Event Sponsorship Case Study

Sponsorship Case Studies – August 2013 Edition

This is a guest post by Michelle Norris, Power Sponsorship’s first ever intern. Michelle will be researching best practice sponsorship case studies and sharing them with you on this blog for the next several months. You’ll find more on Michelle and how to contact her below.

ANZ + Wicked – The Official Bank of OZ

This sponsorship case study was presented to me at a seminar at the start of year. It was the first example that I was exposed to of a sponsorship that was concentrated on enhancing the experience of the target audience and was the catalyst that encouraged me to learn more about the sponsorship industry.

Wicked is one of the world’s most successful musicals and in 2008 it was set to tour Australia. ANZ partnered with the stage production to reflect the company’s commitment to community and the community’s passions for the arts. A clever catch phrase was coined, ‘ANZ the official bank of Oz’ however, their leveraging idea went further than this reflecting the company’s authenticity. This campaign was centred around increasing the musical theatre’s accessibility.

The forefront of their strategy was the ‘Win a part in Wicked’ competition, which gave one fan the opportunity to win a one-night walk-on role in the show. A competition website gave fans and competitors access to all campaign messages, including the YouTube auditions. Live tweets by cast members provided an insight into the industry and particularly a theoretical ‘back-stage pass’ into Wicked the Musical.

The above video shows the incredible experience achieved by the winner of the competition, Henry Brett. Brett mentions that this opportunity bridged a gap by making breaking into the musical theatre industry obtainable to him, something he did not believe possible. Following the announcement of the Brett winning, photos of his costume fitting, rehearsals and performance were posted, which attracted hundreds of fans’ interest. ANZ succeeded in engaging their audience by making Brett’s unique experience available to the wider community.Interestingly enough Bluetooth activity was integrated into the marketing campaign of the partnership, which was a leading technology at the time. Bluetooth units were installed at the Regent Theatre and in three ANZ Melbourne CBD branches. These gave ANZ customers and musical patrons access to download exclusive content such as clips from the launch event and cast interviews.

Why This Works

This campaign is all about making the behind the scenes, exclusive and sometimes unobtainable facets of the musical theatre industry available to a broader audience. This demonstrates the importance ANZ places on the individual and galvanizes the company’s community focus. This is a strategic campaign that doesn’t get caught up in the musical entertainment “being enough”, it is clear that both companies are focused on enhancing the experience had by the audience.

ANZ and Wicked have combined their powers to produce a meaningful and unique best practice sponsorship, which certainly ticks all the boxes for me!

Source: http://www.marketingmag.com.au/case-studies/followtheyellowbrickroad-4317/#.Ug75MxbV1EA

Mastercard + Stand Up to Cancer – ‘Dig in and Do Good’

MasterCard has been focused on what is invaluable in the world since the launch of their ‘Priceless’ campaign in 1997 which surrounded the slogan “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard”. The partnership between Mastercard and Stand Up to Cancer provides MasterCard cardholders with a personal buy in and the opportunity to experience something that is truly Priceless, Curing cancer.

MasterCard had created a cause marketing campaign, which is far better than points, with the goal being to raise $4million dollars for Stand Up to Cancer.  Stand Up To Cancer aims to accelerate innovative cancer research industry by encouraging collaboration for a united stand against this terrible disease, the charity is focused on saving lives now. The partnership’s slogan ‘Dig In & Do Good’ rewards customers who use their MasterCard card to pay for a meal $10 or more, for each meal paid for MasterCard will make a donation of 1 cent to Stand Up To Cancer.

MasterCard has created a clever campaign page on their website, which enables cardholders to the book a table, show support, nominate their favourite restaurants, donate, and learn more about the cause. The ‘book a table’ page is an ingenious way to schedule in some philanthropy in customer’s friends and families diaries! This page really reflects the Stand Up to Cancer spirit in banding together for a good cause and making an immediate difference.

