So, it’s a couple days late, but I really did have this one ready to go.
Continuing with the sponsorship kick that I’ve been on lately, today’s link looks at the success of Visa’s sponsorship of the Olympics.
Visa is one of those companies that has lead me to ask, why are they sponsoring the Olympics? What is the objective? How does this fit? In this article by MediaPost, we see the through Olympic sponsorship, Visa generated a strong boost in customer perception of the brand. It’s also a way that Visa keeps the brand out in front of the global audience.
Today I heard a brand manager exclaim rather forcefully “I’m not in marketing. I’m a brand manger!” He went on to explain how as a brand manager he was concerned with things like logistics and speaking with the sales reps.
Now, non marketers might be thinking “what’s wrong with that” while marketers are (hopefully) shaking their heads. He is right that as a brand manager he is concerned with things like logistics and working with sales teams. Where he is wrong is the implication that this role goes above and beyond marketing. In fact, brand management (in this case it’s arguably more product than brand management, but that’s for a different time) is a subset of marketing.
Those logistics he’s talking about? That’s marketing. The working with the sales team? Yep, that’s marketing too. So is price setting. So is promotion development. So is business case development, product launches, training, etc. etc. And at this point, we are really still living in the 4Ps. There is customer interaction, collaborator interaction. Research and analysis. Segmentation and targeting. Proper positioning. Collection of feedback. Interpretation and dissemination of that feedback.
Truth is, marketing is a huge umbrella. Unfortunately, it seems like the only people that realize that are marketers. This goes back to my earlier posts on the marketing profession paradox. Even within the marketing department within organizations, the assumption is that the “marketers” are the ones that do the advertising.
But it’s just semantics, right? Who cares if he thinks that what he’s doing is more than marketing? He’s doing a lot of the marketing, right? And while that’s a fair point, to me it’s not simply the definition…it’s understanding the greater whole. It’s understanding how all of the pieces work together in a cohesive marketing strategy to support a product. It’s about being able to understand priorities and be able to see gaps…about looking at a comprehensive strategic approach to marketing his product to the world.
Under Armour has gotten a bit of a bad rap these Olympics regarding the underwhelming performance of the US Speedskating team. Much has been made about their new, hi-tech suits and how they have negatively affected performance. The question though is what kind of impact this will ultimately have on Under Armour.
I’m sure there are people that have studied this a lot more than I have that have weighed in. But, I find this a particularly interesting situation. In sports, we are used to seeing the celebrity endorsement. Some athlete signs a contract with a manufacturer to where their clothing or pitch their product. This doesn’t fall into that category. US Speedskating isn’t promoting the Under Armour equipment.
Instead, this falls more into a corporate sponsorship category. This is where Under Armour spends the money to create something for an individual or group of athletes. Think Nike and the development of golf clubs for Tiger Woods. The ultimate goal is that the athlete(s) performs well, and point to the equipment as a key factor to the improvement. Since people see the athlete validating the equipment, they go out and buy a version of this. The sponsoring company is hoping that results in the arena translate to sales.
This works in the world of golf. Tiger is great. Tiger uses Nike. Weekend duffers go out and buy Nike. But how does this work for speedskating? Was Under Armour hoping that the global speedskating market would suddenly show up in droves to purchase the new amazing suits? Or at least any speedskating suit made by UA? Unlikely.
For Under Armour, teaming up with US Speedskating (as well as US Bobsled, US Skeleton, and Canadian snowboarding) was about showcasing the brand on an international level. It was simply about getting the logo out there, getting people in other countries to see the sleek looking suits, and hear stories about the lengths that Under Armour would go to in developing their products. It is to position Under Armour as a relevant brand on an international stage, to get some PR, and to build things up.
And honestly, this was a good place to test the simple image transfer. I didn’t see any Under Armour commercials. This wasn’t a strong push toward the athleticwear that the core demographic will purchase. It’s just about building the brand internationally.
Did it work? Time will tell. But by renewing their contract, it seems things are headed in the right direction (at least their stock sure is).
Anyone that has even moderately followed the Olympics the past few days has no doubt heard something about the performance of the US SpeedSkating team and their Under Armour suits. This is an interesting position for Under Armour as the publicity has definitely been less than stellar. Is it going to be something that has a major impact? Probably not. But it did trigger a bit of a PR firestorm as well as some evaluations of marketing decisions.
Whenever a company makes a decision to endorse or support an athlete or team, they are in a way taking a marketing risk. If the team performs exceptionally, there is positive reward to be had. But if they perform negatively, it could be seen as the sponsors fault…in cases where the sponsors are as actively involved as making the suits (conversely, if the Seattle Sounders don’t perform well, no one is blaming X Box, their main sponsor, who does nothing other than provide cash).
