Marketers Go for Squeeze Play, but the Basic Rules Still Count

Bank of America, Unilever Test Ways to Cut Costs of Sports Sponsorships, Advertising

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It doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's how you play the game. Baloney, say major marketers who are apparently tired of paying hefty sponsorship fees no matter if their teams win or lose.

"One thing we have learned is that avidity is so critical when it comes to how well a sponsorship works," said Ray Bednar, senior VP-global sponsorship executive at Bank of America, in a discussion with Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal. "So that's leading to great conversions with properties about the fact that winning matters for marketers, too. ... So if winning does matter, properties should be paid more when they win. Conversely, when they don't win, they should get paid less."

He said BofA has started inking variable compensation deals -- pay-for-performance models based not only on winning, but also on the property delivering business. "The bankers I have to go to for budget approval don't really care if we have a suite or a sign. They want to know how much money they're going to make."

Mr. Bednar also said the bank tells sponsorship properties that, for instance, it's going to put their brands inside 1,000 banking centers. "Then they will have X many impressions, which would cost them $2.5 million to buy, so we're going to factor that in as part of the sponsorship price."

Paul Bamundo, Subway senior brand manager, sports and strategic partnerships, added: "We've got 20,000 U.S. restaurants and 30,000 worldwide, so we keep telling people we are a media company for your brand, and there is starting to be some understanding of that."

Big marketers are putting the squeeze on suppliers across the board. Unilever is testing whether consumer-generated ads can be a long-term strategy for one of its brands. The great work its agency did for a popular meat snack has created a problem because their ads are so well-defined that consumers can come up with ideas that are just as creative.

Consumer-generated ads generated considerable angst at the University of Illinois' Sandage symposium. One attendee said, "If creativity is the only goal, consumers are going to win," meaning that professional talent is only needed to implement a brand's message and strategy over a sustained period.

Madelin Woods, a former student and now a web-graphic designer, told me she thinks consumer-generated material is "an issue that's at hand for any industry involving media. In advertising, consumer-generated ads may act as free promotion for brands.

"However, graphic designers are getting frustrated that their work is being undermined by your neighbor's cousin, who can pop out a logo for $5. Journalists are having to deal with the over-saturation of blogs. Photographers are competing with 'point-and-click' technology. ... While professionals have earned their way to the top, students are getting jobs and recognition for their 15 minutes of YouTube fame," she said.

"Perhaps it's just because I'm still young, but I don't view the consumer-generated age as a problem. It's not going away anytime soon, so we should accept it as a positive change."

Finally, Bill Kupper's comments on the power of salespeople gaining access to key clients drew a response from former McGraw-Hill salesman and publisher emeritus of CIO Magazine Gary Beach. Gary said that one of the key things McGraw-Hill drilled into its salespeople were seven steps to a sale: 1) establish contact with a prospect; 2) create awareness for your product/service; 3) arouse prospect interest ... "in those days a phone call or bingo card ... now, of course, the digital card." 4) build preference for your product/service over competitive offers; 5) make a specific proposal to do business; 6) close the deal; 7) keep the customer sold.

"These maxims are still very logical," said Gary, and the smartest marketers will in the future implement integrated-media campaigns leveraging print, online and face-to-face to implement their goals. "The glory days of B-to-B remain ahead of us!"

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