MasterCard has really thought about what is useful and how they can be of assistance to their customers by providing them with an inherently social and functional platform. The addition of Chirpify allows participants to donate directly by social media! This totally blew my mind. I didn’t even know that you could do that! It is a very clever advertisement as well as being a simpler way to donate… it’s now only a tweet away.

Why This Works?

This partnership works as it fits incredibly well with both parties existing marketing efforts, defines both brands to the target market, and most importantly puts the cardholders first! The whole campaign is based on making the customer feel good. The integration of both brands and the audience into creating a united approach in the stand against cancer is well thought out and seamlessly executed.

The campaign engages a wide audience, positively encourages them to “Dig In & Do Good”, gives them access to a priceless experience, adds value to the brand via a unique and technologically advanced platform. What more could you want? This is a true example of win-win-win sponsorship.


Hong Kong Rugby Sevens + Carlsberg

It must have been a full… er… moon when the marketing department at Carlsberg came up with their leveraging idea for their 2011 sponsorship of the Hong Kong Sevens. Carlsberg has targeted the core young adult male demographic with a clever campaign to get people talking about the football tournament. They have created an interactive online game based around the iconic rugby activity of streaking, called Carlsberg Rugby Fever. The campaign gives everyone a good laugh and creates a quirky association to the Carlsberg brand.

Carlsberg has personalised the app by allowing players upload a profile picture and transform into a naked ‘streaker’ avatar, every man’s dream. The aim is to be the quickest in the three legged race down the pitch, dodging a plethora of obstacles such as police women, bottles, and clothing! The fastest scores win prizes such as game tickets and merchandise; this adds ‘pressure’ on the player to perform well which is synonymous with the feeling rugby players face when running down the field. The app plays on the football fan psyche which is focussed on the entertainment and mateship aspect of football, by giving players to ability to share their scores on social media.

“For the participants, the Rugby Sevens is a serious tournament. For the fans that play the game it is a lot more fun. But there is still a serious side – if they do well at the game, they are in the running to get free tickets to the event – something every serious fan would love” – Barbara Yeh, General Manager of Euro RSCG Hong Kong

In order to maximise exposure and participation the digital campaign is also supported at key locations. The Hong Kong bar scene is targeted with promotional girls, roadshow trucks, tablets and as well as booths at the stadium on game days, to enhance the tangible rugby experience.

Why This Works

In my opinion beer is a direct cause of streaking and therefore this campaign is well matched and works effectively. Streaking is a long time fan favourite in rugby circles giving a direct and personal link to the core market. This just proves it doesn’t have to be a complicated campaign but a simple app involving nudity to illicit a positive response in a target market!

Sources: http://www.techinasia.com/carlsberg-hong-kong-rugby-seven/


Hyundai + The Walking Dead – ‘Chop Shop’

Hyundai continually endeavours to make the safest car possible, they have taken safety to the next level with a car suitable to withstand Zombies. This is easily the coolest partnership I have written about thus far! The partnership began with all the yawn worthy product placements of a standard TV sponsorship. Then it was clear that someone in the marketing department of Hyundai stood up and said “What about the target market?”. Since that point Hyundai has built up a strong activation campaign to prove that clever TV program sponsorship can genuinely engage fans.

Zombie fever started in July last year with the unveiling of Robert Kirkman’s, creator/writer of The Walking Dead, very own customized Hyundai Elantra Coupe Zombie Survival Machine (shown in the picture below). In 2013 the partnership has extended and engaged not only the TV series fans but graphic novel fans with the ingenious interactive app called ‘The Walking Dead Chop Shop’. This app invites fan to customise a Hyundai Elantra, Veloster Turbo or Santa Fe with armour, machetes, shotguns, razor wire and horde plows and all things Zombie Killing.

Image Source: http://whennerdsattack.com/?p=7960

Hyundai and The Walking Dead understand the markets escapism qualities to the letter, by offering to bring to life the design which Kirkman deems best to withstand the zombie apocalypse. They are really giving the fan base a personal buy in which is in part due to fans challenging Kirkman’s version and its ability to survive a zombie apocalypse in the first place.  Due to this a social aspect has been included where users can like cars and comment on them.

