Sponsorship Marketing Columbus OH
Event Sponsorships: Forgetting the ROI?
It all started with a flash of American superiority and a bruised royal ego. In 1851, a yacht owned by the New York Yacht Club easily beat 15 of the fastest British yachts in a race around the Isle of Wight. Surprised at the result, Queen Victoria was reported to have asked who had come second and was politely informed: 'There is no second, your Majesty.' The America's Cup had begun.
After 156 years and 38 contests, the finally returned to Europe. In April of last year, yachts from 11 nations began competing in Valencia to see who would eventually race the current holder, the Swiss yacht Alinghi. It always is a massive event, but arguably those with the most to lose are not the yachtsmen or countries involved. In fact they play an almost peripheral role compared with the companies spending nine-figure sums to associate their brand with the event.
As I walked around Valencia, Spain's newly designed marina it could easily be likened to visiting an exotic menagerie of big brands with some of the fattest marketing budgets on the planet. BMW and Oracle had joined forces with Allianz to sponsor the American yacht. A few meters away the French boat sponsored by Areva, the French nuclear power company. For reasons that werent immediately obvious, New Zealand's entrant was sponsored by Emirates. Most companies pay upwards of $100m to be a sponsor. Meanwhile, supporter brands such as Vodafone (the official phone network), Nespresso (the official coffee) and Adecco (the official HR supplier) were also stumping up millions to be a part of it.
With stunning locations adorned with glamorous yachting fraternity, it would be all too easy for marketers to lose their focus and fall into the ancient trap of assuming anyone spending this kind of money must know what they are doing. It is exactly these big-money events at which a marketer must maintain their ROI focus. How, we should ask, can a B2B software company such as Oracle justify spending that kind of money on a yacht race? What, we may wonder, is the link between nuclear power and yachting? And what has Emirates got to do with the Kiwis?
The answer is in the two elements of brand equity. To create a strong brand, marketers must first build awareness among the target market to establish its existence. Then they need to build the right associations that will ensure differentiation and strong relationships with customers.
While it is true that most of the sponsoring brands gained significant awareness from the event, it is hard to justify their investment simply with media mentions. There were 11 boats competing for attention on the water and soon 10 of them would be out of the race.
It is even harder to prove ROI in terms of brand associations. Most of the sponsoring brands had no legitimate connection to yachting or the Cup itself, so their marketing teams were working overtime to highlight their 'authentic' role in the event. Alcatel-Lucent showcased the ...