The question of activation is always a hot issue. In the past month or so, I have delivered our full day activation workshop four times across Canada, and there is still call for it. The recent Canadian Sponsorship Landscape Study revealed that spending on activation is back up, but still less than one dollar for every dollar spent on rights fees. Last month, WestJet launched a great activation of its sponsorship with the Toronto Blue Jays with the release of six videos online. They could have run with just the typical brand exposure in stadium and a TV or radio spot, but WestJet took it to the next level and delivered these online videos. WestJet is truly a leader in the activation category right now.

These are the big spend activations. As a small company, we don’t have the bank account for video production and media buys. We do eight to ten sponsorships a year. One of our best activation tools is branded merchandise. We use Promotion Resource Group (PRG) to assist us.  PRG works with us to develop, design, and implement the right branded products at the right times for the right events. At our workshops, we use branded notebooks and pens that people can use and be reminded of us daily. For special events, we use a branded satchel/bag or wireless mouse. At the recent SMCC Conference and Awards, PRG produced a set of ear buds for all registered delegates and they were branded in conjunction with the conference theme “Hear the Sponsorship Revolution.” PRG works for such big companies as CIBC and XEROX, and events such as the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s CIBC Run for the Cure, as well as smaller organizations and companies such as ours.

Here are a few key points about successful activation plans from my perspective:

  • As a property or a sponsor, make sure that activation is in the brand.
  • Don’t worry too much about the fabled “3:1” necessary level. Invest what is needed to deliver results.
  • Remember, many sponsorship rights programs have activation elements already built in, so additional spending is not required.
  • Think outside the box-don’t let the words “we can’t do that” or “we have never done that before” be part of your vocabulary.
  • Both the sponsor and the property must invest in a successful activation program.
  • Activation spends do not have to be incremental dollars-they may be accessed through existing marketing and communication budget spends.

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

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