Sep 11, 2009 at 06:18 PM
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Is Bigger Always Better in Sponsorship Sales?

Stacy Mitchell penned a great piece the other day entitled How the World's Biggest Corporations, From Starbucks to Wal-Mart to Barnes & Noble, Claim to Be 'Local.' Here's a short excerpt:

'HSBC, one of the biggest banks on the planet, has taken to calling itself "the world's local bank." Starbucks is un-branding at least three of its Seattle outlets, the first of which just reopened as "15th Avenue Coffee and Tea." Winn-Dixie, a 500-outlet supermarket chain, recently launched a new ad campaign under the tagline, "Local flavor since 1956." The International Council of Shopping Centers, a global consortium of mall owners and developers, is pouring millions of dollars into television ads urging people to "Shop Local" -- at their nearest mall. Even Wal-Mart is getting in on the act, hanging bright green banners over its produce aisles that simply say, "Local." Hoping to capitalize on growing public enthusiasm for all things local, some of the world's biggest corporations are brashly laying claim to the word "local.'

With so many companies trying to act like the "cornerstore," are properties pushing the wrong buttons by trying to appeal to the "megaretailer?" If sponsors don't want to act big, why should properties? I just flipped through a few sponsorship presentations and almost every page had some reference to "more than." More than 5 hours of network television coverage, more than x # of hits to website, coverage from x, y and z major media outlet, attendees from all over the country, 35 different states, etc..

In our rush to get validated (or even "get a look" from big sponsors), if this article is any indication properties may be running from their biggest selling point and value proposition: LOCAL

Of course, this is all a bit of theory because one of the biggest challenges with sponsorship remains that companies want to act local, but operate global. That often means: "we like your property, but it's so small and our budgets are so big that it's unlikely to make it out of the pile."

But will "local washing" as Mitchell dubs the term mean that more brands get serious about finding efficient ways to get down to business on the local level? Relating to sponsorship it could come in many forms: more effectively delegating incoming proposals, pro-actively searching for local opportunities or simply giving more budgetary control to local managers.

If properties are still selling big when sponsors are thinking small, none of that really matters.

This article supports one of Mike's recent posts, Buying and Selling True Value, which basically says properties should get back to the core of what makes them unique.

Now you might be saying, who would turn down an opportunity because it's too big or has too much media exposure? Twelve months ago, some might have also wondered why a bank wouldn't want VIP hospitality. It's all a matter of managing perception.

With all of this said, every sponsor has different objectives. Some want to expand to new markets. Others are looking for a national platform. And in the case of the examples Mitchell lists, companies are trying to act local. Is the way we present opportunities reflective of that diverse reality?

In our rush to compete with other properties, are we in fact running from our greatest asset?