The situation with Under Armour and US SpeedSkating is something that I find fascinating, and something I will be writing about over the next few posts. But in the meantime, I wanted to offer one of the better articles regarding the situation. It’s from Bloomberg News, and doesn’t take into consideration current events such as the extension that UA and US SpeedSkating just signed. But it is a good broad look at the thoughts and decisions that marketers face when sponsorships go wrong.
Just a PSA for my marketing colleagues…go see your customers. Get out of the office. Go to where they are. Don’t just rely on anecdotes from salespeople. Don’t just read reports. Don’t rely on trades how’s as your interaction point. Go out and meet them. Ask questions. Observe how they interact with your product. It will help you understand pain points that you can address. Or hear about things they love that you can share with others. You may even get the opportunity to see a competitors product too. Ultimately though, you will be a better marketer for it.
As I wrote earlier, the Big Game is definitely an event worth going to. It’s a great experience, and a great atmosphere; commercialized as it may be. There were definitely some things that I really liked, and definitely somethings that I didn’t (not that the dislikes overrode the experience…I’m just sayin’). Some were specific to the location, some to the event. And it seemed to be a great theme for a Friday afternoon blog post. So here we go:
LIKED: The idea of Super Bowl Blvd. A free experience for those that want to participate in the festivities and the hype. It’s a great way to get additional exposure for companies, and give the average fan that couldn’t afford a ticket a way to be involved.
DISLIKED: The execution of Super Bowl Blvd. 3 broadcast sets, a giant toboggan, trailers, and countless other things on NYC street?? The pedestrian traffic was worse than Time’s Square New Year’s Eve. It’s already hard enough to move down the sidewalks, let’s not make it more difficult. And the badge process was ridiculous. Not the right venue for GM to capture customer leads for the truck.
LIKED: The SWAG Bag that was on our seats when we got in. For the price that we paid, it was nice to get more than just a towel. The bag consisted of gloves, stocking hat, ear warmers, hand warmers, and a variety of other things that worked well for a cool NY/NJ night.
DISLIKED: The overbranding of the SWAG. How many people are going to wear their “New Girl” branded gloves or their “Pepsi” branded hat out side of the stadium? Probably would have been better to stick with the SB48 logo and more subtle corporate sponsors to get continued wear. Of course, why do that when you can just sell said logo wear?
LIKED: The venue. I may be in the minority, but I like seeing the championship game played outdoors in February. It’s football! Even baseball plays their championship outdoors in the elements. Can you imagine if baseball was only played in the domed stadiums every year? I’d like to see more outside games. Who wouldn’t want to go to Denver in February? Super Bowl and skiing?
DISLIKED: The prices. I know there is a law of supply and demand that drives up the ticket prices. I get that. But really, $14 for a Bud Light? $6 for a hot dog? I’m surprised we weren’t charged to use the bathroom. I know that my consumption was way down. Maybe this was by design, or maybe people still bought 5 beers and figured “what the hell, it’s the Super Bowl!!”
LIKED: Fan Express Bus. Convenient, easy, probably not enough of them given the 28,000 people that used the train. Worth every single penny that we paid for it.
DISLIKED: The big disconnect. This was caused by the fact that the stadium is actually in New Jersey, and that New York City has so much going on that this was just another ho hum thing. Once you left time square, you had no idea the Super Bowl was in town. it was just another day in New York. Granted, there were more people at the World Trade Center Memorial wearing football jerseys than one would normally see, but there definitely wasn’t an air of “there is a huge game going on”. In fact, I would guess there is more of a vibe for Fashion Week across the city than the Super Bowl. Which is sad because I think if everything was in Jersey, there would have been a lot more energy.
LIKED: Being in the stands to see my favorite team win the first championship for the city since 1979. Many people will probably note that I started out as a Broncos fan and rode out their crushing defeats of the 90s before they broke through at the end of the decade. But this was different. Seattle is home. I may not have been there through the Kingdome years. I may not have fully embraced the Mariners yet. But the Hawks will always be synonymous with my earliest memories of Seattle, with my closest friends, and, well, with home.
For the past couple years, I’ve written about some of the commercials shown during the Big Game (respecting the NFL’s trademark rights); sometimes more well thought out than others. This year however, I found myself in the stands in New Jersey. This offered a completely different commercial perspective.
With the lack of TVs to showcase the new commercials of the year, the big advertisers turned toward sponsorships. Everything had a sponsor. MetLife Stadium, the Verizon Pavilion, the Bud Light Gate, the Pepsi Halftime show, the SAP replay. And while corporate sponsors buy various naming rights throughout all of the stadiums in the league, at the Super…Big Game, these were the deep pocketed sponsors rather than some of the more local ones.
There were a few little “extras” in the stadium like the opportunity to see the Lombardi trophy, the giant Tostito’s chip bowl photo op and the “football experience”. But what really set this event apart was the atmosphere that surrounded the game.
