The sport-utility vehicle will be title sponsor of the Chevy Tahoe Arctic Open, a four-day outdoor extravaganza now owned by Times Mirror Magazines. The publisher acquired the Arctic Open, staged annually during the summer solstice when the sun shines in the Icelandic sky 24 hours a day, as part of an effort to create events attractive to advertisers in its outdoors-oriented magazines.
But Tahoe doesn't get just a golf competition at the northernmost course in the world. A variety of other activities are planned around the Arctic Open, including hunting, fishing, rafting, whale watching, glacier skiing, hiking and mountain biking. With the sun out all day and night, participants will have unlimited opportunity to participate.
`GO WHERE THEY'RE NOWHERE'
"People who buy the Tahoe do just that -- they want to go to where they're nowhere near anything, and they like to do all kinds of outdoor activities," said Dan Ahearn, assistant brand manager for Chevrolet's Tahoe, which is advertising its participation online (chevrolet.
com) and in print ads created by Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich.
The only other sponsor for the Arctic Open, slated for June 21-24 in Akureyri, Iceland, is Iceland Air.
The Arctic Open had been staged for 12 years on a small scale, attracting about 250 golfers annually, including many from the U.K. But under Times Mirror, the event is expected to draw more than 500 participants.
The Arctic Open also will be the focus of a sweepstakes for the Tahoe; 12 free trips to the event will be awarded to winners. The sweepstakes will be promoted online (arcticopen.com), and linked to Chevrolet and related Times Mirror Magazines Web sites.
For Times Mirror, the event is an example of its mission to develop more events designed to help advertisers promote their products and brands with assistance from the publisher in integrated marketing programs.
As one of the leading publishers of magazines targeting men -- with titles including Field & Stream, Golf Magazine, Outdoor Life, Ski and Skiing -- Times Mirror Magazines plans to have a growing presence in owning and operating outdoor events, said President Jason E. Klein.
"There are more of these events out there, and we want to discover them, lay claim to properties that our advertisers can have a big stake in," Mr. Klein said.
CHEVY JUMPED AT IDEA
The Arctic Open was identified as a marketing opportunity by Bruce Revman, Times Mirror's director of corporate sales, who had been aware of the event for several years and saw its potential as a vehicle for the right sponsor.
"When we presented the event to Chevrolet, they jumped on this, realizing this was an event that couldn't be duplicated by anyone else," Mr. Revman said.
Increasingly, Times Mirror said, advertisers are asking for ad programs completely distinct from competitors' and they're turning to publishers to create turnkey programs that often include events.
"The mission of our corporate sales area is to function like a mini-agency on behalf of our clients, helping them navigate through sponsorship opportunities and properties, looking for tie-ins to events, TV and online," Mr. Klein said.
Times Mirror's other goal, of course, is to increase incremental buys from advertisers while boosting revenue from owning and managing events. The General Motors Corp. SUV is running eight pages of Arctic Open-theme advertising in Field & Stream, Golf Magazine, Outdoor Explorer and Ski.
Finding the balance between operating events that are profitable while offering advertisers value-added deals is complex, Mr. Klein said, but Times Mirror is steadily increasing its involvement with activities that now include the JAL Big Apple Classic golf tournament this summer plus several other events associated with golf, sailing and skiing, including trade shows.
"The event marketing solution has to be precisely on target for the sponsor for it to work, and those are not easy to find," Mr. Klein said.
LEVERAGING MEN'S MAGAZINES
In addition, Times Mirror is seeking events that maximize the involvement of its men's magazine titles, creating more efficiencies and opportunities for sponsors.
"Not every event caters to every title we have, but the goal for us is to leverage our various titles in such a way that it's a plus for advertisers," Mr. Klein said. "When you add an event to a print buy, the impact is big. In this environment of media clutter, consumers need to see a message not only frequently but in multiple media forms, and combining events with print buys gives us a real edge."
Golfers and outdoors enthusiasts from 25 to 50, predominantly men, are expected to join in the Arctic Open, but Times Mirror acknowledged the trip targets upscale travelers, with costs ranging from $2,100 to $3,200 for the trip, including air fare and lodging.
"It's not cheap," Mr. Revman admitted, "but people who buy the Chevy Tahoe are in their mid-30s and they tend to have some disposable income and the desire to take the road less traveled, so for these guys it's not out of their range."