Recently our firm played a role in helping to secure naming rights for two municipal facilities – one in Ottawa, Ontario for an initial 15 year term for $1.45 million and the other in Burlington, Ontario for $1,360,000 over 20 years. In both cases, we worked closely with each municipality to identify and determine the value of naming rights assets as well as package naming rights benefits into an offering that resonated with the potential sponsor. In Ottawa, we directly pitched the opportunity along with City staff and the Ward Councilor.
What made both of these efforts successful was the teamwork that was involved in preparing and packaging the naming rights opportunity and getting in front of the right people to present the opportunity. In my view, this is the type of collaborative model that works well because it leverages the expertise of various individuals and organizations to deliver a credible and professional proposal. It also sends a message that the municipality is actively engaged and committed to the process, rather than handing responsibility over to a third-party contractor to go out and simply “raise cash”.
It also got me to thinking why companies invest in naming rights opportunities. Based on our experience with these two projects, as well as many others that our firm has worked on, the motivations for a company investing in a long-term naming rights program can be very diverse. Some of the more common reasons include:
Visibility and Exposure – for any company that wants to increase their overall profile in a particular market;
Branding – for any company that wants to visibly demonstrate their corporate or brand values by associating themselves with a high profile community property;
Corporate Positioning – for any company that wants to create a point of differentiation in a competitive marketplace;
Product / Service Marketing – for companies that want to reach specific audiences with product offerings that are related to their facility activity or experience (e.g. hockey equipment at an arena);
Product Sales – for companies that want to increase sales volumes / market share through exclusive supplier arrangements (e.g. pouring rights);
Share Fate – for companies that believe what’s good for the community is also good for the corporation;
Community Responsibility – for companies that want to give back to a community that has contributed to their success;
Recruit or Retain Employees – for companies that attract new employees or build company morale.
There are many more specific reasons that I could get into, but the point I want to make is that naming rights are a complex business and a very big deal for any company that chooses to go down this road. For many companies, it can be the most important investment they can ever make from a marketing perspective. That is why it takes the collective strengths of external contractors, municipal staff and politicians who need to come together to present a credible and relevant opportunity to the right people at the right time and place for these kinds of partnerships to come to fruition.
“Hats off” to the cities of Burlington and Ottawa for a job well done!