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“Putting Context into Sponsorship”
by Rick Jones

My friend Kim Skildum-Reid, co-author of The Sponsor’s Toolkit and The Sponsorship Seeker’s Toolkit has written a terrific article entitled “Last Generation Sponsorship”.  She says that sponsorship marketing has finally matured to its final level – a level that allows the sponsor to “use the most emotional and personally relevant marketing media to improve your brand’s relationship with a target market and, more importantly, their relationship to your brand.”

I could not agree more.

Kim calls the new model of sponsorship, The Conduit. The Conduit is the stickiness that glues the sponsoring company to the sponsored event and to the target audience/market.

I like to use the term CONTEXT.  Context is the ability of the sponsor to provide incremental value to the audience of the event as the essential element of their sponsorship.

I am now advising corporations to only sponsor activities where they can bring a compelling added-value component to the targeted consumer in conjunction with the consumer’s participation with the event and, most importantly, get the credit by the consumer for bringing or enhancing the experience!

Context creates the big idea that adds magic to the consumer’s experience.

Several years ago we helped MasterCard exploit their sponsorship of the 1994 World Cup.  Many agencies had suggested to MasterCard that the only way to successfully leverage the sport of soccer in the United States was through youth soccer activities.  I strongly disagreed.  A young soccer player might ask Mom for a Coca-Cola or a trip to McDonald’s but would never ask Mom to go and use the MasterCard.

We instead focused on the economic impact of the first World Cup to be held in the United States and had MasterCard sponsor visitor enhancing activities that not only promoted their brand but also directly impacted the issuance and usage of their cards and other payment system products.  We coined the tagline “MasterCard:  Welcoming the World to America”, which really meant, “welcoming the world’s money to America.  And, we had plans to get a disproportionate share of that money via the use of a MasterCard card through each of our promotional programs.

Most importantly, the consumer “got it” and knew exactly why MasterCard affiliated with the World Cup.

Today, smart sponsors and even smarter properties are creating unique and proprietary context in building their activation programs.

Isn’t it time for you to do the same?

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