Being back in Newport after a trip out west to Sundance for the acclaimed film festival has given us some time to reflect on what was for us here at Performance Research, the most interesting movie of the festival – “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” by Morgan Spurlock.
While I am sure the majority of you know what the movie is about, for those who do not, here is the recap:
Director Morgan Spurlock completes a successful plight to create a film of which the main subject is corporate product placement in television and movies. Of course, there is a twist, and the twist is he successfully demonstrates how to garner product placement, by cleverly gaining corporate sponsors to fund the very movie (while filming the entire process) being made. Effectively, the movie becomes a ‘how to’ documentary for anyone looking to find corporate support, while also questioning the notion that Hollywood is ‘selling out’.
Now as those of us who are in tune with the world of marketing know, product placement has been around for a long time, and will continue to be part of the world in which we live for the foreseeable future. That being said, while Spurlock’s film does a good job of educating the masses about product placement and how marketers choose to advertise their product, here at Performance Research, the film nudged us to think more about the effectiveness of this tool. This meaning, does product placement work?
Of course, without conducting specific studies into the value of product placement little can be verified, but we do believe many of the same rules we apply to event sponsorship also apply to product placement. The brand must activate and engage the viewers, just like they would attendees at a sporting event or during a mobile marketing unit tour. In doing so, product placement has the potential to become a fruitful form of advertising, reaching the masses, while possibly creating a desire for the product you are pitching.
Spurlock’s movie certainly created a buzz regarding this subject and we imagine it will grow when the film is released nationwide in April. We look forward to watching it again in the spring and in the meantime we will keep our sponsor eye looking for great activation of product placement in film and television.
Just yesterday while waiting in yet another airport terminal, we noticed a great activation that actually enhances someones airport wait time experience! In a co-branded effort from Microsoft and Southwest Airlines, the two companies have placed a photo booth in select airport terminals where travelers can pose in front of a snowy landscape and even take a seat with Santa. After your photo is taken, you will receive a printed copy and also have the chance to use Windows Live to edit and share your photo over the internet!
Good job by both Microsoft and Southwest in making the wait at the airport more bearable and in step with the season via their “Holiday photos on the Fly” campaign!
Here at Performance Research we often applaud sponsorship deals where not only cash is exchanged in return for branding rights, but when we see these deals actually make a positive difference for each of the parties involved. One recently announced sponsorship where we feel confident that both sides will benefit is the agreement between the Association of Tennis Professionals and FedEx.
The worldwide shipping giant has signed on for three years as a sponsor of 17 ATP World Tour tournaments, while also gaining global marketing rights. Now while this agreement will offer FedEx a plethora of exposure on both television and on ATPWorldTour.com, there is one way in which they are activating their sponsorship that has us most impressed.
In a play off their ability to provide reliable delivery service to customers, FedEx has developed the “FedEx Reliability Zone”, an online destination where fans can go to view in depth analysis of their favorite players, including match records and athlete consistency in every situation from opponents, pressure level and type of court surface. By developing this great resource for fans and placing the information prominently on ATPWorldTour.com, FedEx is truly using their position as a sponsor to make a connection with not only tennis buffs, but with fans who are in need of a one stop destination to gear up on tour knowledge.
Hopefully other corporate sponsors can take a cue from FedEx by providing a great feature for fans that is also relevant to the service which their company provides.
As I look out of the window here in Newport on another cold, rainy day in New England, I start to think about how fortunate we are when we do get great weather. Soon enough the air will begin to warm up, our days will be longer, and even the water temperature surrounding the island will slowly begin to rise.
Sitting here at my desk while thinking about the weather triggered the sponsorship side of my brain and how sponsors must deal with mother nature at events. While in our own lives we have seasons to sit around and wait for the weather to get better, a sponsored event or activation can be as a short lived as a few hours. What is a sponsor to do?
For my answer I looked to Performance Research Senior Project Manager Marc Porter who has traveled the globe with event research teams, braving nearly every weather condition imaginable.
