My Top 5 Sponsorship Campaigns
4th January, 2012
In the ever-busy world of brand marketing, using the strength of brand partnerships to forge new channels and platforms is essential to generating sales, showcasing the brand and in some cases uniting millions. Here are just five of my favourites:
1. Jay-Z & Bing – ‘Decoded’
With Jay-Z’s autobiography ‘Decoded’ due to be launched in November 2010, the rap mogul teamed up with Microsoft search-engine Bing to stir up some little needed hype.
Each of the book’s 320 pages was printed and placed in a different position across 13 major cities. Locations were selected based on the contents of each page – for example, a reference to Jay Z’s youth in Brooklyn could be placed on a Cadillac, a restaurant plate, a basketball net or even on the bottom of a swimming pool!
Utilising social media, clues were released via Facebook & Twitter revealing the location of the secret pages in a draw to compete to be the first to unlock each one of the 320 pages. Users were driven to Bing.com/Jay Z where they were directed to specific locations, while the first people on the scene texted a code to reveal the page to the whole community. Within a month of the campaign going live, users had unlocked every single page of the book before it was even available for sale.
Bing received an 11.7% increase of visitors while the campaign was live with an average player engagement of 11 minutes. Jay Z’s Facebook page received 1 million ‘likes’ in under a month and his autobiography reached 3rd in the New York Times Best Seller list.
The level of detail that went into turning every single page of Jay Z’s book into a real life installation was staggering, completely integrating and engaging the content of the book with readers. Unlike most interactive campaigns where the user’s interaction ends at the computer screen, ‘Decode’ actively encouraged the consumer to venture out into the world and sample Jay Z’s life in person. All sections of media were used, giving the individual a rich and unique understanding of Jay Z’s life that a purely internet-based campaign couldn’t have done. Through Jay Z, Bing created the biggest online game the world has even seen.
2. Ralph Lauren & The New York Times
In September 2011, Ralph Lauren bought out a one-month, solo sponsorship of the New York Times iPad application. The app takeover included online shopping, videos, a letter from Ralph Lauren, Ralph Lauren’s car collection, poems, details of how Ralph Lauren jewellery is made and the principles of the brand’s craftsmanship. An online shopping bag, built directly into the app’s adverts, allowed consumers to shop straight away, rather than having to click through to a website – essentially making it easier than ever to buy Ralph Lauren.
This partnership highlights the failure of countless companies to fully utilise what’s available to them when they form a brand relationship. Amongst the online shopping the reader is drawn to the beautiful imagery, the highly detailed information about the production of the clothes, and interesting little known facts about Ralph Lauren himself. At no stage do you ever feel as though you are being led down the path to purchase. It is always a gentle stroll, past a wonderfully crafted tweed suit, before you reach the checkout.
3. McDonald’s & 2008 Beijing Olympics – ‘Cheer For China’
With large sections of the Chinese population finding the Games remote and out-of-reach McDonald’s developed united sponsorship initiatives under the slogan “Cheer for China”, which allowed the nation to become part of the Chinese Olympic dream. In-store cheering stations, viral videos, interactive/click through banners and celebrity blog partnerships were just some of the ways that the ‘everyman’ was encouraged to participate in this episode of people power.
Through the cheering stations and online entries, the 10 best cheerers were chosen to take part in ‘The Cheer For China Online Reality Show’ that attracted over 7 million unique visitors to its website. To conclude the show, the 10 best cheerers were whittled down to 5 winners who led 1,200 people at the Olympic Stadium to set a new Guinness World Record. Throughout the campaign the Cheer For China website had over 25 million unique visitors and 1.2 million cheering entries.
This campaign illustrates how a well-thought out and flawlessly executed brand partnership can quite literally change a nation. Faced with Olympic indifference millions of people, from Guangzhou to Changchun, were instilled with the Olympic spirit – no mean feat for an American fast-food chain.
The multi-pronged approach of the campaign also ensured that it didn’t fizzle out – once all the cheering entries were in, a fly on the wall documentary emerged, which preceded winners dancing in the Olympic stadium setting a new world record. Continuity was key and ensured that the entire nation not only cheered for China, but continued to do so long after the Games were finished.
4. The National Theatre & Phillips ‘Sense and Simplicity’
In 2007 The National Theatre teamed up with Phillips to help reduce the amount of electricity that the Southbank location used. This partnership saw Phillips replace and enhance the National Theatre’s internal lighting system with state of the art, energy-efficient design costing approximately £500,000. In addition to the immediate visual improvements in the theatre, the long term aims were to reduce the amount of energy of lighting up the iconic ‘fly towers’ by 70%, which in turn will save £100,000 a year.
While this campaign may not have everyone marvelling at its ingenuity, the simplicity allowed consumers to fully engage with the campaign and helped both organisations achieve more together. The National Theatre was able to produce more productions and Phillips utilised a highly targeted audience platform to showcase their exceptionally high-quality lighting. In addition, a substantial amount of energy will have been saved by the end of the 5 year deal, paving the way for other heavily lit buildings in the city to focus on their own energy consumption.
5. Emirates Airline & Transport For London
With Transport for London’s state-of-the-art cable car more than doubling its budget in a year (from £25 – £60 million), Fly Emirates intervened in what was one of the shrewdest sponsorship moves of 2011.
The 10-year deal costing Emirates £36 million provides the Dubai based airline naming rights on what is bound to be one of the focal points for the London Olympics. It will be the first urban cable car of its kind in the UK, connecting Greenwich Peninsular over the river with the Royal Docks. The new system could provide a crossing every 30 seconds carrying up to 2,500 passengers per hour in each direction, equivalent to the capacity of 50 buses. Users will be able to pay with oyster cards, as they travel at a minimum height of 52m over the Thames.
With the travel concerns high amongst visitors as well as residents, the Emirates Cable Car will not only be highly publicised, but also one of the few central transportation links. In addition, it will remain a prominent part of the capital’s skyline for decades. Greenwich has a constant stream of tourists, throughout the year, who will all want to take a ride and witness the panoramic views that the cable car offers. As a result, Emirates’ brand will be directly showcased to a large portion of the 30 million international visitors the capital attracts annually long after the London Olympics have left.