This past spring we conducted research on about 150 sponsorship properties from around the world to identify the types of benefits that are offered to sponsors in different environments and to no great surprise, there is little earth-shattering innovation as far as the range and nature of benefits offered. However, one thing that became very clear is that an activation plan that connects the brand in a meaningful way with the property or “audience experience” is essential for effective sponsorship marketing.
A properly planned and executed Activation Strategy can transform everyday benefits (i.e. visibility elements) into a dynamic cooperative marketing program. Here are some examples from Canada and around the world:
- Whitby, Ontario – Scotiabank’s Naming Rights of Iroquois Park is supported by a Free Skate Day on Family Day and sponsorship of the Backyard Rink Program for children under 7.
- UK – National Trust – Cadbury Trebor Bassett helped deliver over 200 Easter Egg Trails at NT park properties this Easter. The activities focused on encouraging ‘family togetherness’ and bringing a little magic back to the Easter occasion. The Trails were advertised on over 20 million Cadbury Easter eggs as well as through a dedicated website – www.eastereggtrail.com – where participants could search to find their nearest participating property. All children received a Cadbury ‘Egghead’ Easter Egg on completion of the trail and at some of the larger properties, Cadbury provided extra fun and games including space hoppers, egg and spoon races and face painters.
- SickKids Hospital = Costco Wholesale is a strong supporter of SickKids through the Children’s Miracle Network. Costco has inspired their staff to encourage customers and vendors to give in support of their Miracle Campaign – a program that runs throughout the month of May. They have executed one of the most successful “paper icon campaigns”. Costco customers are invited to purchase a CMN paper balloon that they sign and staff display prominently in the warehouse – ultimately making a donation to SickKids.
- South African National Park – Hi-Tee sponsors the footwear for the Hoerikwaggo Guides. Each graduate receives one pair of boots and one pair of shoes and the guides acknowledge the performance of the gear in their tours.
- US National Parks Services – National Trust = Olympus is the sole sponsor of the “Share the Experience” Photo Contest. The contest encourages people to experience the nation’s parks and federal recreation lands and take only photos, leaving the parks’ majestic beauty untouched for future generations to enjoy. Olympus is also supporting the National Park Service’s “Air Web Camera” initiative, which tracks and analyzes air quality at 16 national park locations. Images are captured every 15 minutes throughout each and every day at the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the Great Smokey Mountains, and the Washington and Lincoln Memorials in Washington D.C.
- New South Wales – Foundation for Parks and Wildlife – Dymocks has the naming rights to Golden Paw Award, an annual children’s drawing competition and rewards all entries with a donation to the foundation.
- Vancouver 2010 – Canadian citizens could apply to RBC or Coca-Cola to be part of the Olympic Torch Relay and carry the Olympic flame throughout Canada as part of the 106-day, 45,000 km Torch Relay leading up to Vancouver 2010.
The bottom line is that sponsorship activation can be as simple or complex as you want as long as it demonstrates brand relevance and/or provides value to the intentded audience. Therefore, if you want to create more compelling sponsorship packages and ensure that sponsors reveive maximum return on objectives for their investment, you should ensure that every proposal includes a strong activation element that goes beyond visibility benefits to active engagement.