Saturday, September 29th, 2007...7:34 pm

Sports Sponsorship Symposium

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Last week I attended the Relay Sports Sponsorship Symposium at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel. I was hoping to interact with brand marketers and get a peak inside their minds for a bit. Sometimes, dealing with marketers, usually through advertising sales, things can boil down to the nitty gritty and you lose track of the big picture. Agencies, sales people and other intermediaries cloud the strategy and goals of the brand. It’s good to hear the pure message. Thankfully, this conference provided just that with solid presentations and interesting panels.

It’s interesting to learn about the different reasons why brands advertise in sports. The answers might be obvious for endemic companies like Nike, Under Armour and Gatorade. But sports also attracts lifestyle brands such as John Paul Mitchell, DeWalt, Campbell’s Soup and Hilton Hotels. Campbell’s popular “Mom’s” Football campaign works perfectly because their target is an “Everybody Loves Raymond” meets Sportscenter crowd with NFL sized hunger who love hearty and wholesome homemade soup. (If you believe that I have some Turkey Pot Pie in a can to sell you.) DeWalt develops an aspirational message for the many immigrants and day workers who use their tools for construction. They believe sports, specifically soccer, is a natural way to connect with a popular passion of the Hispanic community.

The overarching theme of marketers was their faith and belief in their product. Rohan Oza, Senior VP, at Glaceau gave an entertaining presentation on how VitaminWater was able to capitalize on celebrity partnerships but believes all of the brand’s marketing success is traced directly back to the product. From Coke touting Lebron James (represented by his agent Mav Carter) to Dewalt sharing their new circular saw the brand marketers put their product front and center.

I was hoping the conference would have more of a digital slant as that more directly applies to my career and business interests. While many marketers mentioned the importance of taking a 360 degree approach across all mediums there wasn’t much discussion on how brands were leveraging new platforms to create new messages and create a more interactive experience with their customers.

Overall, the conference had quite an impressive list of brand side marketers as both speakers and attendees. I was amazed (and relieved) that there wasn’t a slew of Sales Executives from big media companies bombarding the brand people and their budgets. This was a welcome relief as it allowed the conference to focus on marketing in sports.

At Sportsvite we are building a company that connects people who play sports. Our business model is to connect brands with these recreational athletes. Hopefully, this conference made it a tiny bit easier to understand how we can provide value and help brands reach their goals.

Here’s a commercial for your marketing pleasue.