Marc said “Although you must obviously stay positive, anticipating and planning for the worst (weather) is always important”. He also mentioned how sponsors can react to the weather and respond with something that would make the spectators appreciate them, like free branded ponchos, etc.
Hopefully no one out there is going to have to take Marc’s advice, but remember it’s always in the sponsor’s best interest to plan for the worst and then hope for the best.
Has sponsorship gone to the dogs?
Sometimes the simplest activations are the most effective. These dogs we saw last week in Vancouver were a huge draw for anyone passing by!
If you are a loyal follower of this blog, you might notice that every time we go to an event for on site research we notice an activation that provokes a positive reaction amongst myself, our group, and most importantly the event attendees. Our most recent trip to Winter X Games 14 held in Aspen, CO was no different.
While on the mountain at Snowmass we came across an ESPN X Games activation that allowed skiers and snowboarders to strap on a helmet-cam and ride down the mountain while the camera was recording. Each small video cam (one pointed at your face, and the other looking forward) starts rolling as you head down the hill into a little terrain park. The park packed in some mini features including two small jumps along with a few rails and boxes for riding over.
After your run is over, the cam was handed over to the friendly staff at the bottom of the hill, who then edited the footage on site, uploaded it to YouTube, and sent the link to your email address practically before you could make it to après-ski.
Very cool engagement from ESPN. If you want to check out the author of this post riding and many other talented athletes with the helmet cam, click on this link and go to the Sno Cam Experience:
This past weekend I took a quick trip down to NYC to visit some old friends and take care of some holiday shopping. Of course, despite the tugs from my girfriend, I could not help but stop and analyze what some companies were up to as far as sponsorship and activation.
One of the moments that really pushed me to take out the camera and notepad was upon seeing a Metro PCS promotion in the Soho neighborhood of Manhattan. There was a woman dressed up in a purple Metro PCS outfit, standing on a corner outside a subway stop. Now this seems like a perfect opportunity to shout your message, right? Too bad it wasn’t working out as planned.
Even though that particular corner wasn’t the busiest citywide, the real problem was the lack of enthusiasm from the employee. The hired worker basically just stood there, not going up to anyone and looking totally non commited to her role. As we pointed out a few weeks ago in discussing the Charmin pop up in Times Square, with its outstanding engagement approach, peoples attitudes are the KEY to on street promotions. If you smile and interact with everyone that passes by, you have a much higher success rate than just standing there (Duh!).
Another two potential customers walk by, unengaged.
Now that we establshed that the Metro PCS promotional worker should have been more effective, lets take a look at who else was responsible for this quiet city corner.
While we are not sure whether this particular promotion was a result of a local store or the national headquarters, we are sure that a person in charge should make sure that everything is working! From a corporate perspective, if they are providing a promotional budget for a local store to hire this girl, shouldn’t they make sure the local store knows how to run the event properly? And from the other side, if corporate is running the promo, shouldn’t they have someone from within operating hands on when training the staff and picking a location? Either way, choosing and managing proper staff would do worlds to make this promotion more effective.
Hopefully in the future, Metro PCS and other companies with good ideas should take it a step further to make sure their plans are carried out with the same energy that was used in the creation process.
During our trip to NY last week we found the time to check out what some companies were up to in light of the holiday season. Our search led us to Times Square where we located the Charmin “Enjoy the Go” Pop Up on Broadway. The general idea behind the toilet paper brands space was to offer clean restrooms to the millions that flock to Times Square this time every year. This ground breaking service has been offered for the past four years and appears to be a great success.
While the main feature of the Pop Up is to provide the public with restrooms, the highlight of the area was the crew of employees that truly activated the venue. Starting with a team on the street, the Charmin brand ambassadors invited people inside with clear and energetic actions. Once you entered the building, the positive energy did not fade amongst any of the crew that led you to the restrooms, the facebook/twitter stations (where you can talk about your “go”) and even when they were taking your photo on atop the giant “throne”.
