earning, planning, sponsoring

If you’re going to sponsor something, don’t hold back: lessons on commitment from Air New Zealand and the Rugby World Cup

featured image source

I was lucky enough to jump across to Auckland last week (for meetings, I wasn’t that lucky) where it wasn’t hard to notice that there was a small rugby competition in progress.  aside from the obvious signs – like Steve Rider standing at the bar or Lawrence Dallaglio’s MacBook popping up on my shared drives – it was impossible to avoid the advertising making us aware of various brands’ sponsorship of the event.  it fact it was harder to spot a poster that didn’t relate to the rugby world cup that to spot one that was.

all of which is well and good.  a host of brands have invested in attaching themselves to one of the best sporting competitions in the world, and quite rightly want to leverage that attachment and investment.  but here’s the rub.  the tyranny of clutter.  oh how it mitigates and compromises and diminishes the value of our collective investments.

the fact is that to effectively leverage any sponsorship now, you have to create a crucial step between the sponsorship and the advertising.  you have to create something that amplifies and justifies your connection, and talk about that.  telling people that you’re a sponsor with a nifty copy line simply doesn’t cut it any more.

no one understands nor activates that better than Air New Zealand.  of all the brands that fought for my attention with their rugby world cup efforts, none stood out or cut through more than Air New Zealand.  I wasn’t alone … the subject of what they had done to amplify their association came up more than once in conversation and not by me.

the above is the in-flight safety instruction video.  it’s not going to win any oscars but it doesn’t have to…  it demonstrates an absolute commitment to the cause and leverages the connection to the RWC through the most credible of symbols – the All Black players and coach themselves.  I see and lot of in-flight videos.  I watch very few.  I watched this one again online afterwards.

in addition an entire aircraft has been liveried in black to activate the sponsorship (see below) and the interior furnishings on the plane have been given an All Black makeover for the occasion.  the planning for this alone must have been years in the making – short term response planning its not.

some lessons:

dominate and disrupt your owned media  don’t hold back.  plan and think ahead about how you can radically disrupt the media you have at your disposal.  what can you create in-store or in branch?  what can you do to alter your web presence or DM or eDM mailings?  use your staff and people as part of the message – involve them in what you’re creating.  and bring what you’ve done to life through content so that you can…

allow word of mouth to do at least some of the amplification  yup use broadcast media to amplify your innovation but don’t over-rely on it.  socialise the content around what you’re doing and encourage sharing.  it doesn’t have to be amazing quality, just good enough.  more good content is better than just a little awesome content.  content is fleeting and disposable these days; invest accordingly people.

utilise credible symbols to leverage your investment  if you’re putting hard earned dollars into a sponsorship make sure you get more than badge-ing rights.  if you’re sponsoring a tournament get access to the home team.  if it’s a media association leverage journalists or on-air personalities and co-create content and platforms with them that communicate the relevance of your association.

create a return path for sales  create breadcrumbs back to retail or sales channels so that interest and saliency can be easily activated into return on investment. can you create a unique offer around your sponsorship?  how you create a path to sales by showcasing your goods or services?  once again, Air New Zealand’s YouTube channel is a lesson in how to do just that…

Air New Zealand YouTube

above all don’t think that telling people you or your client is a sponsor will be enough.  too much clutter.  too much noise.  too much convergence on the same message.  you’ll get lost.  or at best you’ll win a phyrric share of voice victory that cost you more than it returned.

will all this cost more?  you bet your sweet pretty ass it will.  you may need to do less overall and focus investment on fewer bigger better projects … but it’s more than worth it.  don’t hold back, if its good enough to sponsor its good enough to invest the time and energy in making the sponsorship count.

full declaration: Air New Zealand are a client of PHD Australia, where I work.  I’m breaking my first and most important rule of blogging by writing about a client, but it was just too good an effort not to comment on.

earning, measuring, owning, rewarding, social media-ising, social networking, tracking

Very Involved People: Why every brand know who they are, and have a Red Carpet ready and waiting for them

Vip-facebook-audi-kloutAudi and Klout (an online influence indexer) have created a page that gifts its special socialites with a free wallpaper

last week saw another step towards community and existing-customer-based comms planning becoming the predominant way through which brands can connect with audiences.  PSFK carried the story that Facebook is to launch VIP areas for brands.  the article notes that:

"Brands on Facebook are going to be able to reward loyal customers with VIP areas and rewards. The new and exclusive pages help brands find the people who influence others in their shopping habits and what they like. Once inside these filtered pages, users will gain access to prizes and be able to interact more directly with companies." PSFK post June 23

it's the next in a logical progression towards brands and marketers having significantly more one-on-one communications with their existing Very Involved People (or VIPs).  I posted in May about how a combination of owned then earned media was increasingly becoming the primary means through which some brands connect and engage audiences.  far from limiting the extent of a brands potential connections, it can create a far more meaningful and engaging dialogue with VIPs and then the wider circles that they in turn influence.

and all this is increasingly measurable.  Klout (the partner working with Audi to deliver the above example) is just one example of platforms that are increasingly able to measure who influences and is influenced by whom.  that brands will become fully-incorporated members of this dynamic is inevitable.

the watch-out … another increase in the power-base of Zuckerberg's already powerful platform.  whilst it makes sense for brands that can't deliver this through their owned media to lease some media real estate from facebook, the ideal is surely to have a red carpet of your own.  that way you build the community, own the platform on which the community is based, and aren't at the mercy of changes in the tenancy agreement if facebook decides to change it.

the questions for brands are clear: who are your VIPs, and where are you laying out a carpet for them?

brand extending, branding, campaigning, co-creating, community-building, connecting, earning, gaming, owning, praising, social media-ising, user-generating

Big Planning and Big Thinking: How Bendigo and Adelaide Bank use owned & earned media to deploy a little utility into the world

Got a big idea that you want to bring to life? Create a plan, share it and make it happen with help from the PlanBig community

so the lovely and awesome Zaac posted a link to my wall of the above effort from Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.  it's called PlanBig and, in it's own words, its…

"… a way for people to get together to make things happen and make a difference.  We [Bendigo and Adelaide Bank] believed that there was some real value in giving people the chance to come together in one place to talk about ideas, share inspiration, offer advice or help make things happen for themselves or someone else.  PlanBig brings together the experiences, knowledge and expertise of people with different skills from all walks of life and all ages to help each other get ideas kick started."

it's a delightful and instinctively attractive platform, which elegantly ticks a range of boxes including – amongst others – socialisation, co-creation, crowdsourcing and gamification.  it also has a elegant and seamless execution that connects with the Book and other social platforms…  the badges-as-reward effort has been borrowed from FourSquare, as has the Book's Like concept (in fact the functionality is a bit like a social network functionality greatest hits, which isn't a bad thing – better to use functionality with which we're familiar … makes it more, well, functional).

as the site observes, "Bendigo and Adelaide Bank feel so strongly about helping people realise their dreams, they’ve been doing it in local communities for over 150 years" … so this platform is just a natural extension of a brand proposition that's been in market for over a century.

it's also another example of the owned and earned media combo (note the absence of bought media) to create (1) utility (2) meaningful connections with a community of people and (3) content ripe for the amplification – if even a few of these ideas get big it will be marketing gold-dust.  all of which makes a great deal more sense to me than buying a shedload of ads telling people what competitive lending rates you have.

this genuinely feels like a brand / product extension with sociable and marketable assets built in from the ground up.  it's a communication for people, by people, and its infinitely better for it.  good on 'em.