Choosing Event Opportunities

Because of the huge amount of money involved and the number of event opportunities that exist, many marketers are becoming much more strategic about the events with which they will get involved and the manner in which they will do so.

The marketing objectives and communication strategy that have been defined for the brand must be met by the event. The audience delivered by the event must match the target of the brand. The event must have sufficient awareness, possess the desired image, and be capable of creating the desired effects with that target market. Consumers must make favorable attributions to the sponsor for its event involvement. An “ideal event” might be one

(1) Whose audience closely matches the desired target Markets;
(2) That generates much favorable attention;
(3) that is unique, but not encumbered with many sponsors;
(4) That lends itself to ancillary marketing activities; and
(5) That reflects or enhances the brand or corporate image of the sponsor.

More and more firms are also using their names to sponsor the arenas, stadiums, and other venues that actually hold the events. From 1999 to 2004, over $2 billion was spend for naming rights to major North America sports facilities. For example, Petco will pay $60 million over 22 years for the rights to have San Diego’s new baseball stadium called Petco Park.

Many marketers believe that it is the marketing program accompanying an event sponsorship that ultimately determines its success. A sponsor can strategically identify itself at an event in a number of ways, including banners, signs and programs. For more significant impact, sponsors typically supplement such activities with samples, prizes advertising retail promotions, and publicity. At least two to three times the amount of the sponsorship expenditure should be spent on related marketing activities. Jamba Juice augment its running race sponsorships with bunches of runners in bananas costumes Any runner who finishes the race before a bananas gets free smoothies for a year. Jamba Juice banners are displayed all around and smoothies are sampled by race finishers and onlookers.

Event creation is a particularly important skill in publicizing fund raising drives for nonprofit organizations. Fund raisers have developed a large repertoire of special events, including anniversary celebrations, art exhibits, auctions, benefits evenings, bingo games, book sales, cake sales, contests, dances, dinners, fairs fashion shows, parties in unusual places, rummage sales tours, and walkathons. No sooner is one type of event created such as a walkathon than competitors spawn new versions, such as readathons, bikeathons, and Jogathons.

As with public relation measurement of events is difficult. There are two basic approaches to measuring the effects of sponsorship activities: The supply side method focuses to the brand by assessing the extent of media coverage; and the demand side method focuses on reported exposure from consumers. We examine each in turn.

Supply side methods attempt to approximate the amount of time or space devoted to media coverage of an event. For example, the number of seconds that the brand is clearly visible on a television screen or column inches of press clippings coverings an event that mention the brand can be estimated. This measure of potential “impressing” is then translated into an equivalent “value” in advertising dollars according to the fees associated in actually advertising in the particular media vehicle. Some industry consultants have estimated that 30 seconds of TV logo exposure during a televised event can be worth 6 to 10 or as much as 25% of a 30 second TV ad spot.