It was great to see such enthusiasm amongst a team of employees while present at a branded space. It’s also great to see how Charmin can change something as dull and monotonous as using the restroom into something exciting that people want to be a part of. Thanks for keeping us engaged!
Make sure to check out the photos below and for more info about “Enjoy the Go” check out http://tinyurl.com/ygmx5yb
If you have ever been to the Futbol Fiesta prior to a Mexican National Soccer Team game then you already know that it offers a party like atmosphere including loud music, games, player appearances, and dozens of other activations presented by the sponsors. If you are a first timer (like I was last month in Dallas when Mexico played Colombia), then you are in for quite the experience. If you like to see passionate fans, engaged by equally ardent sponsors, than look no further!
Like all the events we attend, no matter how many good activations are present (quite a few in this case), there is usually one that really piques our interest. The activation that “Caught Our Eye” this time was presented by Home Depot. The Home Depot had several different booths open to fans, with multiple activities on hand. The particular aspect of their activation which impressed us the most was how they gave fans paint, brushes (items they sell) and large poster boards in order to make signs for the game. Whether you were painting the words “Let’s go Mexico!” or “Colombia Rules!”, you were able to take the sign into the Cotton Bowl for the game, and then bring the poster home with you as a souvenir.
Not only did Home Depot engage fans by offering them the chance to directly participate with the soccer game, they also encouraged the use of their retail products and sent people home happy with free memorabilia. It seems to make perfect sense why the Home Depot activation was one of the busiest we saw.
We all know that the current economic state has affected the way that companies spend their marketing and sponsorship budgets in regards to major sports properties like NASCAR and the PGA. If we take a deeper look, we can also see how the little guy is being affected by corporate budget cuts. One example is the current situation facing the All American Soap Box Derby. Since 1933, the AASBD has been the governing body of American soap box racers. They govern regional events, culminating with a National Championship in Akron, Ohio each July.
Two years ago the AASBD lost their title sponsor and are now struggling to stay afloat as they will incur a financial loss for the second year in a row. With only a few regional sponsors, and a dwindling budget, the organization hopes that some company will come forward with the $250,000 annual title sponsor charge. While the price may seem relatively small compared to the fees charged by larger organizations, the AASBD is constantly reminded about the lack of marketing funds from potential sponsors for the upcoming year So what is the organization supposed to do?
Well it seems as if the AASBD has a plan. This non-for-profit group is taking a new approach in which their value to potential sponsors is highlighted. Right in step with the green movement amongst Corporate America, the group will focus its sponsor pitch on the fact that their sport uses only gravity during competition. Paul Swangard of the University of Oregon recently remarked in USA Today that the AASBD has “been green longer than Al Gore”, and suggests that an alternative energy company may want to sign on at this price.
The fact that the AASBD is presenting themselves off as a green group may be just the type of sales pitch that they need. This, coupled with their non-for-profit classification puts them in a prime spot for companies wanting to benefit from cause marketing. As we have mentioned on this blog previously, cause marketing in the current economy ensures companies remain relevant through sponsorship, while touching a positive place in the hearts of consumers.
Besides the opportunity of a sponsor capitalizing on soap box racing as a non-profit eco-friendly sport, a corporation could also benefit from sponsoring a sport that is considered as American as apple pie. During this period of economic hardship it seems logical to show some national pride by teaming up with an American tradition.
It will be interesting to see which companies rev up this flailing sport, and by which methods of sponsorship they decide to activate. If a sponsor does partner with the AASBD, a strong plan of action will go a long way in benefiting from the relatively inexpensive cost of the title sponsor slot. As our Vice President Bill Doyle stated this past spring, sponsors should go on a “diet”. If done effectively, a $250,000 sponsorship of this worthwhile organization seems like it could match a sponsorship manager’s appetite perfectly.