Is the Noise Working?

Last summer, renowned marketer and social media icon Seth Godin wrote an article entitled “Who Decided to Add the Noise?” My good friend Gena Rotstein forwarded it to me. I can relate—and anyone in sponsorship or sports marketing, or who is a sports fan, should be able to relate as well. Mr. Godin talks about the incremental noise, music, and such in arenas and stadiums and asks, “Where is the measured success?” Back in the 90s, I recall while working for the Calgary Flames radio broadcasts (remember that lockout in 1994) and the retrofit was being done to what was then the Olympic Saddledome. It was then that the culture shifted. The move was from “hockey” to “entertainment.” The goal was (and still is) to provide an exciting entertainment period of three hours versus 60 minutes of hockey. All the staunch old timer hockey fans complained when the music was turned up, live bands appeared in the concourse, sponsors began to activate, and people were entertained whether they liked hockey or not. For $100 a seat, you’d better entertain me!

Mr. Godin asks, “Does the hype sell more sausage?” and “Where is the ROI and measurement?” I am with him. There needs to be measurement. Someone needs to say… and prove, “When I turn up the music, we get more bums in seats, sell more beer, and sponsors get more business.” If that cannot be proven, then perhaps we need to go back to 60 minutes of hockey!

Mr. Godin’s closing remarks are most applicable to all our readers: “And yes, this series of questions probably applies to your project too, noise or no noise.” Look at your sponsorship programs. As a brand, are they truly delivering measurable ROI? Do you really know? Everyday our team at the Partnership Group – Sponsorship Specialists™ works with our brand clients to measure returns. We work with them to determine if the investment is sound and how it can be activated. Is the sponsorship of the road race or after school program really paying off? Or is it a ton of glitz and show, but a vacuum for meaningful employee engagement (staff being “voluntolds” versus volunteers), client leads, sales or brand development?

On the property side, I see great organizations blinded by the glitz and glamour. An agency or sponsor comes along and paints an amazing picture of a spectacular event and payoff. But the payoff never occurs. There is no buy-in from the local chapters and the sponsor’s investment is used to fund an event that never really raised money, let alone opportunities. I have a tickle truck full of examples where such glitz and glamour turn good business decision-making processes into bad investments.

Watch out for the noise. Make sure that, as you turn up the volume, you can measure success or failure. When you can’t measure outcomes properly, success is seldom hiding in the wings!

These are just one person’s thoughts. Yours are welcomed as well. Please add your thoughts or comments below. Thank you for reading and your feedback.

Brent Barootes


  1. Sometimes it’s more about the “feel” more than the “deal”. When success is only measured on income statements, there’s no room for passion. You cannot quantify passion.

    • Success can be measured in passion…. because passion I believe delivers the bottom like. Engaged and passionate employees who support a company’s sponsorship investment, be that with a charity or a sport team are more productive and happy. Happy and productive employees mean greater productivity and less attrition. Thus, stronger bottom like. So yes, in my mind and that of our clients, passion can be quantified. Brent

  2. “The Noise” dates back to some primordial roots wherein our ancestors fiercely beat drums be it for sacrifice, celebration or war. Marketers seem to have contagiously picked up on this neanderthal “need” and resurrected it within as many properties and venues as possible. If/when it ever hits the Masters in Atlanta we can all be assured that the end is near and, having now made it’s way into tennis (“Call Me Maybe”) whose to say that won’t be in our lifetime! Does it move the ratings needle? Whose to say. I recently attended several sporting events w/ a CMO who, throughout the din, constantly took notes re the size of each of their signs, billboards, broadcast mentions etc. throughout the venue then measured the outcomes as the data rolled in which might suggest that, through it all clearer heads do prevail.

  3. Peter, as always thanks for reading and your feedback. Yes, once we see though the noice we can measure success. Brent


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