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Understanding Why Activation Can Make or Break Your Sponsorship

If you have ever been to a major public event – like a music festival, sports match, or rally – you will know that there is a special kind of atmosphere which exists around large numbers of people. You are all there for the same reason. You are all interested in the same things. You are all looking to have a good time.

For marketers, this vibe is extremely important, because it creates an environment in which people are happy to spend money. It might be on hot dogs, T-shirts, fizzy drinks, foam hands, or anything else which is on offer; the point is that successful sponsorship activation at these events can lead to a significant and sustained spike in sales.

However, successful sponsorship activation is about more than just visibility, as the term ‘activation’ itself suggests. There needs to be a clear and concerted effort to get consumers involved and engaged with products, services, or advertising. A good example of this is the Proctor and Gamble ‘Mums of Olympians’ campaign which appeared throughout the 2012 Olympic Games.

As well as having visible advertising, P&G set up nail art booths for mums at the games, alongside a targeted promotional campaign featuring eleven participating athletes and their mothers. With a party line that encouraged people to ‘say thanks to mum,’P&G managed to turn advertising into an inclusive, emotive, and, ultimately, likeable form of sponsorship activation. It got consumers involved and turned buying P&G products into an act of affection.

The activation of sponsorship identity and presence is crucial, because it gives consumers the reason and incentive to pursue a purchase. It also ties a brand and an event together, which significantly increases the profile and perceived value of the brand, especially if the event is highly regarded. So, for instance, many drinks companies in the US give consumers the chance to collect tokens and win a free ticket to a sports game.

This connects the brand inextricably with the event and convinces consumers that the two must share a privileged relationship. This is the case even if the company has paid for the association and the event organisers have not directly endorsed or recommended it. The trick then is to make the event and the sponsorship one entity, so that activation occurs organically, as a result of engagement with the event.

This can take the form of handing out free pizza every time a batter scores a home run, letting guests at an expo sit inside a fancy sports car, or giving a proportion of sales revenue to a relevant charity. Your sponsorship activation should be creative, engaging, fun, and memorable.

by: Ant Hampel