The sport sponsorship landscape can be a cluttered and competitive environment for brands. Just tune in to the next NHL game and look at what’s stamped on rink boards, frozen in the ice, and floating on the glass behind the nets. More than ever, partners are fighting for awareness and a comfortable place to tell their unique story with consumers.
Ads are splashed across venues, product placement fills social media feeds, branded content is popping up everywhere, and endorsements are commonplace. But are these brands standing out? Technology, second-screen viewing, social media, and digital content are opening up more channels for brands to engage with their audience, but with the emergence of these new platforms, brands are still finding it hard to engage with their audience in a meaningful way.
As brands continue to jostle with one another for the consumer’s attention, it’s important to take a step back and think both creatively and critically. Think about your organization’s goals. Think about the message you want to convey to your audience. Think about the story your brand wants to tell.
We believe in the power of blue water – an opportunity where you can tell your brand’s story and stand apart from your competitors in the marketplace. Blue water is the opposite of shark infested waters – space your competitors already occupy. Discovering the blue water that is right for a brand requires creative thinking, insights, and most importantly, courage.
When Canada’s national snow sport organizations came together in 2013 to create Snow Sports Canada, a consortium of their collective marketing rights, they had a vision of creating a brand that represented the perseverance, excellence and world-class abilities of our snow sport athletes. They also knew the opportunity that existed to tap into the consumer passion of the nearly six million recreational skiers and snowboarders in Canada.
Shortly after the brand launched, iON Cameras joined the family as the first corporate partner. A new brand in Canada, iON Cameras recognized the need to connect authentically with Canadians while showcasing the versatility and utility of their product line. By leveraging Snow Sports Canada athletes to create unique and original content and deliver this content directly to consumers, iON is realizing the potential of blue water by tapping directly into a consumer passion point.
Mackenzie Investments also found their blue water in a partnership with Snow Sports Canada and dove in head first. In September, they announced a long-term partnership which aimed to build on its long history of supporting grassroots snow sports in Canada by targeting an authentic and highly engaged audience. The ski community in Canada welcomed an enthusiastic partner who will directly impact the development of grassroots and high performance athletes.
Mackenzie’s activations, such as the new micro site, poweringperformance.ca, are increasing awareness of Canada’s snow sports athletes, as well as the Mackenzie brand. Interactive discussion boards, athlete profiles, behind the scenes branded content, and promotion of grassroots news through the microsite, social media channels, and television advertising are helping to grow awareness like never seen before from a corporate partner in this area.
Snow Sports Canada and Mackenzie Investments kicked off the partnership last November in Lake Louise as presenting sponsor of the Audi FIS Nakiska Ski Cross World Cup, where the benefit to fans was substantial. Mackenzie worked to create an enthusiastic atmosphere by bringing in an emcee, handing out free cowbells so the crowd could cheer on our athletes, and even worked with CBC to live stream the event so that fans at home could take part in the action.
Mackenzie is proving to be a dedicated supporter of snow sports, with a partnership with athletes and select National sport organizations. Mackenzie collaborated with Alpine Canada to add excitement and credibility to the first ever National Ski Day, which provided significantly discounted lift ticket prices ensuring the event was accessible to all and encouraging a larger, louder crowd to cheer on our athletes as they opened the Ski Cross World Cup season. The investment firm is also partnering with Canada’s best athletes, most recently supporting Manuel Osborne-Paradis in a multi-year endorsement deal. Snow is now the cornerstone of Mackenzie’s sponsorship strategy.
Mackenzie is benefiting from their first mover advantage with Snow Sports Canada, which is allowing the brand to quickly grow an authentic relationship and reputation with the snow sports community. Snow Sports Canada is the epitome of a blue water. Whether it is unfettered access to a desirable demographic or ability to tell an inherently Canadian story, brands are taking full advantage of the benefits and standing out from the crowd.