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    Sponsors Align Their Brands with Music Artists...

    japan.jpgIn recent months, a large number of corporate sponsors have begun to expand their sponsorship portfolios, reaching out to the entertainment world to seek new target audiences and messaging avenues. While partnering with artists may carry an elevated level of risk, they in turn offer corporate sponsors a new medium for finding true solutions to meet their set objectives. 

    IEG recently profiled a number of new corporate-entertainment partnerships:

    • Absolut's recently announced a collaboration with Kanye West as a sponsor of the artist's Glow in the Dark Tour. To activate, Kanye West will share online testimonials on the Absolut website and VIP ticket package experiences will be offered.  Absolut will sponsor the official concert after parties and will feature Kanye's aesthetic looks in its retail displays across the country (Absolut, Official Press Release). 
    • Southwest Airlines signed on as the title sponsor of Lenny Kravitz's "Love Revolution" Tour to drive awareness for its brand and affiliation with Chase credit cards, acquire new cardholders, and reward existing members. The Kravitz "Love Revolution" tour perfectly aligned with Southwest's motto as "The Love" airline, as its stock is publicly traded as LUV on the NYSE. To activate, Southwest is offering concert-related perks and sweepstakes for cardholders (for merchandise, meet-n-greets, and ticket exclusives). The airline also offers an elite lounge on-site at Kravitz concerts where free airline tickets are offered through a select sweepstakes (IEG, 2.18.08).
    • Lexus chose to target African-American women by signing on as a presenting sponsor of Alicia Keys' upcoming 36-city tour. To activate, Lexus is posting webisodes of Keys and the tour on and will use videos and other types of messaging to promote its brand. Lexus is also planning to work with the singer on a philanthropic effort (IEG, 2.18.08).

    While the three (3) aforementioned companies developed well-executed programs, Nike seems to have taken the idea of aligning with entertainment to a whole new level. The innovative shoe company adorned limited edition album covers of six (6) popular Japanese artists. Each of the select cd's featured specially designed cardboard cases with the popular artists sporting Nike shoes (Wall Street Journal, 2.22.08).

    Could this be a new wave for sponsor integration in the entertainment world? Will we see sponsors begin to shift more dollars from the sports world to music and fashion? As sports organization begin to seek new opportunities to offer fans enhanced entertainment value, we may begin to see companies focus more of their sponsorship dollars on artists and niche markets (i.e. Indie rock).


    When it Comes to Showing Value... Swing for the Fences

    fenway.bmpAre you looking to provide additional value to your corporate partners with minimal fixed costs?

    The Boston Red Sox recently announced that they are offering groups the chance to take batting practive in the visiting team's batting cage at Fenway Park. In an effort to drive more year-round traffic to the ballpark, the Red Sox are charging groups $50-75 per person (min. 20 persons) for a private party and batting practice. The Red Sox are the first MLB to offer such an experience to fans.

    Looking around at our organizations, aren't there a lot of opportunities that we casually overlook that could be simple revenue generating ideas? or additional measures of value that we can provide our corporate partners?

    Here are a few:

    • Stadium flag football events for corporate employees
    • Tours of the locker room/training room/meeting rooms/offices
    • Fantasy camps
    • On-court shootarounds, on-ice bench tours
    • VIP acess to practice
    • Access to venue meeting rooms
    • Tours of student athlete academic centers
    • Field access for pre-game FGs
    • Unique opportunities to participate in halftime activities
    • Zamboni rides
    • Opportunities to throw pitches off the mound
    • Batting practice (on off-days)
    • Exclusive meet-n-greets with upper management/coaches
    • Post-game access to the field/court (to take pictures, etc.)
    • Press room access (for post-game interviews)

    For more information on the batting practice opportunity at Fenway Park, please click here.


    The Economy is Falling... But the Sponsorship Industry is Rising!

    Good news for corporate sponsors and property reps... Despite questions of a recession in 2008, sponsorship spending is slated to increase 12.6% (IEG), the highest single-year jump since 2000. Sports sponsorships are estimated to account for $11.75BN of the overall $16.78BN sponsorship spending in the US and Canada (rights fees alone). (Source: SBJ, 2.18.2008).

    Mel Poole of SponsorLogic recently made a eight (8) excellent points about how properties can survive the troubling economic times of '08 in a recent SBJ column:

    1. Get aggressively involved with helping sponsors measure ROI in terms that are clear and valuable
    2. Be flexible and give sponsors the ability to best match property assets to rapidly changing needs and marketplaces
    3. Carve out, embrace and protect your property’s unique positioning in the marketplace
    4. Embed your property into as many operating business units of your sponsors as possible.
    5. Drive out as much of the hard costs incurred in managing your property as is reasonable, but do not cut back on aggressively marketing your property to qualified sponsor prospects.
    6. Consider reducing the rights fees of some categories in exchange for increasing in-kind sponsorships that can relieve property budget pressure.
    7. Focus on signing multiyear agreements that bridge periods of economic boom and bust.
    8. Examine your contracts’ sponsor exit clauses. They should be oriented toward encouraging a sponsor to work through challenges. Try to install exit clauses that provide incentives to sponsors to help you replace them by leveraging the exiting sponsors’ sister companies and vendors.

    Projected 2008 North American Sponsorship Spending By Property Type (Source: IEG 12.24.07):



    NHL Goalie Billboards?

    brodeur.jpgThe newest buzz circulating around NHL camps?

