A Sponsorship Property’s Perspective – Brand Presence.
Sponsorships & Strategic Partnerships
For a period of 6 weeks starting January 21, 2014, The KMAC GROUP will be tracking Olympic sponsor activations demonstrating sponsorship best practices that will help you achieve a positive return on your investment. Each week, we’ll be assessing the Olympic sponsorship practices of leading global and Canadian companies, tracking their activities at all touch points to see how they use sponsorship to drive sales and identify which practices work best.
Our second posting in this series is taking a different approach, shining the spotlight on the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), identifying the steps they have taken to build their brand, land such lucrative and high-profile sponsorships and partnerships while outlining which best practices they’ve implemented to achieve success.
Last week, we introduced 4 Sponsorship Best Practices:
Sponsorship Practice #1: Deliver a Simple, Clear Message;
Sponsorship Practice #2: Connect with your audience emotionally;
Sponsorship Practice #3: Take an integrated, holistic approach;
Sponsorship Practice #4: Market your core strategy through Sport … It’s not just an Olympic campaign;
This week, we’re introducing 3 more best practices:
Sponsorship Practice #5. Innovative Sponsorship “Adding value to existing ideas and platforms” to make them better, more productive and efficient. Innovation is essential in defining the strategy to make big ideas valuable and viable to both the market and to the brand or company.
Sponsorship Practice #6: Engaging your audience. Be clear about how your brand will add value to the experience. Demonstrate this value through active audience engagement, not passive promotion.
Sponsorship Practice #7: Get in the game, in real-time. The London Olympics were known as the most social Olympic games to date. A flood of Twitter, Facebook and other digital activity streams supported the live TV experience. Marketing teams need to be ready to interact with, address, be present and engaged in the conversation as it’s happening in real time!
Canadian Olympic Committee Analysis:
To look ahead, we first must look into the past and recognize how far the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) has come. Heading into the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games I was working with Official Canadian Team Outfitter “Champion”. There was very little momentum and interest in licensed Canadian Olympic product. Retailers were not interested in carrying the Official Team Gear product and the public was not emotionally connected to the Team or Games. Things began to change in 1998 when the NHL sent professionals to the 1998 Nagano Games. Roots raised the bar on how licensed team merchandise was designed and created a connection with the public allowing Canadians to “feel” like they were part of the Canadian Olympic Team. The COC (known as the COA back then) began a brand building process that today had vaulted them into a leading sport property. The COC is a national, private, not-for-profit organization committed to sports excellence. They are responsible for all aspects of Canada’s involvement in the Olympic Movement, including Canada’s participation in the Olympic, Youth Olympic and Pan American games. (CNW: Canadian Olympic Committee Company Profile) They are committed to delivering the resources Canada’s elite athletes need to perform at their best.
(Official Champion Olympic Gear, 1996 Atlantic Olympic Games)
Fast forward to 2010 – Vancouver 2010 – ‘Own The Podium’ and the changing face of Olympic marketing in Canada.
What is ‘Own The Podium’?
- Own The Podium, launched in 2005, is a not-for-profit organization that prioritizes and determines investment strategies to national sport organizations in an effort to deliver more Olympic and Paralympic medals for Canada. This initiative assisted Canada and Canadian Athletes in their quest to be the top medal finisher at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
- It was also an online campaign that invited Canadians across the country to show their Olympic colours and support the Canadian Olympic team on its quest to ‘Own The Podium’ in Vancouver 2010.
- The purpose of this campaign was to give Canadians the opportunity to remember and celebrate the country’s past Olympians as well as financially support the Canadian team.
- The program’s focus was to provide additional resources, leadership, expertise and high performance sport programming and coaches to help them achieve podium success.
- Own The Podium helped Canada produce 14 gold medals!
London 2012 – ‘Give Your Everything’ – faced with the hangover of the 2010 Vancouver Games euphoria, the Canadian Olympic Committee was faced with a new challenge – how to rebrand itself and secure new sponsors and generate new revenue streams to replace those lost by 2010 sponsors such as General Motors Canada, Rona and Acer.
The result – ‘Give Your Everything’
What is ‘Give Your Everything’?
- ‘Give Your Everything’ was a 15-week, multi-platform national campaign of the Canadian Olympic Team, containing more than 800 Out of Home placements, print, radio, digital short documentaries and fifteen, 30 and 60 second digital TV spots.
- It not only won them their first Canadian Marketing Association award but also was deemed their most successful branding campaign to date.
