Big ideas prove key to sponsorship success

27 July 2010

NEW YORK: Brand owners hoping to make the most of their sponsorship programmes must embrace big ideas to achieve the best results, recent initiatives from Procter & Gamble and Visa suggest.

The Winter Olympics, held in Vancouver at the start of the year, attracted numerous major advertisers seeking to connect with shoppers around the world.

Visa, the financial services provider, devised a global platform promoting its affiliation with 33 competitors and national teams from the US, Canada, China, Japan and Russia.

The company developed an overarching theme of sporting excellence, with this message then tailored to 27 individual countries.

According to Antonio Lucio, Visa's chief marketing officer, the return on investment from this activity was substantial.

He also asserted that the decision to build on this premise at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa showed how vital it is to ensure all aspects of communications are closely aligned.

"It is not important, it is critical," he said. "At the end of the day, a sponsorship is nothing more than an amplification of the brand message, and it doesn't work if that message isn't ... consistent."

Procter & Gamble, the FMCG giant, spent an estimated $15m to become a partner of Team USA, a tie-up it employed to engage its core audience with "Thanks Mom" campaign during the Winter Games.

This creative was based on the sacrifices required by mothers in raising a medal-winning athlete, and also constituted the first ever multi-brand push run by the manufacturer of Tide and Pampers.

As part of the process, P&G tasked Wieden & Kennedy to pull together a spot showing moms watching their children reach their ultimate goal, which this ad being broadcast in the closing ceremony.

Marc Pritchard, Procter & Gamble's global brand-building officer, said this campaign delivered six billion impressions, with half of this total attributable to PR, two billion exposures to TV and one billion to the web.

Furthermore, the sales and share figures for featured products beat corporate targets, indicating a tangible revenue gains alongside improving levels of equity.

"We had 18 different brands that sponsored 16 different athletes. Each of [these brands] had their own idea. That was good. But we didn't think it was enough. So then we put that to our creatives," Pritchard said.

"The brief was what idea would link these 18 brands, 16 athletes and P&G. And at first it wasn't clear what that would be," he said.

Coca-Cola's marketing surrounding the FIFA World Cup similarly exploited a unifying topic of celebration in more than 100 countries.

This supported the notion of "Open Happiness" which has formed the basis of much of the beverage maker's current output.

"Our worldwide FIFA World Cup activation was a tremendous success, bringing Coca-Cola to billions of consumers across cities, across towns, villages and living rooms the world over," Muhtar Kent, its ceo, said on a conference call last week.

"We have leveraged one campaign throughout 116 markets and drove our most unified marketing communications effort yet, all by capitalizing on our global scale while communicating locally relevant, as well as compelling stories that meaningfully connect with consumers all over the world."

Data sourced from AdAge/Seeking Alpha; additional content by Warc staff