Sponsorship is everywhere in sports, and, now, is almost as pervasive in entertainment – brands are flocking to partner with music industry events, film festivals, and more. Getting the rights to sponsor a particular event is only the first step, however – activation of that sponsorship, no matter what sector it’s in, is the key to a brand’s success. Whether you’re activating at a concert, game or otherwise, here are a few tips to keep in mind from this former activation specialist!

  1. Keep it relevant. This may sound obvious, but know your target market and know your audience. Make sure your brand’s messaging aligns with what you’re sponsoring, and the audience you’re trying to reach. Two brands with great partnership fits are Ford and Monster, both of which sponsor the rugged shows put on by Professional Bull Riders (PBR). PBR is one of the world’s fastest growing sports and entertainment properties, boasting more than 35 million fans globally. Between the danger and excitement of cowboys being flung in the air, blasting rap music, and Victoria’s Secret super models walking around, PBR as a property aligns perfectly with sponsors looking to deliver an action-packed message to younger, male audiences. Agrees Fobes Contributer Jason Beltzer, “PBR is gritty, exciting, and oozes sexiness – everything brands (especially ones targeting males) dream of in an activation platform.
  1. Avoid big bulky physical set-ups. Unless you are activating at a one-time event, having large set-ups can require a lot of time and man power. Keep it simple, especially if you’re activating throughout a long season, like MLB’s.
  1. Create an experience. Activation creates the most buzz when it’s unique. If you really want your brand’s message to break through, provide an experience that will be remembered. For example, Bud Light’s Super Bowl XLVIII commercial featured footage of a guy who said he was “up for whatever” and ended up with a night on the town including a ride in a stretch hummer, ping pong (or “tiny tennis”) with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and an on-stage appearance at a One Republic concert. It was a creative (and hilarious) approach centered around a once-in-a-lifetime experience (that received tons of media buzz).
  1. Integrate with in-game elements. If you’re able, tying your brand into elements already built into the game/event script is a no-brainer. It makes execution easy for both parties, and saves everyone from trying to reinvent the wheel.
  1. Promote your activation plan before hand. You could have the most awesome idea in the world at your event, but if you don’t promote it beforehand, it’s probably not going to reach its potential. Inform your audience to increase your chances of success (and attention).
  1. Stay creative, and always provide a call to action. If you’re activating online and wondering why your click-thrus are low, it might be time to change your content. Do something different to engage your audience – digital content should never become stagnant – but remember to always include a call to action.
  1. Less can be more. There are times when just sticking a logo on something works! If you’re activating with signage such as dasher boards, ribbon boards, a-frames or scoreboard signage, keep it simple. If you get too fancy/busy, your signage may become hard to read, pretty much defeating the purpose.
  1. Be selective in who you partner with. Make sure the brand(s) you select offer the right audiences, and activation opportunities, for you. Before committing to an aggressive sales pitch, ask yourself: does this partnership align with my brand?

Finally, once you’ve found the right partner and sketched out a comprehensive activation strategy, analyze your partnership on an ongoing basis. Make sure you’re reaching your objectives, and getting the most out of you sponsorship spend. To do this, you need data (and not just any data; data on the specific metrics that are key to your company’s success). Turnkey does work every day for partners on both sides of the aisle who want to make sure they’re building their relationships in a way that makes sense, and getting the returns necessary for both sides to succeed. Thankfully, this data-driven approach is non-negotiable. Given the massive sponsorship and activation spends in sports and entertainment, proof of success (beyond a gut feeling) is now perhaps the most important piece of the activation puzzle.