- This campaign highlighted Olympic hopefuls and their coaches from 8 different sports, focusing on their inspirational efforts as they prepared to compete for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Sochi 2014 – ‘We Are Winter’
What is ‘We Are Winter’?
- ‘We Are Winter’ is their most integrated, digitally enabled and largest brand undertaking in COC history.
- A national advertising campaign based on more than 100 hours of video footage highlighting Canada’s natural scenery, including mini-documentaries featuring the likes of Kaillie Humphries, Mark McMorris and Mikael Kingsbury.
- The purpose of this campaign is to showcase the drive and determination athletes have as they train for the Olympic games and get to know the athletes more personally
- They officially on-boarded Twitter as their social media partner of the Canadian Olympic Team, and are actively translating these tweets to a true ‘conversation’ using the #WeAreWinter hashtag
- The $14 million campaign is the largest-ever for the COC, and more than double the budget of ‘Give Your Everything’.
- The COC is expected to have twice the media reach of anything the COC has ever done before, while raising the profile of Canadian athletes and the COC
How did the COC implement best practices?
Sponsorship Practice #5. Innovative Sponsorship “Adding value to existing ideas and platforms”
The Canadian Olympic committee recognized the massive amount of momentum from the Vancouver Games and decided to up the ante. To top their already wildly successful ‘Give Your Everything’ campaign that earned them sponsorship deals with high profile companies such as BMW Group Canada and Canadian Tire Corp, Ltd, they rebranded Olympic.ca to strengthen their digital presence as well as better highlight Canadian athletes and serve the needs of fans and the Canadian Olympic team as a whole. Simple idea, but made a world of difference. It’s not about maintenance, it’s about improving and constantly pushing forward by creating an emotional, engaging, valuable, desirable property that this group of esteemed companies wanted to be associated with.
Sponsorship Practice #6: Engaging your audience.
More often than not, when something changes in the marketplace, it usually captures someone’s attention, and in this case; it not only attracted supporters and fans, but also sponsorships and strategic partnerships. By sparking a new level of support and interest through their impactful and large scale marketing campaigns, it has elevated the COC brand, making them a desirable partner for leading companies and brands. Through these campaigns and constant brand refinement, they were able to engage potential stakeholders with their ability to be effective in what they do.
Sponsorship Practice #7: Get in the game, in real-time.
Taking another dimension to the next level, the COC amplified their digital presence with a new partnership with Twitter, naming them their Official Social Media Partner of the Canadian Olympic Team. This partnership provides a unique partnership where they can share brand campaign content with Twitter users across the country, as well as create ‘true’ real-time conversations using the #WeAreWinter hashtag. If we’ve learned anything in the past few years, it’s the fact that we need to be present, engage our audience and interact with them in ‘real-time’.
The strategic branding effort made by the COC to increase their credibility and raise their brand presence appears to have already paid out substantial gains in winning corporate sponsors who will help further push the COC forward into the hearts and minds of Canadians, the Canadian Olympic Team and for the country.
For over 21 years, The KMAC GROUP has worked with some of the world’s best-known companies to help them grow their sales. Using our experience in strategic sales, key account management, sales training, project management, consumer engagement and live retail event activations, we help companies like Procter & Gamble and General Mills increase sales performance.
For the next 6 weeks, The KMAC GROUP will be tracking Olympic sponsor activations demonstrating sponsorship best practices that will help you achieve a positive return on your investment. Each week, we’ll be assessing the Olympic sponsorship practices of leading global and Canadian companies, tracking their activities at all touch points to see how they use sponsorship to drive sales and identify which practices work best.
What is Sponsorship?
- Sponsorship has become one of the fastest growing forms of the integrated marketing communications mix. A strategic sponsorship can broaden your competitive advantage providing access to strategic partnerships, unique properties and a wider audience. By financially supporting or providing products or services to support an event, activity, person or organization, a company can enhance credibility; increase brand awareness and recognition while generating new sales and forming new business partnerships.
A well planned and executed Sponsorship strategy allows a company, product or service to resonate with a target audience in a meaningful way that distinctly differentiates you from competitors and substantiates your ability to deliver a program externally to customers while driving incremental sales on your investment. All of this is done of course if you carefully choose strategic partnerships where two or more parties are benefiting from the arrangement. The end goal is to reach more of your target market profitability!
Sponsorship Best Practices
Drawing from our sponsorship marketing experiences of 10 Olympic Games and over 50 program activations, let’s start by identifying 4 key Olympic sponsorship best practices we’ve learned (there are many other best practices that we will be featuring over the next few weeks):
Sponsorship Practice #1: Deliver a simple, clear message.
