Why Sponsorship Works—or Doesn’t

Why Sponsorship Works—or Doesn’t

There was an old belief that sponsorship could not be measured for results, so it didn’t really work. We know better today because there are firms like ours and others that work with clients to show how they can track and measure success (or failure) of their sponsorship or partnership investment in everything from sales to traffic, and brand recognition to employee engagement. Over the years, I found that it was typically the folks who ran promotions that did not work that blamed sponsorship as a whole for the failure. Typically, it was a crappy sponsorship like the one I identified in a TMC back on March 31 entitled Stupid Sponsorship Activations,

I want to share some examples of great sponsorships that work—when done right.

  • Several years ago, Molson in Saskatchewan sought to increase market share inside liquor stores for its Pilsner brand. They were sponsors of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. They took that sponsorship and leveraged it. They knew the Rider logo was coveted and that Saskatchewan fans were beyond engaged. They are the most loyal fans in the CFL. So to sell more Pilsner through liquor stores, they leveraged their sponsorship rights fee. They produced car window flags and holders with the Rider logo. They included them in 24-bottle cases of Pilsner. They did special runs to include the value add in the cases which were fully branded with Rider pride. They bought media to support it externally and flooded the stores with point of purchase materials. It worked. The full run of beer cases sold out in half the time planned. Can a sponsorship with a beloved sports team sell more product? When done right, it sure can, and Molson and the Riders proved it.
  • When you look at AAA baseball in the USA with the MLB affiliates, you will see true creativity. Great promotions attract attendance and create experiences. When one team had a double header with a rock bottom standing team, they created “trash disco” night where fans were encouraged to bring their disco records to be collected and blown up at midfield between games. Instead of the typical 16,000 people per game that season, they had 60,000 show up. Unfortunately, capacity was only 44,000! Another team wanted to set a record for zero attendance, so they did not let fans inside the gates until after the fifth inning so they could record a zero attendance. The fans outside the stadium had full concessions and big screens available. When they entered for the sixth, it was a “sold out” stadium with zero attendance. Full stadiums with great experiences make sponsors’ cash registers ring. What more can you ask?
  • Then there is the start of the Purolator and sport program. Long before they were tackling hunger in the CFL, Purolator was promoting guaranteed overnight delivery and retail drop-off locations through a sponsorship with the Calgary Flames, then Ottawa and Toronto NHL teams. The game day experience created for top tier clients and also retail drop-off users included a morning skate viewing with the team, engagement activities with hardest shot and more, and then tickets and suite tickets for the game that night. The crowing glory for that first season was when, during a playoff game in Vancouver, the play-by-play announcer Peter Maher announced (unprompted or planned) after a fight that he was confident the Flames game video (yes, game video back then—not an MP4 transfer of video) would make the NHL New York City offices for sure because the Flames would be using Purolator to get it there overnight guaranteed and that Vancouver would not be so assured! The next day, inquiries to Purolator about guaranteed overnight delivery spiked. Yes, when done right, sponsorship works.

Whether you are looking for more content such as this or specific to the post-COVID-19 sponsorship world, the best place for insights, discussion, and learning is at the WSC® Alberta Forum in Edmonton September 29-30, the WSC® Ontario Toronto Forum (October 6-7) or the WSC® Ontario Ottawa Forum  (October 20-21, 2020). Seating for all three events is limited, so register today to ensure you get all the support you need to make your sponsorship program bounce back with success. Refund guarantees are in place, so there is no risk if you cannot attend. Register today for best pricing! 

Please continue to practice social distancing when you can, stay home when you can, stay in touch with others, and stay healthy. We want to see you at WSC® 2020!

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