity that ManU has supported for 10+ years.

    While no player successfully accomplished the feat, Hublot still donated a significant amount of money to UNICEF and generated buzz worldwide with the event. The PR stunt demonstrates how organizations can create engaging activation/PR stunt displays for watch companies that will attract consumer interest and attention. Consider ways that your team can benchmark this tactic to bring official watch partnerships to life!

    Check out Hublot's activation tactic below:


    Wendy's Lets CFL Fans Compete to Kick for a Million Dollars

    Over the past seven years, Wendy's has captured the interests and attention of millions of football fans throughout Canada by offering a Kick for a Million promotional platform that rewards CFL fans for eating at its chain locations.

    The QSR chain leverages its status as an official partner of the Canadian Football League as well as a media partnership with TSN to feature a live halftime promotional contest that offers one lucky fan a chance to kick a 50-yard field goal for the chance to win $1 million. In addition, Wendy's grants the participant an opportunity to also attempt field goals from 20, 30, and 40 yards for the chance to also win a Samsung $25,000 Family Package, a 2011 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro, and $100,000 cash.

    Fans can participate in the Kick to Win contest by visiting participating Wendy's locations throughout Canada to receive a game cup that offers a chance to win a variety of instant prizes, including Nissan automobiles, Samsung Galaxy tablets, Reebok merchandise, and Wendy's gift cards and food prizes. Fans who purchase Wendy's on a regular basis can also receive bonus entries for the chance to kick for $1 million.

    The structure of the promotion, offering a series of lower-tier prizes, demonstrates how league partners can collaborate to amplify promotional events - both in-stadium and at retail. In total, Wendy's Kick for a Million contest generated 18 million entries - the most ever in the history of the contest. Wendy's has even attracted 11,000+ fans to "like" the promotion's official Facebook page.

    Check out Wendy's Kick for a Million promotional video below:

    Check out Wendy's Kick for a Million contest execution here:

    A special thanks to Kelsey Philpott of GMR Marketing for his insights and contributions to this column!


    Audi Leverages Its Real Madrid Partnership By Giving All First-Team Players Free Cars

    In professional sports, automobile providers typically leverage their official team partnerships with a slew of traditional assets that include stadium car displays, test drive programs, venue destination buildouts, branded parking lots, prominent signage, and other high-end amenities.

    However in Spain, Audi recently took its official partnership of Real Madrid C.F. to another level by giving a brand new car to every player on the first-team squad. Audi marked the occasion by having the team of players compete in a recreational grand prix go car contest for press and select guests in attendance.

    Following the event, several Real Madrid players including Cristiano Ronaldo shared nothing but praises for the Audi brand and its high-quality automobiles. While Audi's gift-giving practice comes at a high expense, it serves as a great way to showcase it's fleet of cars in a compelling way to millions of Real Madrid fans across the globe.

    Check out Audi's unique press announcement below:



    San Marcos Academy Teams Up with Local Sponsors to Promote Breast Cancer Awareness

    It's become relatively common in the sports marketplace for properties to align with corporate partners to promote philanthropic efforts, notably breast cancer awareness. However, it's still a relatively untapped effort in high school athletics... until now.

    The San Marcos Academy Bears, a high school football team from San Marcos, Texas recently partnered with Chick-fil-A (at a local level) and A+ Federal Credit Union to promote breast cancer awareness by wearing branded all-pink Wilson jerseys and hosting a "Pink Out" night. As part of the effort, the team specifically endorsed the Austin Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and their efforts to fight breast cancer in the local community.

    For the second consecutive year, the Bears wore bright pink jerseys, featuring a printed pattern of the Chick-fil-A and A+ Federal Credit Union logos in return for their support and investment in the team's exclusive night.

    Funds raised from sales of the team's pink jerseys supported local breast cancer treatment, screening, and education programs through the Komen Austin Affiliate. Each of the players on the San Marcos Academy football team were given an opportunity to purchase their own jersey, however jerseys that were not purchased were sold for $50 on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Check out a photo of the San Marcos Academy Bears' special jerseys below:

    For More Information, Click Here.


    Kraft Gets Creative to Engage Consumers Out-of-Home

    Teams looking for new ways to leverage Kraft as a corporate partner should take a close look at two (2) of the company's innovative out-of-home marketing executions in recent years. 

    In 2010, Kraft teamed up with Monster Media, MediaVest, and CP+B to create an interactive storefront that allowed consumers to see a virtual Kraft noodle smile whenever they smiled. Kraft installed grin detecting systems in ten (10) storefronts across the country that conveyed happiness in noodle form and allowed consumers an opportunity to dictate the interaction simply by smiling. 

