SBJ/October 1-7, 2012/In Depth

Activation highlights and trends in sponsorship

As a lead-in to this week’s IMG Sports Marketing Symposium in New York City, we asked panelists scheduled for the event to highlight activations that caught their eye and to weigh in on the trends they’re watching. Here are highlights of what they had to say to those and other questions.

What sponsorship executions, outside of your own firm or organization, have you admired in the last year?

“Under Armour and the draft combine. It pains me, but very well done. Perfect fit for them and just great top-to-bottom
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integration. Red Bull did a great event in Boston. [They] brought in cliff divers to jump off an art museum into the harbor. They do a lot of cool things that shows out-of-the-box thinking. They also do a lot with music. I thought Fiat did some cool work around the Super Bowl and then also [with the] Grammys sponsorship and integration with J Lo. I think Dunkin’ Donuts is more conventional but does a very good job with understanding ‘all politics is local’ and connecting with local teams. … I still like Allstate and what it does with college football. Buying the nets by the goal posts is brilliant.”
— Tom Shine
Senior VP, sports and entertainment, Reebok


“I think FedEx and their relationship with the PGA and the FedEx Cup is fantastic. They supplement a big media position with integration into the property, and the Cup is almost like a fifth major and gets so much play.”
— Matt Mirchin,
Senior VP, global sports marketing, Under Armour


“Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is the sponsorship that I am impressed with. The event has such influence on all things fashion, pop culture, style and brand marketing. It attracts such a range of sponsors, from cereal bars to spirits. Everyone wants to tap into the art, fanfare and buzz that Fashion Week creates in New York City every year.”
— Beth Hirschhorn
EVP, global brand, marketing and communications, MetLife


“P&G Olympic platform (Official Sponsor of Moms). Leveraging a very powerful strategic insight, P&G broke through the Olympic clutter to tap into the buying power of its most valuable target with an emotional connection efficiently and consistently activated across its portfolio of brands.”
— Todd Fischer
Manager, marketing communications, State Farm


“Google Glass and Fashion. The sheer return on interest from a media standpoint was staggering.”
— Mark Dowley
Partner, DDCD & Partners


“We saw a lot of great partnerships unfold during the Olympic Games. I was impressed with AT&T, using athlete endorsement and branded content to set the stage for the launch of their ‘New Possibilities’ campaign. P&G definitely amplified their ‘Thank You, Moms’ campaign through the increased use of social media. But a clear winner from my perspective is Chobani. With a strategic approach, they connected and elevated their brand via the Olympic movement; they made an arrival to the global stage while managing to stay true to their small company heritage.”
— Andrew Judelson
Executive VP, sales and partnership marketing, WWE


“Vice is arguably the leading youth media company in North America. Vice recently built a robust branded channel for Intel called The Creators Project. In mining the world of arts and culture, this channel sends a very strong message about Intel’s values and their brand promise. Authentic content trumps advertising almost every time.”
— Howard Handler
CMO, Major League Soccer


“State Farm did a great job executing their sponsorship of the All-Star Game’s Home Run Derby. They take an ownership position, activate on-site and take the promotion online and outside of the host city. It also has a cause tie-in — all key elements we see in our research for driving high ROI.”
— AJ Maestas
President, Navigate Research




The biggest trend in sponsorship activation that you are focused on is …

“Over activation. Companies are spending too much money to reach too few people.”
— Mark Dowley
Partner, DDCD & Partners


“Making sure we use our resources to support key growth initiatives and get full activation. Balance between assets and activation.”
— Matt Mirchin
Senior VP, global sports branding marketing, Under Armour

“The creation of second- and third-screen applications that enhance the fan experience while deeply integrating partner brands within our environment. We have recently launched a new platform called Raw Active that enables a two-way conversation with fans, which plays out, in real time, in our live TV programming. It leverages fans’ existing involvement with a variety of social media tools, from Facebook to social video provider Tout, and provides sponsors an opportunity to truly engage with our … fans.”
— Andrew Judelson
Executive VP, sales and partnership marketing, WWE


“Leveraging new technology and data to create meaningful, personalized connections with scale across mediums. The industry has been accustomed to ad buys that provide scale but little personalization, or experiential marketing with personal connections but limited scale. However, new technology leveraging consumer information across mobile, WebTV, social media, etc., may help bridge the gap and provide brands and consumers with richer experiences.”
— Todd Fischer
Manager, marketing communications, State Farm


“The trend right now is how the use of mobile technology and social media have moved from the bottom to the top of the activation mix. It’s not just about eyeballs on signs any longer, and mobile and social are providing us ways to more deeply engage with fans to deliver a memorable brand experience. And, we’re able to engage fans regardless of whether they’re in the stadium at game time, or literally anywhere else on the planet.”
— Beth Hirschhorn
EVP, global brand, marketing and communications, MetLife


“Significantly improving the measurement and accountability of sponsorship investments so that they can be as effective as possible. We’re working on a new initiative, called Precision Market Insights, that will utilize Verizon Wireless’ network data to help us and others understand and engage sports and entertainment venue audiences on a previously unreachable level, well beyond just purchased ticket information.”
— Tami Erwin
CMO, Verizon Wireless


“The use of rights and marks in social and new media.”
— AJ Maestas
President, Navigate Research


“Activation. Companies know how to acquire assets, but have no idea how to activate, and most never get activated.”
— Tom Shine
Senior VP, sports and entertainment, Reebok




What is the most valuable part of your current package of sponsorship rights?

“Unique and ownable inventory secured to address a specific business opportunity. Differentiation is key in such a cluttered category. Marketing partnerships and corresponding inventory are only as valuable as the business opportunities they are intended to address.”
— Todd Fischer
Manager, marketing communications, State Farm




What piece of sponsorship inventory are you most interested in developing?


“We’re interested in developing content that consumers deem valuable and showcases the full power of Verizon’s 4G LTE network. Consumers can find content in many places today, so it’s imperative that we deliver a superior experience through what’s offered and how it’s consumed on our … network.”
— Tami Erwin
CMO, Verizon Wireless


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