The partnership also went into the realms of experiential events with The Walking Dead 100th issue Black Carpet event. This event gave fans the opportunity meet the celebrities on the Black Carpet, get scanned for zombie infection, tour the party and check out the survivor camp. As well as a Walking Dead Escape obstacle course at San Diego Comic-Con where fans had the chance to completely escape by entering the show and actually getting attacked by Zombies!

Why This Works

Once again I have to stress how much I love this concept, they have thought about who their audience is and what will be meaningful for them. That what it is all about, engaging who you want to target with something they are interested in and letting them use your brand as a conduit to a positive experience. I think what makes this venture so successful is that both parties have leveraged the partnership and have listened to feedback from fans.

That is the key, the companies have developed. They’ve learned what it is that makes their target tick and have gone above and beyond to satisfy their fantasies…  David Matathia, Director of marketing communications at Hyundai, said “Gen Y was our bullseye, but it’s grown beyond” as the season three finale of The Walking Dead had the show’s largest audience ever with over 12.4 million viewers. I can wait to see what Hyundai does next…

Source: http://www.clickz.com/clickz/news/2285785/hyundai-feeds-walking-dead-fan-base-with-chop-shop-app


About Michelle Norris

Michelle was selected from many dozen genuine applicants from around the world to be Power Sponsorship’s first ever intern. She is currently working in sponsorship and studying for a Masters in Marketing/MBA double degree at the University of Newcastle in Australia. Her internship role is mainly research and case study analysis.

If you’d like to connect with this very talented sponsorship star in the making, or if you have a case study you think she should review, feel free to contact her:

Michelle Norris on LinkedIn
Michelle Norris on Twitter

We’re also opening (and moderating) comments on these case study blogs!

© Kim Skildum-Reid. All rights reserved. For republishing information see Blog and White Paper Reprints.

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Sponsorships have become a financial cornerstone for most events. This is largely due to a discrepancy between the high costs of event production and the need to charge attendees a realistic ticket price or event registration fee. But the business of event sponsorship is changing to help event organizers add a valuable revenue stream to their events and conferences.

The Event Manager Blog’s annual Industry Trends Report suggests thatplanners must reevaluate the way event sponsorship is handled, because traditional methods are no longer working. Providing great exposure to sponsors “means working together with sponsors that are relevant, personal and add value,” the report says.

Gone are the days when sponsors and event hosts were content to plaster logos on advertising and banners and call it a day. Although signage is still important – the second largest sponsor “want” item according to one survey – experiential marketing and expanding digital platforms are increasingly giving rise to a more innovative approach.

Brands and event planners alike are getting creative to elevate sponsors’ return on investment (ROI) and build truly symbiotic, long-lasting partnerships.

According to Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, today’s event sponsors are looking for customization, connection, integration and ROI.

So, research thoroughly before approaching a new sponsor. Take a hard look at the data and make sure you can demonstrate that you have shared values.  And if you’re confident that similar objectives are part of the equation, don’t be afraid to brainstorm new ways to connect sponsors more directly with event attendees. 

The following case studies describe what went into making successful event sponsorship packages between five high-profile brands and five great events. Notice that these sponsorship packages were successful in part because organizers were comfortable providing sponsors with exposure through traditional methods and through digital ones as well. 

1. TED and Rolex

TED and its long-time conference sponsor Rolex have worked together since 2007 to underwrite the development of innovative TED media platforms. Rolex was one of the first TED partners to create original branded content specific to the TED platform – a three-minute video that highlighted its history of design and innovation.


With a launch that coincided with the 2012 annual conference and think tank, TED and Rolex came up with an IOS app called Surprise Me! (calling it “a serendipity engine”), in addition to the usual logo placement.  The app used an algorithm to identify the online Ted Talks best suited for an individual viewer based on how much time they have and what kind of experience they are looking for.

