We know that highly identified fans are more likely to respond to promotional sponsorship. However, is it because of the sponsorship, or because they are already part of the sponsoring company’s demographic? Maybe the reason that highly identified fans drink Bud Light is because Bud Light drinkers are more likely to become highly identified fans rather than the fact that Bud Light is the official beer of the NFL.
This leads to a couple questions. First, if the sponsorship plays a strong role in that behavior, could it be altered? Could there be an uptick in Miller Lite consumption if they suddenly became the official beer of the NFL?
Second, is the goal of the sponsoring company simply to maintain the place in the minds of the highly identified fan, or are they trying to gain traction with the lower identified fan? Does attending a football game lead one to consume more Bud Light after the game (removing the scarcity that is created in the stadium)?
I don’t actually know the answers to either of these, and haven’t found a paper that directly studies them. So, it’s a matter of opinion. In the first scenario, I would assume that the impact would not be immediate, but over the course of maybe 5 seasons, there would be a noticeable change in consumption/share specific to highly identified football fans, and not just for in-game consumption.
For the second, I think that most in-game/in-stadium sponsorship is meant simply for brand building. It’s about developing a positive name recognition, and is something that is beneficial for non-global brands like Bud Light. For example, Group Health sponsors the Seahawks and has in-stadium signage. This simple act helps bring Group Health to the top of mind for those highly engaged fans. However, I don’t think that it serves as a venue to grow the mindshare of the casual fan. And trying to get the casual fan to become more highly identified may not be worth the challenge.
As brands think about narrowing and targeting their customer bases, going after specific “tribes”, the highly identified fan serves this role. And while this group may grow, it is up to the team, not the sponsor, to build this. The sponsor should focus on these core pockets where they will get more bang for their buck.
After watching the Olympics, I’ve suddenly become obsessed with the idea of sponsorships. Why do companies do it? Throughout the Olympics, we heard countless times “proud sponsor of the US Olympic team”. Some of them made sense. Think Under Armour and Nike. Some seemed to be a little more of a stretch. Visa cards are used to pay for things, so maybe. Some were definitely a good will play. BP wanted people to think they aren’t all bad. And some had me scratching my head. Why is BMW making bobsleds(?) for the US team, but not the German team?
These questions have led me on a search of why sponsor anything? What is the goal? How does one measure success? Where is sponsorship going to go?
Sponsorships are mostly visible during the major sports, but they are definitely prevalent in today’s marketing environment. From small theater productions and local 5K races to the Super Bowl and World Cup, someone is sponsoring something.
For the next few months, I’ll definitely be putting up posts about sponsorships, some of my thoughts, and more of my questions. They may seem to bounce all over the place, but hey, that’s how my brain works sometimes.
Tradeshows are an interesting part of a marketer’s life. A three to five day extravaganza where new products are launched, current products are promoted, and copious amounts of food and alcohol are consumed under the guise of customer meetings. A lot of money is spent on having an attractive booth, a lot of floor space and the right people there. But Is it really worth the investment? Why do tradeshows even exist?
Many tradeshows (including all of the ones I attend), are associated with educational conferences. It makes great sense for the organizers to have tradeshows or exhibits associated with the meeting. The vendors pay money to have access to a very specific group of customers. Seems like a win/win. And it has been. But times are changing.
In today’s budget constrained, uber connected world, conferences are losing a little luster. Large national conventions are seeing declines in attendance. Many customers already have information when they walk into the booth. It seems that these are more of an opportunity for a vacation and a chance to see colleagues rather than learn about products. And yet marketers make ever bigger, fancier and more expensive booths.
Based on my experience, the tradeshow is simply becoming a more expensive way to generate mediocre leads. This doesn’t mean I don’t see value in these conferences. Quite the opposite actually. There is a lot of value in attending the education sessions to see where experts see industries moving. There is a lot of value in working with speakers that use your products to feature them more subtly. And there is a lot of value in building relationships with thought leaders and innovators.
Technology offers the opportunity to do virtual tradeshows. Regional meetings offer the opportunity to be even more focused. Direct sales teams offer the opportunity to build relationships with the right people. And while there is a risk in pulling out of tradeshows from a visibility perspective, there is a far better way to spend the money, generate leads, and foster relationships. It’s time to move on.
How do you make your message memorable? Tell a story…
Great video from Jennifer Aaker of Stanford, and one of the top publishing authors in marketing. Allow yourself 20 minutes. It’s worth it.
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.