Sponsorship activations delegate responsibilities and expectations, with the involved parties negotiating some level of benefit to their brand awareness and bottom lines. Ideally, sponsorships are symbiotic in the sense that each participant mutually prospers in some meaningful manner, though brands seeking to affiliate themselves with particular individuals, events, or organizations assume the brunt of the financial burden. The ROI on sponsorships are measured in many ways, from creating goodwill with the public or by simply assessing the number of products sold or profits made as a result of the affiliation.
Sponsorships, however, must be authentic. Modern consumers know the difference between crass or obsequious public relations stunts and genuine brand affiliations. Technology allows consumers to access information immediately and intimately. Brands the commit cultural transgressions such as a tone deaf or offensive tweet, or experience a public relations fiasco resulting from bad business practices or the personal meltdown of a public figure, become instant news. Sponsorships involve inherent risks and rewards, and brands must conduct due diligence before embarking on a relationship with another entity.
Sponsorship collaborations range from obviously simple to perplexingly odd, and even uncomfortably desperate. Sports-related brands such as Nike and Gatorade comfortably and organically partner with popular sports personalities, leagues, and events. Nike, for example, enjoys an established, globally recognized brand that is associated with uplifting aspects of competition including motivation, discipline, and teamwork. However, sponsorships that involve sports-related events or people such as the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics or Seattle Seahawk Russell Wilson require a different tack for brands that sell, for instance, fast food or shampoo.
Messaging is key to characterizing sponsorships, which are true relationships. To the public – especially discerning and media-savvy Millennials – odd relationships quickly become suspicious and inauthentic, such as when an energy brand coping with a natural disaster PR crisis suddenly sponsors environmentally friendly causes and organizations. Authenticity is the future of sponsorship activations, and brands must realize that true sponsorships, like relationships, are developed over time. Wise brands are thoughtful about sponsorships, and advocate for their internal values by empowering like-minded causes and businesses. Starbucks, for example, understands the power and benefits of sponsoring brand-aligned organizations and companies.
Factory 360 built its diverse team based on the idea that bringing diligent, talented people together creates unprecedented opportunities to achieve greatness. Factory 360 approaches sponsorship activation with this same sensibility, knowing that combining assets, values, and talents within a focused objective can impact brands and the marketplace in profound ways. The Factory 360 Sponsorship Activation team distills partnerships into commonalities – a passion for technology, a concern for human rights, an eye for design and fashion – that can be melded into formidable campaigns, strategies, and messaging. Relationships require significant work and effort, but chemistry, which often takes time, is invaluable. Some collaborations appear to be a matter of destiny. Factory 360 excels at expediting that destiny, identifying sponsors and partners who need help or haven’t discovered each other yet, and leads them to long-term branding prosperity.
Sponsorship Activation: Austin Food & Wine Festival and Kim Crawford
Austin, Texas, and New Zealand are a world apart and make for unlikely partners. However, the Factory 360 team made an immediate connection between Austin, known for its quirky, artful denizens who value local businesses, and the revolutionary New Zealand brand, Kim Crawford, renowned for unoaked chardonnay – and replacing the customary cork stopper with the utilitarian screw cap that better preserves freshness. Two brands defined by originality and an appreciation for function and artisanship.
Factory 360 brokered the sponsorship between the Austin Food & Wine Festival and Kim Crawford, and also developed the festival properties experiential marketing campaign. An authentic synergy existed between the two partners, and the Factory 360 team focused on developing those common brand values and attributes. The relationship provided the Austin Food & Wine Festival with a distinctive wine brand, and afforded Kim Crawford the perfect aesthetic partner to showcase their distinguished wines.
Sponsorship Activation: August Wilson and Lincoln Motor Company
August Wilson, the prestigious American playwright who won two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama, never designed an automotive exhaust system. The Lincoln Motor Company, however, employs entire teams of engineers for such projects. A collaboration between August Wilson, who passed away in 2005, and the Lincoln Motor Company appears – on the surface – like an odd partnership. However, closer analysis reveals powerful commonalities and shared values that resonate with the African-American community – a demographic moved by the important themes and genius of August Wilson’s work, that is also among Lincoln’s targeted customer base.
Factory 360’s strategy celebrated August Wilson’s literary influence in American culture and Lincoln’s storied brand history and impact on the nation’s automotive industry. Lincoln sponsored ten readings of August Wilson’s most profound writing that aired on NPR to a nationwide audience. Affiliated events – meet-and-greets, dinners, and other literary performances – were held at the NPR headquarters in New York City, attracting celebrities and cultural influencers who promoted Lincoln’s brand awareness and August Wilson’s legacy throughout prominent PR, news media, and digital properties.
Call Factory 360 For All Your Sponsorship Needs
Factory 360 appreciates that the world is more connected today that it has been in the history of the human race. Technology and telecommunications have collapsed time and eradicated borders so that consumers, particularly Millennials, become instantly aware of developments concerning their favorite brands and products. Contextualizing this dynamic information through trusted relationships, in the form of sponsorships, enables brands to increase awareness and form strong bonds with consumers who share similar values and sensibilities. Factory 360 is there to facilitate sponsorship activations that create awareness and results.