5 Great Sponsorship Activation Ideas

About Lynda Carrier-Metz

Chief Marketing Officer at Restaurant Management Company Responsible for 135 Pizza Huts located in New Jersey, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana.

My experience with successful sponsorship activation has been lukewarm:  Like having one foot in a bucket of cold water and the other in boiling hot. Sometimes we hit it out of the park and other times, well, you get the idea.

Thankfully, I had the opportunity to ask my friends on the All-Star Sponsorship panel and discussion at the Baylor Sports Sponsorship & Sales (S3) annual board meeting what has worked well for them. Thanks to Travis Dillon (The Marketing Arm) for moderating the panel!

Activation Insights

1. Integrate the sponsor into the field of play. Matt Brand, Vice President of Partnerships, Houston Astros, explained, “When a hit ball strikes the ‘fowl (foul) poles’ everyone in the stands gets a FREE Chick-fil-A sandwich. This drives traffic and fan excitement!” Another similar example are the foul poles at the Padres’ Petco Park that look like TaylorMade golf drivers. You might even want to hang a Kia automobile over the center of the court like the Texas Legends.

2. Activate via single channels for impact. Greg Grissom, Vice President of Partnerships, Houston Texans: “We ran a promotion for Sonic through a single social media channel (e.g., Facebook) to drive traffic. Fans following the Texans’ Facebook were aware that if the Texans win on Sunday, Tuesday is “Free Slushy Day” at Sonic. The promotion drives secondary sales through increased traffic.”

I’ve found promotions tied to wins and high scores seems to help motivate the team to play better. So, maybe the teams should pay the sponsor for agreeing to do this!

3. Drive retail with the use of the team’s marks. George Killebrew, Vice President of Partnerships, Dallas Mavericks: “Connecting Dr Pepper, Budweiser or Gatorade to case sales in grocery stores to register to win tickets ties two brands together and drives purchases for both!” Using the team’s logo and likenesses always attracts attention in crowded retail spaces.

4. Leverage community support. Jeanne Garza, Director of Corporate Partnerships, San Antonio Spurs: “One of my favorite activation strategies is actually by Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut leveraged their media buys and the goal of giving back to the community. Each January when customers purchase a pizza a portion goes to support the Spurs Youth Basketball League. Both the team and Pizza Hut promote this and everyone wins!”

And we got one more good example from the floor from Steve Flynn.

5. Test-drive. Steve Flynn, Regional Marketing Manager, General Motors: “We integrate marketing and activation at the World Series, Texas State Fair, and other events to do one thing: Get people to take a seat in a Chevrolet and take a test-drive.” Having a singular activation focus that you know results in converting prospects into customers promises a good return on the investment.

Bonus Activation Idea

So, those five are pretty good. Here’s my favorite activation promotion we run at Pizza Hut.

Borrow and build fan passion. We create excitement and gain tremendous fan engagement with the Pizza Hut, “Delivery of the Game” for football and basketball. We deliver pizzas into the stands and the fans go crazy. It aligns with our delivery service and sampling our great pizza. The more that can be given to a variety of sections the better, not just students or the same section each game!

What other ideas do you have? Click the Twitter button below and let us know @BaylorS3, @PizzaHut, #activation.