Mike Spicer, Associate Partner
IEG’s sponsorship conference in Chicago is one of the highlights of the year for those of us in sponsorship marketing. This year, I was lucky enough to represent the TwentyTen Group at the 31st annual conference and brought back some key insights to share.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THIS YEAR’S CONFERENCE?
This year’s conference was full of great presentations and unique ideas but my favourite part of the conference was seeing so many demonstrations of true partnership coming to life. Stories went well beyond simply a brand and property developing a unique campaign to serve common goals. Examples abounded of non-traditional partnerships between multiple properties, brands, media entities, social causes and associations with the vast majority creating content-driven partnerships focused on engaging the consumer. The industry is now focused on driving true value for the consumer and creating authentic brand ambassadors in the process.
WHAT WAS THE MOST IMPACTFUL SESSION YOU ATTENDED AND WHY?
This honour would most certainly need to go to Ogilvy & Mather Rio de Janeiro (O&M) and their presentation on the Immortal Fan campaign. O&M identified a major need in Brazil – in the form of a shortage of organ donors – and harnessed the passion of local soccer fans to find a solution.
Beyond the subject matter of soccer being near and dear to my heart, this was a brilliant example of tapping into a consumer passion point to serve a larger social need. By harnessing the loyalty of football fans, O&M was able to make the subject matter immediately applicable to a large, relevant demographic and ultimately serve their identified social need.
WHAT TRENDS DO YOU SEE EMERGING IN THE MARKETPLACE, AND HOW DID IT COME TO LIFE AT IEG?
I witnessed a few trends popping up multiple times throughout the conference,
- Increase of, and emphasis on, consumer generated content
- Non-traditional media based partnerships. For example, Ford Fiesta partnering with Live Nation to create a web-based reality show
- Cause driven marketing. For example, Ogilvy & Mather with the Immortal Fan campaign and Johnson & Johnson with Mercy Ships
- Diversified media portfolio – Earned (mentions and shares), paid (traditional paid platforms and 30’s) and owned (proprietary social media, websites, blogs)
WHAT KEY POINTS DID YOU TAKE AWAY FROM THE CONFERENCE?
While the overarching theme of the conference seemed to be the importance of content generation and meaningful interaction with your consumer, the key point that I took home was the importance of thinking differently about your audience.
There were multiple examples of brands executing campaigns that intersected with consumers, while engaging in a passion point. Interestingly enough, in many cases these weren’t the brands traditional core demographic. However, by thinking differently and integrating their product authentically into the consumer experience, brands were able to garner significant good will from a new group of potential customers.
WHAT WAS THE BEST EXAMPLE OF INTEGRATED PARTNERSHIP YOU SAW DEMONSTRATED AT IEG?
It’s very tough to pick the “best” so I’ll highlight my favourite because I think it was the most creative and that would be the “Rider Challenge” campaign and partnership between Ford and Live Nation. Following on the heels of Ford’s highly successful “Fiesta Movement” campaign, these two partners came together to create a content generation machine in the form of a reality show leveraging Ford’s vehicles and Live Nation’s artists.
The show delivered against the two partners’ greatest needs: demonstrating Ford’s product to their key demographic and showcasing Live Nation’s artists while providing regular and high value content for their digital platform. Win-win.
ANY LAST THOUGHTS OR REFLECTIONS?
The conference was attended by a large number of major brands, properties and associations. Of those, there were two causes that resonated with me that I think are worthy of sharing, Mercy Ships and Global Poverty Project.
Both of these organizations are serving massive needs across the globe and are increasingly being recognized by brands as fantastic platforms to align with to illustrate social investment.