Archive for the ‘sponsorships’ Category

One Week Fantasy Sports: Ad Blitz Now, PR Issues Later?

Monday, September 21st, 2015

football-moneyIf you even casually watch or follow sports, especially America’s most popular TV sports, football, there is no doubt you have felt saturated by TV commercials, radio host endorsements, web banners and social media ads for two websites competing in a new gaming platform called “one week fantasy sports.”

Fans and journalists alike are taking to social media to voice opinions about being inundated with ads for Fan Duel and Draft Kings. Without the backing of PAC money weeks before an election, it’s hard to imagine more frequency for any other ad barrage.

Some reports estimate the total ad spend in recent weeks at nearly $30 million. But it sure seems like more than that, especially when you factor in the local in-stadium advertising that is new for this football season. There’s no doubt that level of attention has piqued fan curiosity and led to sign-ups and sampling. These two sites and their fledging business models are now part of the consciousness of their target audiences. But at what price?

These two companies must now be prepared to be in the PR crosshairs. They need to be ready for for a flurry negative media attention, as fans inevitably lose money via those sites. They need to be ready to be attacked by politicians, as the companies toe the line between gambling and entertainment. They must be prepared to deal with direct complaints via social media in a timely and professional manner.

There’s no doubt they have their talking points ready to go in their defense. But is there anything they have planned to be proactive? One of them could start poking a little good natured fun at themselves and join the chorus talking about the sheer volume of ads to avoid being cast quickly a “big, bad” image. Or one could follow the lead of casinos, which have largely rid themselves of stigma in the last generation by aggressively positioning themselves as good corporate citizens. Or will one of them start using PR tools to highlight their winners in their local markets?

From a PR standpoint, buying the quantity of advertising is the equivalent of placing a gigantic target on the back of your company in the battle for attention. While their efforts have so far been driven by marketing tactics, PR needs to have the proverbial “seat at the table” in order for these companies to grow successful businesses.

Nike to Armstrong: No You Didn’t (Do It)

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

The Tanner Friedman blog is wonderful outlet for Matt and I to express our opinions and we are forever grateful to anyone that takes the time to read and, quite often, share their thoughts. This forum is also ideal for showcasing timely stories by top journalists working in our industry, including a new piece by Mae Anderson of the Associated Press on celebrity endorsers and Nike becoming the first company to drop Lance Armstrong in the wake of his doping controversy.

After all, why drop Armstrong while standing behind others, including Tiger Woods, for various transgressions? The answer, posits Anderson who spoke with numerous marketers for her piece, would seem to be the fact that the cyclist’s alleged actions related directly to his sport and performance therein, perhaps over a period of time as long as two decades.

In all fairness to Nike, they have dropped athletes in the past for behavior or remarks that must have constituted contractual morals clauses. Michael Vick is perhaps the most prominent in this group although he was resigned by Nike last year. For other companies, transition after transgression has not always gone as smoothly. Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall is currently suing apparel and underwear company Hanesbrands after he was ‘cut’ for making controversial comments regarding the death of Osama Bin Laden and 911. Mendenhall is suing for $1 million and breach of contract/wrongful termination.

As for Nike and Armstrong, another marketer, Atlanta-based consultant Laura Reis puts it very well in the AP piece: “Nike is about ‘just doing it’ and that doesn’t mean drugs. It means hard work and ethics – and this flew in the face of it.” In the realm of adversity management, we typically recommend one of two approaches: If you did it, admit it; explain yourself, show remorse and reassure it won’t happen again (Vick, Woods). If, on the other hand, you didn’t, then fight it and work toward vindication (Roger Clemens). In this case, Armstrong says he didn’t do it but, apparently, has chosen to accept the ramifications. It simply doesn’t add up.

Dr. Dre Goes For Olympic Gold

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

Despite stepped up rules by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to protect official sponsorships for the 2012 games in London from “ambush marketing”, one product is being seen (if not heard) often by spectators and athletes alike. Beat headphones have been appearing on Olympians from a number of countries, provided free by entrepreneur Dr. Dre. This week, the committee ruled that the product placement did not breach sponsorship guidelines as athletes sporting the high-end audio devises were not endorsing them.

Still, sponsor rules are significantly stricter than ever for 2012 as the IOC looks to protect the investments of the 11 international companies that pay approximately $100 million each for four years of rights to sponsor the Olympics globally. Anything, from words such as “Olympian” and “Games” to visuals, including the Olympic rings and other official logos and symbols, are strictly prohibited with flagrant violations enforced. This includes broadcast advertising, billboards and signage within Olympic event zones and social media – from posts to conversations.

