Already a $190 billion business, the events and promotions sector is acting like a reborn marketing tool-from Big Four TV network promotion link-ups with giant brand marketers like Kellogg's, Chrysler and Miller beer, to event sponsorships as diverse as collegiate women's volleyball, the first annual Black Expo Nashville or the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame (and so what if a few go down like that America's Cup ship). And, of course, there's the tidal wave of 1996 Summer Olympics promotional marketing, with Coca-Cola Co. and General Motors leading the way.
Not only is all this big bucks, but it is also refreshingly human: face-to-face, person-to-person stuff that doesn't rely on high technology. Events bring together real people, not virtual people. They're idea-driven, not tech-driven. Whether the events sponsored are national or local, the marketing effort supports people at play, people cutting loose and enjoying themselves. What better time for marketers to subtly-and often not so subtly-get their message across to consumers than when they are at play, or watching others at play?
Not, in this Age of Integrated Marketing, that we're recommending putting all of the marketing budget behind sponsoring events and promotions. But, just as undeniably, events and promotions marketing is booming and it clearly is here to stay. It deserves every marketer's full attention.