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Heather Fletcher Jan 27, 2016 11:13:00 PM 4 min read

Trying to Reach #Millennials? Use Sponsorship Marketing | SF AppWorks

It’s no secret that Millennials consume media much differently than their predecessors, but on-demand and online aren’t the only ways to get their attention. As music festival attendance goes up, so goes sponsorship marketing spend; last year marketers spent $1.34 billion on music venues, festivals and tours and $14.7 billion on sports sponsorships.


We dove deep into effective marketing practices for Millennials and found 3 BIG reasons why sponsorship marketing is the best option to form lasting bonds with these consumers.


1. Great Relationships Begin with Shared Interests.


The days of marketers telling consumers what to love are long gone. Now consumers tell marketers what they are interested in when they post, like, or comment about something. If your audience isn’t already talking to you in this way you might as well not exist. One of the quickest and most effective ways to build this type of relationship with the Millennial group is to target fans of sports teams or bands through sponsorship marketing.


Creating initial awareness by directly associating your brand with a team, concert, event, or sport they already know and love can help you reach your Millennial target quickly and in a less invasive way. Furthermore, leveraging an organic fit between the sponsor (that’s you) and the sponsoring entity allows the brand to express that connection to their audience in a more meaningful way through content creation and activation.


The best sponsorships allow both brands to gain increased visibility from each other and share access to their loyal fans. Symbiotic relationships, if you can find them, are mutually beneficial and thus usually long lasting. Take the Vans Warped Tour, for example. As title sponsor of the tour for 20 years, the Vans brand has become synonymous with the hip and fun image that the Tour projects.


But the tour also benefits from legions of loyal Vans wearers who associate the Warped Tour with Vans’ cool and casual style. This “authentic” connection with the tour has created a relationship with the fans that will last much longer than a :30 TV spot.

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2. Sponsorships Lead to AWESOME CONTENT.


The best part about event sponsorship packages as a part of your integrated marketing solutions, is they can be entertaining! By creating content that resonates with your audience, you draw them towards your brand by way of content channels. Let’s take a look at some sports marketing trends that Red Bull has perfected.


By slapping their logo on the helmet of an athlete who was about to do something amazing, they became included in that amazingness. Every time a teen’s eyes light up watching a video of Drew Bezanson doing backflips off of shipping containers, they unknowingly transfer some of that appreciation to Red Bull. It worked so well they they started creating their own eventscontests and a music academy and radio station to have more control over the content that their fans now crave. Red Bull Gives You Wings, so what do they do to show this to their fans? They create a contest that enables people to fly.

While you could go the Red Bull route and create your own events, it’s actually pretty timely and expensive, not to mention there is no guarantee the event will be successful at attracting fans. Identifying an already successful event, on the other hand, provides you with the perfect stage to introduce your brand to new fans. That’s exactly what Sprite did when it sponsored the NBA All Star Slam Dunk Contest, a fan favorite that produces great, rewatchable highlights that continue to perform on social media long after the event.

Sprite created a grassroots campaign to add life to their soft drink brand through basketball culture. The Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown contest is a national basketball challenge tour that leverages an association with the NBA to create loyal fans that love playing and watching basketball. They incorporate live event contests, online videos and other content of said contests culminating at the National Basketball Association’s annual All Star Slam Dunk contest.


3. You Can Sponsor a Charity, Which is a REALLY GOOD Marketing Strategy


According to the 2013 Cone Communications Social Impact Study, when companies support social and environmental issues, ordinarily leary Millennials respond with increased trust of 91% and loyalty of 89%. As a brand looking to get in on this love from the Millennials, you can start by sponsoring a charity organization that resonates with your audience or by selecting a larger partnership with an entity that has a built in charity component like NBA Teams and NBA Cares. But be careful – if the connection isn’t genuinely embodying your brand’s values, you could do more harm than good.


JP Morgan learned this the hard way when, in an effort to give free career advice to college students, they created the #ASKJPM hashtag. People could tweet in questions and an exec would answer. Unfortunately, the campaign ran when JP Morgan was facing fines and lawsuits for their participation in the 2008 Financial Crisis. After 2 hours and 6,000 responses like “Does the sleaze wash off with a regular shower, or do you have to use something special like babies tears? #AskJPM”, JP Morgan cancelled the campaign.


On the other hand, Kia Motors, as part of their sponsorship of the NBA Performance Awards (including the MVP Award), teamed up with NBA Cares to donate vehicles to the NBA player’s charity of choice.


It was a brilliant opportunity for Kia to market their cars in a ‘good for the world’ way while getting the full support of superstar athletes whom their target market adores.


We hope this excerpt from our latest EBook - Your Sponsorship Marketing to Millennials Guidebook has opened your eyes to the effectiveness of using sponsorship to reach your target. For the latest sponsorship marketing and sports marketing trends from us at SF AppWorks subscribe to our blog.