Limits have certainly been pushed in the past, including in 1984 in Los Angeles where Fujifilm’s official sponsorship was usurped by rival Kodak’s sponsoring the TV broadcasts of the U.S. track team. Today, Fuji would be afforded first right of refusal for on-air coverage. Similarly, in 1992 in Barcelona, with Adidas the official Olympic clothing sponsor, Nike underwrote Michael Jordan and the U.S. basketball team. During the medal ceremony, Jordan covered up the Adidas logo with the American flag. This would not fly today.

Thus, it would seem, Dr. Dre is just the latest in a long line of brilliant marketers with moxie who are unafraid to test the waters and toe the line. And, while the IOC is sure to continue to tighten the rules and eliminate loop holes, for now it appears that guerilla advertising approaches are more likely to meet with the thrill of victory than the agony of defeat.

2008 Woodward Dream Cruise Logo Was Emblematic, Symbolic

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

In just a few short days the annual rite of August, the Woodward Dream Cruise, will motor its way through nine host communities to the tune of 40,000 classic cars and a million people. Though Tanner Friedman chose, subsequent to the 2008 Cruise, not to continue as the Executive Director team, we are rooting for its success and remain in regular contact with its leadership, who remain our friends.

This morning, I read a Detroit Free Press Q&A with a longtime Cruise Board member whom I respect greatly. However, following on the heels of another story in which last year’s Dream Cruise logo was referred to as “too stylized,” today’s story also seems to write off the ’08 moniker, saying: “We’re back to a really cool logo (for 2009)”).

Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion and, where art and design are involved, taste in emblems and logos is incredibly subjective. That said, last year’s logo, for better or for worse, was monumental—the first time an actual automotive designer had been commissioned for the artwork. It came with rave media reviews, in particular within the national automotive community (hit link to read a story from the influential Autoblog.com); key to helping us “extend” the Dream Cruise brand to potential sponsors outside of economically cash-strapped (even then) Detroit. Champion (STP) and Turtle Wax would later come aboard, helping to underwrite the event’s annual six-figure tab. 

A prominent graphic design/branding firm also weighed in on the “what’s and why’s” at that time (link here) with a similar take.  The new logo was emblematic of the overall evolution of the event last year.  Did we sell more merchandise than in ’07?  Numbers were comparable if not down slightly in a down economy. Still, we had the town talking and paying attention.

The Dream Cruise will always happen, regardless of logos or sponsor participation. Yet, take it from someone who has led three—all are interlinked and key to the success of the other. Brand awareness and extension lead to event underwriting; in turn assisting cash-strapped municipalities pay for the event while ensuring the Cruise remains free for its participants.

MotorCity Casino Hotel Continues to ‘Rev’ Woodward Dream Cruise

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

I was quite pleased to read today that MotorCity Casino Hotel has become the official presenting sponsor of the Woodward Dream Cruise. It is actually something I, in my role as Executive Director, and my team, approached the casino to discuss over two years ago.

If people only knew the behind-the-scenes work, dedication and dollars MCCH puts into the Cruise (including Rhonda Cohen and Paul Lochirco), they would be astonished. They have remained dedicated to both underwriting and keeping it fun year after year after year. They deserve this and the thanks of everyone that enjoys the Cruise each year.

The “stepping up” of MotorCity Casino could not have come at a better time. Sponsorship dollars remain incredibly tight and, as you may have read in recent days, Cruise cities are not always in agreement as to how to operate the event in a mutually equitable and agreeable manner.

More power to Executive Director Tony Michaels, his team and those on the Board who remain selflessly dedicated to the greater good. We’re rootin’ for you. And, MCCH: You’ve really always been the presenting sponsor. Glad to see it’s official.

A Trade(ing) Post

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Matt and I are often sought out by PR students and others new to the industry on topics such as running a firm and overall ethics. I was recently asked how our organization handles client trade; in other words, in-kind compensation.

While such an arrangement can be worked out many different ways, at Tanner Friedman, we always make sure “trade” goes to benefit the “greater good”—in other words, the entire agency and all that work within it.

For a non-profit organization holding an event, for example, we tend towards a model where we are compensated in dollars for a portion of the work and then “in kind” dollars are leveraged in high-profile ways, such as logos on an invitation, event signage and/or program ads that promote the firm.

On the other end of the spectrum, some firm principals might instead earmark airline miles or restaurant trade only for their use or their family members. It does happen. However, I would argue that, instead, this trade should be provided to top performers throughout the agency as extra perks, incentives and bonuses.

