Concert Sponsors: Taking the stage

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The tight economy and slack demand for sponsorships is giving headaches to summer concert promoters, as marketers hesitate before inking deals.

"Marketers are being so careful with due diligence and strategy that opportunities sometimes slip away before they finish their research," said Joseph Bongiovi, VP-tour alliances for Clear Channel Entertainment, New York, one of the nation's largest entertainment companies and which has a near-monopoly on major summer-concert tour-sponsorship management.

But when marketers finally sign on the dotted line, they are committed. This year's sponsorships feature an unprecedented level of marketing tie-ins, making brands almost synonymous with the music or the artist's image.

"So many concert sponsorships in the past were about slapping your name on an event and borrowed interest, but we're creating a brand experience with music, and aligning with artists who specifically reflect a certain lifestyle," said Matt McKee, marketing director of Outside magazine, which has teamed with DaimlerChrysler's Jeep for a 23-city concert tour beginning July 10. The tour features Sheryl Crow, Train, O.A.R., and Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers. REI and Transworld Media are additional sponsors.

big deal

The event is the largest ever for Outside, the 675,00-circulation Santa Fe, N.M.-based magazine owned by Mariah Media. The event marks the magazine's 75th anniversary and includes an Adventure Village offering to concert-goers nine hours of free on-site activities, such as kayaking in a white water wave machine, rock climbing, skiing lessons and scuba diving in a 30-foot tank. More than 300,000 people are expected to attend the series of concerts, conceived by Outside and produced by Clear Channel.

For Jeep, a longtime backer of events like its annual Camp Jeep for owners, music is the key to reaching prospective new customers who will see its entire line of vehicles demonstrated on-site at the concert. "Sheryl Crow's music gives a voice to the Jeep brand's appeal as the authentic American hero," said a Jeep spokesman.

Bally Total Fitness has also forged a major marketing alliance with rock star Pink, first through a TV commercial last fall featuring footage of one of her music videos. Now Bally, in its first-ever concert sponsorship this year, is presenting sponsor of Pink's current tour.

Pink concert-goers get free temporary memberships for Bally's 400 clubs nationwide, plus exposure to Bally's signs, kiosks and fitness club information provided by Bally employees. At its clubs, Bally promotes its tour sponsorship and has integrated Pink's hit song "Get the Party Started" into its most popular current exercise class, called "Get Your Body Started."

"We've found a perfect lifestyle and emotional fit between our brand and Pink, and the concert sponsorship has given us tremendous opportunities for promotions, on national and local levels," said Jon Harris, VP-media development and communication for Chicago-based Bally.

Area2, one of the summer's hottest tickets featuring acts organized by musician Moby, will be the platform for introducing Cadbury Schweppes' Snapple Beverage Group's new Elements beverage to consumers, according to Clear Channel, which is coordinating sponsorships for Area2 and Pink.

on the road again

American Honda Motor Co. is repeating its sponsorship of a concert tour designed to promote its Civic model, this time featuring the band Incubus and demonstrating a car customized with the band's input at each of 50 tour stops. Consumers can enter a sweepstakes to win the customized Civic ci car at Marketingfactory, Venice, Calif., handles.

Clear Channel also handles Ozzfest, one of the nations' most popular tours headlined by Ozzy Osbourne, who rocketed to TV fame with this spring's hit show "The Osbournes" on Viacom's MTV.

"We've spent seven years developing this tour and in the beginning we couldn't get any sponsors, but now the phone is ringing off the hook," says Mr. Bongiovi. The presenting sponsor is Sony Computer Entertainment America's Playstation2; other sponsors include Hot Topic, Trojan, Tama/Ibanez, FYE and Jaegermeister.

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