Tip: If your values are aligned, don’t be afraid to propose collaborations that extend beyond an annual event.

2. TIFF and L’Oréal

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has worked with the international cosmetics firm L’Oréal for several years with a synergy around glamour. Recently, their sponsorship has been focused on the red carpet, the traditional festival access point for Hollywood’s biggest stars, the media and the public. From that nexus, an entire panoply of promotions – social media, live streaming of stars supporting premieres, virtual makeup testing apps, along with more conventional elements such as media placements on transit and billboards and special limited edition TIFF nail polish collections were launched.

Tip: Sponsors love category exclusivity. Can you “give” them an entire (preferably high profile) event, sidebar or other forum? From there the sky's the limit for further promotion and profile opportunities.

Work with sponsors to create experiences or provide services for attendees, rather than just handing out products or relying on logos. 

3. BlogHer and Sara Lee

BlogHer is an online network of female bloggers with a fast-growing annual two-day conference that attracts more than 3,000 attendees and 100 event sponsors.

In 2010, the conference offered sponsor, Sara Lee-owned food companies, Hillshire Farm and Jimmy Dean the largest booth on the expo floor, an 80-foot by 20-foot kitchen for chef demonstrations, tastings, and a sandwich-making competition hosted by Padma Lakshmi. “They realized the value of having this in-person connection with bloggers,” Erin Groh, who headed up sponsor services at BlogHer, told PRWeek.

The main goal for most sponsors is to build relationships with attendees, and thus Groh has encouraged companies to create experiences that resonate with the audience rather than just hand out product samples. “We counseled them to offer a service to attendees.” As a result Sara Lee was able to also give bloggers a sneak peak of its new products, a valuable opportunity for feedback and connection.

Sara Matheu, director of communications for Sara Lee North America, said, “We came out of it with so many insights, so much amazing content and a great group of new brand ambassadors.”

Tip: Allow sponsors some kind of direct access to attendees. Whether it’s a product launch, data collection or a face-to-face encounter, this kind of interactive connection is of considerable value to all concerned.

4. TechCrunch Disrupt and New Relic

New Relic, a cloud-based software platform for analyzing and tracking data, and they’re proud to be a “nerdy” company.

For several years, New Relic sponsored Tech Crunch Disrupt, which is a series of highly revered conferences for the tech industry.

As a pre-event kickoff, organizers created a “Hackathon.” Participants had a short amount of time to quickly build a cool new product.

New Relic provided food and drinks for the Hackathon after party and announced the winner of the best B2B application with a prize that included a MacBook Pro, a year’s subscription to New Relic Pro, and a feature on their blog.

New Relic also tweeted and shared videos of the competing hackers on social media and on their blog.

Tip: Show potential sponsors that they’ll be backing a winner. Awards and competitions can be the highest profile features of an annual event, generating the most excitement, and long-term returns through media coverage. 

5. SXSW Interactive and Ten-X

Each year, South By Southwest (SXSW) music and film festival brings together the world’s creative leaders and brightest minds in innovative thinking to Austin Texas.

The online real estate marketplaceTen-X is was first time major sponsor at a this year’s gathering. They are announcing their arrival with the Ten-X Flyaway Contest featuring a prize package for two that includes hotel, airfare and registrations for two to attend SXSW Interactive (another SXSW event).

Tip: Work with sponsors to optimize interaction with attendees even before the event begins and right through event registration. This can take the form of a contest like Ten-X Flyaway, or a link, description or logo on registration and welcome materials. 

Next Steps

In the increasingly competitive push for sponsorship dollars, event planners must start to think outside of the box of logo placement and gold/silver/bronze levels of sponsorship.

As with everything else in business these days, event organizers who pay careful attention to the wants and needs of partners, and who are able to both think creatively and prove ROI will be most likely to form long lasting relationships with event sponsors.

For more help on finding, pitching and keeping event and conference sponsors, download a free ebook: Catching The Big Fish: The Event Sponsorship Guide by clicking the button below.


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