After all, in building morale and a team approach, “all for one and one for all” can ring quite hollow when only one or two are enjoying the fruits from the labor of many.

It’s Not (Rocket) Science, Media Can Still Have Positive Impact

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

Ask anyone who follows media and they will tell you the same thing – too many “local” outlets are really only interested in selling commercials and delivering a profit to their big corporation ownership.  Of course, that will be at least the underlying business reality of any operation.  

But, as part of the Tanner Friedman blog’s mission to point out the best in both traditional and emerging media, it’s time to point out one outlet that understands and embraces its potential to positively impact the community it covers, while fulfilling its business objectives. 

I spent the past several days in Minneapolis and St. Paul as one of our clients was involved with a TV station-driven effort to interest girls in science careers.  This event was far more than those you see when a TV station lends its logo and some airtime.  This was an event actually conceived and executed by the Fox-owned station, KMSP-TV, with the help of community partners and sponsors.  

We face tough times as a nation.  To remain competitive, we need more of our best and brightest working in the sciences, including girls who have traditionally not been encouraged to enter those fields.  Fox 9 understands that.  So, 6 years ago, they had the foresight to create their “Girls & Science” event – a fun way to interest 4th through 8th grade girls in science.

The event, held for the first time this year at the impressive Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul, features interactive, hands-on experiences for girls to try science and interact with women working in science fields.  Our client had two scientists there, of different generations, to let girls sample some experiments and talk about possible careers.  For four hours, a steady stream of Minnesota families came through the exhibits, having fun, learning and making a difference in the lives of their daughters.

For the TV station, it was a community service/promotions/news/sales combined effort.  It took a lot more work than “just selling spots.”  For the community, though, it was a TV station (“old media”) taking a new approach to meeting a need.  For our client, it was a chance not only to extend a brand and tell a story.  It was a chance to touch lives – far outside of the corporate environment.  These are the communications initiatives to applaud, but also to support, as they create indelible impressions.

Hannah Montana Draws Blood For A Good Cause

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

It is not a stretch to say that many parents would give their respective right arms for Hannah Montana concert tickets for their children—to say nothing of extending their arms and donating a little blood.

In a stroke of multi-platform promotional genius, the American Red Cross has teamed nationally with Club Libby Lu and locally with WDIV-TV Channel 4 for a 2-week blood drive with participants eligible for free Hannah Montana concert tickets (right now the biggest show on earth).

The promotion cannot help but speak to young parents on multiple fronts—including duty to fellow man and to their own Disney Channel watching spawn.

Good for Miley Cyrus and her handlers and kudos to whomever at the Red Cross scored this coup. With Cyrus’ record and concert sales the hottest things going, her involvement with this promotion is sure to give both the American Red Cross and a national blood supply that is always lacking a tangible and much needed “shot in the arm.”

Taco Bell Promotion Steals The Show

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

On the Tanner Friedman blog, we like to point out communications programs that work. Here’s one – and it might be more cost effective than you think.

Taco Bell is offering a free taco to “America” if any player steals a base in any game in the World Series. They are advertising this on TV and online (and probably via other platforms also). People are talking about it – wondering how the chain could possibly deliver on that promotion.

Leave it to CNBC’s great sports business reporter Darren Rovell to crunch the numbers. Here’s his blog posting. He predicts that Taco Bell will give away only about $4000 worth of tacos, nationwide.
Talk about promotional value!

The “Little” Event That Wood(ward) Be King

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Did you know that the Woodward Dream Cruise—held the third Saturday in August each year—is the largest, one-day automotive event in the world? Apparently Madison Avenue, by and large the base of the PR firms and ad agencies that make event and sponsorship decisions for their major corporate clients, does not.

This was brought home once again by reporter Catherine Jun’s article this week in the Detroit News.

I experienced this disconnect loud and clear last November as I attended the SEMA aftermarket convention in November, while still serving as the event’s Executive Director. Two individuals, in town from New York, handling communications for the show for Michelin Tires, admitted, when asked, that they had never even heard of the Cruise.

It’s a shame—and not for lack of effort on behalf of event organizers. My team and I worked national and international media hard to spread the word on this special event to New York, LA and across the globe. Those efforts continue on a number of levels.

There is hope for the future. Earlier this year, Advertising Age (read by those Big Apple creative types!) named the Woodward Dream Cruise to their list of outstanding event sponsorship opportunities. Hey, 1.1 million people and 40,000 classic cars don’t lie and make a lot of noise. On Woodward Avenue’s 200th anniversary, wouldn’t it be fantastic if someone (read: major corporate sponsor) actually listened.