Bicycle tires Case
You have been approached by brand who is also active in the production, marketing and sales of bicycle tires, similar to Continental. They are impressed by the originality of the Continental Heroes Cycling Tour concept and would like to create something similar but not a total copy of what Continental has done. What would you advise?
i. Which sport(s) would you consider to engage with both existing and new customers for bicycle tires?
ii. Which elements of the Continental Heroes Cycling Tour concept do you think are transferable to a concept for your client? Pick three items and explain why.
iii. Your client is active in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. How could you ensure that the concept will work effectively in all markets?
iv. If there is one aspect of the Continental Heroes Cycling Tour concept you think is weaker and could be improved for your client, what would that be? Explain.
v. What are the potential risks associated with this concept from a sponsorship perspective and how could you manage or reduce these risks? Name two and explain.
Guidance to answering Activity
When developing concepts for sponsorship activation for a brand (sponsor) there is a tendency to start with an ‘idea’. Perhaps you will have an idea which is creative and different to other activation ideas that have not been used by this particular brand or partner (i.e. football club or cycling team). This does not always lead to the best fit ot address the marketing or business objectives of the sponsor.
When assessing the suitability and strength of concepts for sponsors, there are a number of important steps to consider:
1 Key Insights
Can you identify a specific challenge or issue faced by the sponsor which could be addressed by this activation concept?
For example, the 18 to 24-year age group might not consider Audi to be a brand for them because it is too premium or elitist. We all know that Audi does make luxury and expensive cars but they also have smaller and lower priced cars that might be suitable for the younger market who have a smaller budget to spend.
Once you have a specific insight about a challenge or issue (hopefully confirmed by desk research) then you can start to think about the type of concept you will develop.
Attitudes of consumers or football fans in the 18 to 24 age group are very different to those in the older age groups and therefore you need to consider their interests and tastes. Research, data and customer segmentation can also assist in profiling age groups to establish their interests and what differentiates them from other groups. Audi makes cars which tend to be quite powerful and can drive very fast. Whilst this might appeal to some consumers, the 18 to 24 age group might be more conscious about safety and the carbon footprint. If this is the case, developing an activation concept around ‘speed and performance’ may not resonate with this age group.
2 Use models or theories to support your strategic thinking
The sport business in general and sponsorship sector does not have a lot of scientific formula or theories when it comes to developing a concept, unlike some other industries which have more regulations.
However, it is possible to use the principles of marketing to guide your strategic thinking. If you simply develop a concept or idea without using any models or principles, it is unlikely you will explore new territory. Everyone is familiar with the’4 P’s’ marketing model which some people may consider to be outdated. When applied in modern fashion, the ‘4 P’s’ are still relevant to marketing, sponsoring and activation. The same can be said of Kapferer’s Prism for brand identity.
When we talk about ‘brand activation’ there are three different phases:
– Actions: appealing to the 5 senses, personal contacts and experiences, and multi-channel storytelling that general involves the products and services
– Actor: being perceived as more than a supplier but as a key actor in the field, promoting or introducing new innovations
– Activism: stimulate category debates, innovate culturally and change the dynamics of the market place or consumers attitudes
All three of the above could also apply to a sponsor’s activation concept.
If we go back to the example of the 18 to 24-year age group, does the sponsor simply want to appeal to the senses of the consumer or football fans? Or would they like to engage with this group on a higher level and allow them to play a role in sharing their views and experiences about the role of cars in today’s society?
In the Marketing Funnel, awareness and consideration are only the first steps engaging with a potential customer. To achieve preference, purchase and loyalty a brand must be a lot more open and willing to allow the consumer to experiment, speak their mind and make their own choices.
So, what models or marketing principle can you apply to develop the framework of your activation concept that not only helps to showcase the sponsor’s brand but also create a deeper meaning or relationship with the fans or supporters of the football club?
3 Originality, creativity and sustainability
When developing a concept or campaign for a sponsor activation, most people tend to make the most obvious connections. For example, the sponsor is a premium car brand so speed or luxury are selected as factors that define the concept.
If you take a closer look at the organisation, the mission statement and corporate values you might get a slightly different picture of who they are and what they stand for. Of course, they would like to sell their products (cars or bicycle tires) but there many competitors in the market place. Creativity alone will not achieve the impact or market penetration. It has to be a combination or original thinking which reflects the DNA of the sponsor with a blend of creativity.
Also important is sustainability. Too many brands ‘pop up’ once in a while and expect to engage in a dialogue with consumers or fans after being quiet for several months. This is one of the advantages of sponsoring, the sponsor can enter a dialogue with fans all year round. When you know a sponsor and football club or cycling team will be partners for four years, it is important to think about how to sustain an ongoing relationship. When a sponsor just appears once a year or season for a few weeks, you need to invest a lot of resources to re-engage with the fanbase.
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