    NHL goaltenders have recently asked the NHLPA to consider starting a "Goaltender's Club", an initative that would enable them to place a corporate logo on their jerseys. While this would take away from the purity of the game, it would generate incremental revenue for the league (and possibly players). NHL goalies interested in the concept include Devils G Martin Brodeur, Stars G Marty Turco, Red Wings G Dominik Hasek and Oilers G Dwayne Roloson, who have been working with two (2) sports marketing consultants to pursue the idea.

    Initial estimations have corporate logos on goalie jerseys generating an incremental $30MM per season for the league. There have been various discussions about logo placement (above the team symbol, sleeves, bottom of the jersey) but NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has yet to publicly comment on the idea.  

    When asked about the idea, Edmonton Oilers G Dwayne Roloson commented, "Advertisers would definitely be interested, and the goalie is the most visible player on the ice. I think it's a great way to grow (hockey-related revenue). They have (uniform ads) in Europe and it doesn't take away from the true jersey look."

    Note: All twenty-nine (29) AHL teams have a small advertising patch on their jerseys and player uniforms in Europe are covered in ads. 

    Source: The Toronto Star - 2/17/2008


    Are we Selling Away the Experience?

    I recently analyzed an undisclosed college property's inventory sheet and was amazed about the amount of assets that are available to sponsors. How do we continue to show value to sponsors when they are just a fish in the sea when it comes to signage?

    Here is a breakdown of some of the non-media assets that properties have available to sell:

    • Football
      • LED Digital Signage, Trivision Panels (North/South/East/West), End Zone Banners, Plaza Banners, Entrance Baners, Coaches Headsets, Restroom Signage, Video Board Replays (three (3) per quarter), On-Field/Video Board Promotions, Sponsor Tagged Features, PA Announcements, Video Vignettes
    • Basketball
      • On-Court Logos, Scoreboard Signage, Balcony Signage (Corners, Behind-the-Basket, Side Court), Concourse Televisions, Player Tunnel Signage, Arena Ticker Boards, Arena Hustle Boards, Vomitory Tunnel Signage, Basket Pole Pads, Home/Visiting Team Bench Signage, Restroom Signage, Video Board Replays (two (2) per half), Sponsor Tagged Features, PA Announcements, On-Court/Video Board Promotions, Video Vignettes
    • Hockey
      • In-Ice Logos, Dasher Boards (Full Color, Two Boards, TV Visible), Rotating Dasherboards, Main Scoreboard, Team Benches, Penalty Box, Media Balcony, Signage Perched Above the Zamoni Tunnel, Zamboni Tunnel, Player Tunnerls, Concourse Televisions, Zamboni, Auxiliary Scoreboard, Restroom Signage, Video Board Replays (two (2) per period), Sponsor Tagged Features, PA Announcements, On-Ice/Video Board Promotions, Video Vignettes
    • Baseball
      • Large Outfield Wall Signage, Scoreboard Signage, Pavilion Signage, Restroom Signage, Video Board Replays, Sponsor Tagged Features, PA Announcements, On-Field/Video Board Promotions, Video Vignettes
    • Olympic Sports
      • Scorer's Table, Press Row, Main Scoreboard, Auxiliary Scoreboard, Fence Banners (soccer), Restroom Signage, Video Board Replays, Sponsor Tagged Features, PA Announcements, Playing Field/Video Board Promotions, Video Vignettes
    • Golf
      • Marble Tee Box Signs (for all 18 holes), Driving Range Divider Signage 

    Don't Strike Out with Sponsorship Opportunities

    Benjamin Franklin once said, "Remember that time is money". Well, in 2007 the Chicago White Sox must have listened intently as they created a blockbuster deal with 7-Eleven on the basis of time, changing their game times from 7:05 to 7:11. This simple, yet effective sale of non-traditional assets sent the sports industry clamoring for the next great "simple" idea...

    The following sales idea may not carry the weight of the 7-Eleven partnership, but it does provide seamless sponsorship integration:

    Sell Circle K stores on the idea of sponsoring fan "strikeout signs" at baseball games and support the concept by creating an activation plan that drives drives retail traffic. For example, If the home team pitcher strikes out ten (10) batters, all fans can redeem their Circle K strikeout sign for a free item or a $1.00 purchase discount.



    Driving Store Traffic through Innovative Couponing Practices

    Couponing on-site too often results in low redemption rates and unmet expectations. How can properties and sponsors work together to make this process more effective?

    Well the Chicago Bears have devised a unique mechanism to enhance five (5) of their corporate partners' couponing distribution process. In 2007, the Chicago Bears created and introduced "The Playbook", a magazine portfolio that contains coupons from five (5) of the team's sponsors as well as the team's schedule and related information (IEG - 9.17.2007).

    Coupons contained in "The Playbook" are activated by the Chicago Bears through video board promotions. As an example, McDonalds offers consumers a coupon for a "free cup of coffee" if the Bears score a touchdown during the first half. This interactive, yet collective approach to couponing has been well-received by the team's fans and has proven to be an effective measure to enhance the team's couponing distribution processes.

    Other sponsors activating through "The Playbook" include:

    • Best Buy Co.
    • Dick’s Sporting Goods
    • Dunkin’ Donuts
    • 7-Eleven.
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