Summer sponsorship review – part II

In the first part we looked at how brands performed at the World Cup but what about the other major sports events – with many brands reaching for the mass audiences associated with the World Cup would we see some creative thinking around some of the other sporting events in the calendar?

Skoda’s long term association with Le Tour continued and they created an online fantasy Tour de France game as well as having fan parks at the stages. I spoke to people who went to stages in the UK and France and beyond some games and competitions there was nothing engaging and very little to link back to their product. Skoda’s legacy with Le Tour is through their support vehicles but it feels they could leverage that beyond winning VIP trips to stages.

Perhaps it was the proximity of the World Cup that meant a few brands decided to ignore the Commonwealth games. Given the low expectations of England at the World Cup and the fairly recent commercial success of London 2012 it may have been a wiser investment of resource – certainly for the UK market. Although sponsorship revenues increased from the last time the games came to the UK (Manchester 2002), there were less main sponsors – advantage Ford, Longines, Virgin Media, BP, Emirates and SSE then you would think.

Ford’s #playyourpart campaign focused on experiential, outdoor and social media. The Glasgow Green site let games-goers meet some of the athletes but beyond that I failed to see how they connected or involved the audience. The campaign seemed very much about the athletes but the #playyourpart hashtag looked like it was aiming for inclusivity with the audience. From what I saw it still appeared to be fairly one way traffic from Ford and their ambassadors. As such a big supporter of the games it feels like Ford could have had a stronger engagement strategy pre-event and then on the ground during the event to drive and stimulate the conversation.

Irn Bru also built a pop-up retail store made from shipping containers in Glasgow’s Merchant City that gave visitors a chance to buy some branded merchandise. For me, they missed a trick here as they secured a good sized site and could have hosted their own version of the games for visitors to take part in.

Unicef  had a rise of 69% in positive mentions through the games (Brandwatch) but more importantly raised £5 million in 11 days – a record amount over that period. Although they weren’t an official sponsor they struck a deal with the games organisers to raise money for kids in the Commonwealth countries and set up a digital control centre in Glasgow to communicate and manage their #putchildrenfirst campaign message. When their campaign message was broadcast in the opening ceremony they raised 2.5 million in the next 2 hours. Hopefully we’ll see similar opportunities for sports events and charities working together in the future.

Once the medals are given out and the players go home, brand owners need to be reflecting on their own performance. For the athletes taking part in these competitions it may represent the pinnacle of their career but for brands it is part of a longer strategy. It’s not enough to badge your logo on an area or a fan park at an event. Giving people a VIP experience is fine but that’s hospitality – and once they’ve taken your drink what do they have left? We can be a lot smarter creating experiences. Of course there are quick-wins and capitalising on moments is great but they can fade fast in brand terms. Sponsorship activation shouldn’t just be about during the event, it begins way before that. Understanding your consumer and creating experiences that they will take away with them and contribute to the equity of your brand should be the ultimate goal.

Making the ‘smarter’ world more human.

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