When you attend the Big Game, the NFL’s true marketing genius is in the hype. It’s getting fans pumped up with a week of activities. It’s getting corporate sponsors to shell out millions of dollars. It’s about the “exclusive A-list parties” and the “something for everyone” events. The NFL makes it feel like a destination, like being a part of an exclusive club. It draws fans from teams that aren’t even playing (spotted Rams, Ravens, Buccaneers, Steelers, Jets and Giants to name a few). And for that, fans are willing to pay extensively.
The cheapest, non-special-lottery ticket was $800 face value. Many people paid 2-3 times that in the secondary market. The price of a Bud Light (which can be had in your local grocery store for about $1) was $14. Want something premium? That’s an additional $2. A hot dog? $6. Program? $20. But the cash was flying as people wanted to stake their claim in the exclusive club of Big Game attendees.
As a fan, the experience was phenomenal. And seeing my team win was worth the trip. But next year, I’ll be on the couch, watching the new, funny/serious/heartwrenching commercials. Because as great as the event is, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. They did enough to keep me watching for seasons to come, but showing up, fighting the masses and watching the game? I think I’ll pass. Of course, if my team makes it again, well…
If you have purchased anything online in the past, I don’t know, three years, you have probably been asked to take a survey. Actually, if you have done anything, be it order something, online chat, send an email or otherwise interact with any company, you have probably received a survey. On the one hand, it’s great for marketers. Here is almost instantaneous feedback that is virtually free and could help provide information to better serve the customer. On the other hand, egads marketers have a ways to go.
In the the past month I have seen a survey for purchase experience, a survey asking me of of rate my experience with using the email tool before anyone actually responded to my email inquiry (easy one to answer), and a 51 question survey (think that got done?). I have been asked to leave feedback and answer questions and let companies know how I feel.
Now don’t get me wrong, as a marketer I love information. The more I get directly from the people that matter, the better I can do. But even being a marketer, I can’t bring myself to spend the 20-30 minutes per survey that it would take to provide honest answers. And given some of the he surveys I’ve seen, I can’t imagine that the information gained is even that relevant.
My preferred method is the survey company that can capture data either on the phone or in written form, but I will admit it works much better in the B2B world. So, if you are a marketer, and want to get the information, keep a couple things in mind:
Keep It Short and Sweet – if you ask a 51 question survey, the people that actually have the time to fill it out probably are not your target market. And you will get a really small n. Try and keep it short, 5 easy to answer questions that address one key question that you have. Leave one comment box, but minimize the free feedback.
Offer an Incentive – Remember America’s favorite radio station WII-FM – What’s In It For Me? Why am I going to take time out of my day to answer your questions? Things like discount on future purchase, reward points, etc. give an incentive. Also consider that if people are passionate enough to provide feedback, they want to see something come out of it. Surveying with no change makes people less likely to participate.
Follow Up, Then Let it Go – I get a lot of emails every day and might miss your survey. It’s ok to send a follow up. It’s not ok to send 5. If you haven’t received the information, go ahead and ask again. Remind me of the he incentive. But after that, let it go. Too many emails are going to solicit a response based on that, and not based on your initial experience.
This is really it. It goes back to the first tip. Keep it short. Keep it focused. Give the recipient a reason. And follow up. It should make a huge difference.
There are a lot of common experiences that marketers share. Experiences that are unique, that no other profession deals with in the same way. One such experience is the national sales meeting.
Now you may think that it’s not just marketers, but it’s sales too. They are there! And while that is factually true, what the marketers do is significantly different.
For most marketers, these are 18 hour days. It starts with getting up and stopping by your breakout room to make sure everything is set up for that day’s training. From there it is off to grab a quick breakfast and strategize before either heading to a general session or off to lead the training, both of which you had worked for weeks to put together. After a few hours of training, sometimes with a lunch thrown in, you have enough time to go change and head down for the cocktail reception, dinner, and after-dinner drinks at the bar where you spend the time networking nudged interfacing with sales. Before going to bed, you do a quick review of your slides (made more difficult thanks to the drinks the sales team is buying) and drift off to slumber. The next day you wake up, dehydrated, hopefully not too hungover, and do it again.
During these meetings, the marketers do everything. There are the he glory roles of presenting your content and answering questions. There are the logistical roles of making sure everything is in the rooms, that the microphones work, and the slides are up. There are the support roles for your colleagues that are presenting; handing out papers, proof reading, traffic copping. And there are the maintenance roles that involve setting up and breaking down equipment. This is usually done on little more than coffee and cheap hotel food while dressed in a suit in a nice location that you have no hope of exploring.
But at the end of the day, things come together. Your presentations go well. The sales teams walk out with the information you wanted them to have. And you rejoice because you don’t have to do that for another year. For the veterans, there are routines. For the rookies…well, they learn not to go out so hard on day.
Just another day in the life of a marketer.