SBJ/20090406/IMG World Congress Of Sports

Consumer Insights: Effects of economy push brands to more activation

The anxiety of the consumer in the current recession is causing brands like Coca-Cola, Visa and Anheuser-Busch to rethink how they spend on sports marketing, a group of brand marketers and researchers told attendees. The result is a greater emphasis on communities and activation programs that deliver value to consumers.

From left: Rich Luker, Tim Schoen,
Michael Lynch and Bea Perez
Michael Fanuele
managing director,
strategy, Euro RSCG
Rich Luker
chief strategy officer,
TBA Global
Michael Lynch
head of global sponsorship management,
Bea Perez
senior vice president of integrated marketing,
Tim Schoen
vice president of global sports and entertainment marketing,

After TBA Global’s Rich Luker spoke of data showing a shift in consumer sentiment against sports sponsorship, he spoke of how this recession seems different from its predecessors. “Four out of five Americans believe they know someone who’s been laid off or gone through foreclosure,” Luker said.

Euro RSCG’s Michael Fanuele agreed, saying, “People are nervous, and … there’s a palpable distrust of institutions, so of course they’re going to say, ‘Don’t waste my hard-earned money slapping your logo here.’

Companies have reacted to that by spending in different ways. As an example, Coca-Cola’s Bea Perez pointed to a new program that offers families hot dog discounts and soft drinks at games courtesy of Coke. Similarly, Anheuser-Busch’s Tim Schoen said that his company continues to invest in minor league baseball because it offers a sense of community and value for consumers.

“If you can’t afford to activate, you might as well get out of the game,” Schoen said,

Visa’s Michael Lynch said, “This is now a ‘we’ generation as opposed to an ‘I’ generation. The ‘I’ generation is what got so much of us in trouble in the past.”

Stories by staff writers Tripp Mickle, Jon Show, Eric Fisher and John Ourand. Photos by Alex Gort Sr. / Gort Productions.

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