    Check out Kraft's interactive outdoor display below and consider ways that you can replicate this offering within your venue to engage fans! Examples can include:

    • Create a Kids display in the concourse where young fans can smile to see their favorite team mascot smile back
    • Create an interactive wall of televisions where fans can smile at virtual headshots of their favorite players and have them smile back at them (or wave, blink, etc.)
    • Create an interactive wall of fan faces that change throughout the game based on how well the team is performing

    In 2010, Kraft teamed up with Crispin Porter + Bogusky to transport a giant noodle to large outdoor events to provide warmth to fans in a creative way. Prior to games at Lambeau Field, Wrigley Field, and other iconic venues and events, Kraft featured a giant noodle on-hand that was equipped with a heating system to warm fans up in the tailgate lots. The "You Know You Love It" noodle served as an engaging branding play that definitely resonated with fans in attendance. 

    This tactic would also work well for teams looking to promote utility partners, pizza companies, and fast-food chains (promoting new menu offerings) in cold environments. Teams competing in warm environments during the summer months could mirror Kraft's OOH tactic to promote "ice cold" products (e.g. feature a giant Coors Light bottle on-site that always stays super cold). 

    Check out Kraft's outdoor execution below:

    Lambeau Field
    Daytona International Speedway
    AT&T Park


    Leverage Ice Cream Partners at Practice and Training Camp

    The Baltimore Ravens recently turned some heads at training camp when coach John Harbaugh treated the team to a nice surprise after practice - ice cream. Harbaugh had local vendors drive ice cream trucks onto the team's practice fields and allowed players to choose whatever they wanted as a simple reward for practicing hard.

    The tactic was a nice gesture by the Ravens' team personnel but signals a way that team's can incorporate their corporate partners (notably food/concessions vendors) throughout the season. As teams look to sell new inventory (or offer new value-add elements), they should consider approaching the coaching staff to see if there are any opportunities to execute similar stunts throughout practice, training camp, or during the offseason. It would be terrific if the team allowed fans attending practice to purchase items from the ice cream vendors as well. 

    With Sports Illustrated's Peter King on-site for training camp, the Ravens were able to create some "feel-good" buzz online and around camp.



    Clint Dempsey Teams Up with Modelo in a Rare Partnership

    Modelo Especial recently announced a sweepstakes opportunity for soccer fans throughout the United States in conjunction with a rare partnership with current United States Men's National Team soccer player Clint Dempsey.

    The partnership is unique because the United States sports marketplace does not often see current players align themselves with alcoholic beverage partners, notably International brands. The partnership also ties in a third party media outlet, Sports Illustrated, to host the site and provide additional value to the winners.

    Modelo Especial is featuring Dempsey in a national sweepstakes offering soccer fans a chance to win a soccer trip of a lifetime. The brand is supporting the sweepstakes with a television ad, POS, and a terrific microsite that allows fans to play goalie against Dempsey in a virtual shootout competition.

    Consumers can win the sweepstakes, which awards five (5) grand prize winners a trip for two to attend an International soccer match of their choosing, by entering via tearpads on Modelo Especial POS displays at retail and online at, which hosts the microsite. Residents of California can submit an essay for the chance to win a trip to Europe, interview Dempsey live, and blog about their experience attending a Barclays Premier League match on the Sports Illustrated website. 

    Consumers can also scan QR codes on Modelo's POS displays at retail to unlock exclusive Sports Illustrated content about the top 11 soccer players in the world. 

    Per a recent Los Angeles Times article, Dempsey doesn't see any issues pitching a Mexican beer brand and is excited to partner with Modelo Especial after growing up near Mexico and learning a lot from Mexican players. However, it's ironic to note that Modelo's television ad featuring Dempsey recently aired shortly after the United States lost to Mexico 4-2 in Gold Cup play in June. 

    Check out the campaign and microsite below:



    JD Motorsports Supports The Launch of Cowboys & Aliens With Facebook Promo

    JD Motorsports recently unveiled an innovative partnership with the upcoming action-thriller film Cowboys & Aliens that is generating a notable amount of buzz in the NASCAR space. The partnership marks the first time that a film will serve as the primary sponsorship of a car for multiple races during the weeks leading up to July 29th, the date the movie is released in theatres.

    JD Motorsports and the producers of Cowboys & Aliens are leveraging their partnership with an innovative social-media driven promotion that will enable 60,000 fans to have their face featured on the mosaic version paint scheme of the car. To participate, fans simply have to log on to the Official Cowboys & Aliens Facebook Page or the film's official microsite, and input their contact information and upload a photo. The "face car" paint scheme will be unveiled at the Subway Jalapeno 250 at Daytona International Speedway on July 1st. By entering the promotion, fans can also win an exclusive trip to Daytona to see their face embedded on the hood of the JD Motorsports car live.

    JD Motorsports teamed up with Jim Varga, the founder of Social Fan Wrap, to create the fan mosaic car concept which will feature approximately 25,000 fan photos on each paint scheme of the No. 01 Cowboys & Aliens car, driven by Mike Wallace. The unique promotional campaign demonstrates how NASCAR teams and associated stakeholders are utilizing technology and social media to take their partnerships to the next level!