Do consumers really care who sponsors the Olympics? Will we actually drink more Coke because their logo is EVERYWHERE at the Olympics? Or do we choose our computers based on what system our schools used?
Yes and No. When brands work together with one another in an authentic way that enhances our experience the sponsorship or strategic alliance can be magical in unleashing new growth in our businesses. 1+1=3 or 5 or 10! New audiences. New uses. Unofficial endorsements of one another!
However, if they are not authentic or presented in a forced way, the result can be dilutive or negatively impact the business where 1 + 1 = a ton of money thrown down the drain!
Here are a few examples that were great and NOT so great to hopefully inspire more GREAT sponsorships and strategic alliances to keep your brands growing!
Hair Styles of the Month. This was a great strategic alliance between Unilever hair care brands and Conair back in the late ‘90’s. We secured a year long display at the end of the hair care isle in CVS stores across the country. Each month we showed a new hair style using styling aids from the Unilever and Conair product lines. Consumers had easy directions they tore off a pad at the display and all the implements/products right there to “do the do!”. Sales doubled that year for both Unilever and Conair. The only downside was P&G was not happy and they stole the display space the following year with their own program.
Lever 2000 Sponsors Movie Night with Lowe’s Theaters. This sponsorship had many opportunities to put the Lever 2000 brand in front of consumers in a unique venue, the movie theater. There were tons of live events across the country and millions of consumers reached. But, the connection between clean showered bodies and families going the movies was a bit of a stretch. The sponsorship yielded a ton of eye balls, but not a ton of sales. Several years later the team brought “Singing in the Shower” on the road with much better results because there was a logical connection between the brand and consumer behavior.
More recently, the 3d printing company, Shapeways, joins forces with Public Libraries to teach 3d printing and entrepreneurship. There is a huge learning curve to design in 3D and Libraries across the country are exploring ways to support their local communities beyond books. Why not 3D design capabilities. We developed a 10 week curriculum with the NYC Public Library Tech team so they could teach their library members directly. Once the curriculum was vetted, any library in the country can have the curriculum to share in their community. Libraries can officially join the Maker Movement and Shapeways is pioneering new ways to invite more folks to join the 3D Printing revolution!
My personal favorite is brands working with the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA). Here I have seen both great and not so great sponsorships and strategic alliances. TaylorMade and Addidas are the lead sponsors right now. The AJGA is a not for profit promoting golf with youth looking to play at the college level. While it may cost a fortune to sponsor Phil Michelson, it does not cost a fortune to sponsor the AJGA. And they are so appreciative of the brand support, they really go out of their way to recommend and thank their sponsors at every event with well over a million young athletes and their families. Every tournament, there is a parents meeting where the AJGA staff thanks TaylorMade and Adidas, explaining their contributions to the organization. Plus there are product samples given to each golfer. Adidas and Ralph Lauren both have plenty of new brand fans after every tournament. Trust me, I now buy them exclusively for my son, because they are “sick!” Or so I have been told!
However, there was a hard push by TaylorMade with their newest golf ball that just fell flat with the young athletes. TaylorMade TP5X golf balls produced a video with John Rahm from the PGA. It tried too hard to show how great the ball was and the kids mocked it for days. A clear example where knowing your audience is key. Put the balls on the driving range and let the kids see for themselves. Sponsor the social event at the AJGA for longest drive. But don’t make a video with the professional gushing about the ball like he is reading from a script. Authenticity is key and unless Jordan Spieth swears by this revolutionary golf ball, don’t bother with testimonials from the PGA.
Sponsorships and Strategic Alliances are all around us and can ignite significant credibility, remove barriers to use and unleash significant growth for our businesses. They also offer brand experiences you just can not do alone. The key is authenticity and obvious relevancy between the two brands by your target audience. Don’t be shy. Make new friends and enjoy the multiplier effect of your new relationship!