“And Now, a Word From Our Sponsor:”
The Value of Corporate Sponsorship in Live Entertainment
“Sponsorship is about putting your name and reputation on the line for someone else. It could be as simple as recommending someone for a new role, yet it's one of the most powerful cultural tools any organization has.” – Lynne Doughtie, US Chairman and CEO of KPMG
Only a few short decades ago radio and television audiences across the country knew well the seven words that complete the first half of this blog’s title.
From the late 1920s until the 1960s, sponsorship was the principle funding model for these two communication channels. At its core, sponsorship is a big word for support, or patronage. Support another brand, and in so doing, the sponsoring brand gains leverage. Done right and both parties win because it means establishing an experiential and emotional connection with two brands, inexorably linked.
In the early age of radio and TV, sponsorship was what paid for programming. Common endorsements focused on home products like toilet soap and Maxwell House coffee – items that stay-at-home moms would likely buy. By the 1980s, however, sponsorship matured and today is more commonly known as “corporate sponsorship.”
Today corporate sponsorship is big business to the tune of $30 billion a year and growing. The impact is most powerfully felt in sports, where stadiums and major sporting events have picked up sponsorship deals. Big names in corporate sponsorship include: the Capital One Orange Bowl, TED (talks) and its conference sponsor Rolex, the South by Southwest (SXSW) music and film festival and Ten-X, and Gatorade and Serena Williams.
Why Sponsorship Sells: Trust and the Personalized Approach
Next to sports, the music industry is second in line for experiencing the greatest impact from sponsorship. The connection is often obvious as major concerts and live entertainment events are held in sports arenas. From smaller venues like Albany, NY’s Times Union Center, to Miami’s American Airlines Arena, sponsorship means two things: more eyeballs (on your brand) and more profit (through increased product purchase due to the exposure.)
At its core sponsorship with any brand accomplishes several goals. According to the Cirlot Agency, a leading global brand strategy and public relations firm, it’s a marketing and customer engagement vehicle that achieves six key functions. They include:
- Exposure – Sponsorship is the best way for a brand to gain exposure. So if you’re a Miami music company, a record store, a hotel, a restaurant, or a lifestyle brand, for instance, partnering with live entertainment providers is the best way to get noticed.
- Media Coverage – As the sponsoring brand gains notoriety media will want to tell your story. Not only in terms of day-of-event breaking news, but in follow-up pieces that relate to you, your brand’s industry, and features on its leaders and up-and-comers.
- Corporate Hospitality – Sponsorship guarantees exclusive access to exclusive benefits in exchange for brand support.
- Product Showcase – This is where the idea of “captured audience” is most important. For most live entertainment events the typical guest stays 2-3 hours. That’s 180 minutes of possible brand engagement. Of course, it doesn’t mean all of a patron’s time will be spent with you. But it gives you multiple chances to spark conversation.
- B2B Relationships – Sponsoring with live entertainment leaders connects your brand with other business professionals. Consider it an additional perk of a “captured audience.”
- Emotional Connection – Last but by no means least, is the ability to establish an emotional connection with your key customers. Increasingly sponsorship goes hand in hand with good corporate citizenship. Demonstrate your commitment to environmental or other sustainable causes, or citizen empowerment and you’re likely to make a deeper, more authentic connection with your supporters – especially Millennials.
Lessons from Boise, Idaho and the Treefort Music Fest
It may surprise some readers that a lot can be learned about the value of sponsorship thanks to a story that came out of Boise, Idaho. Not long ago “The City of Trees” was an isolated Rocky Mountains town. At best it was the state capital known for potatoes. Locals knew it for its Jazz and theatres and independent music.
That began to change in 2012.
In that year promoters launched the inaugural Treefort Music Festival, a five-day event in the heart of downtown. After humble beginnings – Treefort didn’t turn a profit until 2015 – by 2018 the event attracted some 24,000 people, 7,000 from out of state. According to the Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau, the event generated $11 million.
Key to Treefort’s success was its focus on local sponsors who would be interested in promoting the city’s independent music scene, and also the experience itself. Over time Treefort’s sponsorship roster grew with the state’s tourism agency and Boise State University offering their financial support.
For all companies eager to sponsor another brand there are two critical questions:
1) How can your brand stand out from the crowd?
2) How can the brand in question offer something experiential, something unique, and something long lasting that generates a genuine emotional connection with the clients/customers you seek to attract?
It’s all About the Music – And the Mission
At Dry N Wet, our mission is to do just that – to create unmatched events and social gatherings, with a nod to upscale European-inspired sophistication so that partnering brands can feel unique. In an industry noted for creative expressionism and artistic talent, we are passionate about fostering this transformative co-sponsored experience.
So if you want to take your brand to next-level success and team up with one of the most innovative live entertainment leaders all it takes is contacting us by email or phone and we’ll get the conversation started.
Remember that in the end, to borrow from inspirational writer and blogger Israelmore Ayivor, sponsorship is all about becoming a better you.
With the right company working by your side, the next step in your brand’s success can begin today.