Sponsor Content Above the Clutter with Pete Krainik
Episode Seven: Man And Machine
Brought to you by: IBM
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Leverage Agency owns Sponsor Pitch. It is, in fact, independently owned.
NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- If the web's Long Tail can unite a Dokken fan with a tattered 1983 set list, why can't it provide a local sponsor for a hair-metal-tribute-band tour?
A new web platform called Sponsor Pitch aims to make the process of linking brands with properties open, easy and cheap enough to accommodate partnerships of every size, so everyone from Dokken to doppelgangers such as Rokken can find funding.
Music sponsorships make up a large but not overwhelming proportion of the opportunities available through Sponsor Pitch, which is in closed beta and set for public release in the first quarter of 2009. Founder Kris Mathis said by the official launch he hopes to feature an assortment of properties that extend far beyond music.
"We wanted to bring together opportunities that span across genres," said the former sponsorship consultant for Edelman. "As a marketer, you don't care whether an opportunity is in sports, music or fashion, as long as it matches your criteria."
'As few hurdles as possible'
There are few limits to participation. Sponsor Pitch collects no fees for use, which creates opportunities for small of sponsors and properties that may have been priced out of other services for managing and finding sponsorships. Mr. Mathis said the site will generate revenue through ads, premium services and customized pitch platforms.
"What I wanted to see was a true representation of all opportunities out there," Mr. Mathis said. "The best way to do that is to create as few hurdles as possible and focus on helping parties meet."
The idea is that, instead of waiting for and evaluating pitches, marketers and property owners can seek out and engage one other directly. The platform does not handle the transactions, nor does it serve any role in negotiating contracts.
Lure of direct access
For Adrian Santos, founder and owner of Revolt Marketing, who represents brands including Scion, the lure of direct access to decision makers is enticing. His agency lines up sponsors and properties looking to tap into the 18-to-25-year-old hipster crowd for live events, and he's in Sponsor Pitch's beta-test group.
"There's a whole sea of companies that don't know I exist, and trying to find them is a big hurdle," he says. "Anything to make that connection closer and faster, I want to know about it."
Mr. Santos said he makes most of his connections through traditional means such as trade shows, cold calls and e-mail. And while he said those methods of lining up sponsors will dominate his work for the foreseeable future, they frequently return more agency players like him than sponsors willing to spend money.
Tough to get through
Zach Bruce, who works at C3 Presents lining up sponsors for festivals such as Lollapalooza, said finding and getting through to big brands is a challenge even with properties as large as his are.
"It would be nice to have a database with all the agencies and brands that are looking to do events, and then we could pull from that list," he said. "The relationship part of the industry is huge. Brand campaigns are trying to align bands with cool brands, and it's tough trying to find those avenues."
Although companies like his are hardly short on offers from brands, Mr. Bruce, who hasn't signed up for the beta test, said he recognizes the inherent difficulty smaller players have initiating conversations. "Cold e-mails and cold calls are so unresponsive," he said. There should be some database to connect. If there's no name recognition, it's virtually impossible."
According to IEG, live-music sponsorships, unlike record sales, are growing and expected to top $1.04 billion this year. Sponsor Pitch provides a new way for musicians to compete for that money, with features such geo-targeting, which could allow them to find mom-and-pop sponsors for every leg of a tour. What's more, Mr. Mathis said, the platform isn't restricted to live events; because it's so loosely organized, other sorts of music-brand deals could be created through the site.
"We wanted to create something flexible enough to accommodate new opportunities, like blogs about music, social applications for music and events to online music distribution," he said. "We're not trying to predict the future but provide a resource that can accommodate it."