Deliver a clear message that is communicated early, blending traditional, digital and social communication mediums while showcasing a variety of strategic partnerships using athletes and sport governing marks to authenticate the message.
Sponsorship Practice #2: Connect with your audience emotionally.
The core message should contain an emotional element that goes above and beyond communicating product features and benefits. This will help magnify the connectivity and impact on your audience.
Sponsorship Practice #3: Take an integrated, holistic approach.
Campaigns are holistic. This involves aligning the efforts of many functional divisions of the enterprise and bringing them to life through all communication channels. A consistent, clear, compelling company, brand or service message will help the audience better understand the message and take action. The message needs to be consistent across all functions of an entity as well as those of advertising, selling, PR, digital and direct marketing and promotion.
Sponsorship Practice #4: Not JUST an “Olympic” campaign.
Your campaign should not be an “Olympic” campaign only; rather it should be your core, strategic marketing campaign utilizing the global awareness of the Olympics to bring your core messages to life. The campaign should be conceived long before the Games begin, and live on long after the Games.
Levels of Sponsorship Investment for the Olympic Games
Many companies sponsor the Olympic Games because it works. A company can invest in an Olympic sponsorship in many different ways. For example:
TOP Sponsorship – IOC
- “TOP” is the abbreviation for “The Olympic Partner” programme. This programme is a global partnership managed by the IOC (International Olympic Committee), and is established for a duration of 4 years corresponding to the Olympic quadrennial period.
NOCOG or Games Sponsorship
- The Olympic Games are entrusted by several committees including the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of the host country as well as the host city itself. The OCOG consists of the IOC member or members in the country, the President and Secretary General of the NOC and at least 1 member representing the host city.
NOC Sponsorship or Official Supplier Status
- A National Olympic Committee such as The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) is responsible for all aspects of the country’s (Canada’s) involvement in the Olympic moment including Canada’s participation in the Olympic, Pan American and Youth Olympic Games.
National Sport Governing Body Sponsorship
- This level of sponsorship is not affiliated with the Olympic Games or Rings rather it is a sponsorship supporting a national sport governing body and team such as Skate Canada, Hockey Canada or Speed Skating Canada.
Individual Athlete Sponsorship
- Sponsorship and support of individual athletes
These are just a few of the ways a company can become involved in Olympic themed sponsorship.
Corporate Sponsor Analysis #1 – Canadian Tire Corporation
The first corporate sponsorship analysis in our series will feature Canadian Tire Corporation.
Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited (TSX:CTC.a) (TSX:CTC) is a Family of Companies that includes Canadian Tire Retail, PartSource, Gas+, FGL Sports (Sport Chek, Hockey Experts, Sports Experts, Pro Hockey Life, National Sports, S3 and Atmosphere), Mark’s, Canadian Tire Financial Services and Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities. Their primary retail business categories are: Automotive, Living, Fixing, Playing and Apparel. Founded in 1922, they remain one of Canada’s most recognized and trusted brands. Canadian Tire Retail, Sport Chek and Sports Experts are proud to be Premier National Partners of the Canadian Olympic Team. (Source: CNW – Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited Organization Profile).
Canadian Tire Corporation Best Practices
Sponsorship Practice #1: Deliver a simple, clear message.
To deliver a clear message and connect with their audience emotionally, Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited (CTC) used shopper insights to create ideas and incorporate an emotional element in their core strategy. CTC conducted a survey to find out why Canadian kids weren’t getting enough exercise and found that parents felt their kids were not interested in being active (Strategy Online, Aug 2013)*, and that a third of Canadian families could not afford to enroll their children in sports or recreational activities. (Jumpstart Canadian Tire, 2011).**
The core message was then developed to communicate to the country that if children do play, they can develop life skills that are important to becoming stronger individuals, which goes on to create stronger families and communities.
The result – Jumpstart is born! A national charitable program developed by Canadian Tire to help financially disadvantaged kids participate in organized sports and recreation, while helping them gain self-confidence and learn leadership skills. Subsequently, ‘We All Play For Canada‘ was launched in August 2013 to encourage play amongst Canadian kids.
#WeAllPlayForCanada – Canadian Tire Campaign
“We’ve essentially created a consortium of groups and organizations that are authoritative in sports, and we really wanted to try to make a mark on the nation in terms of our authority and the fact that we enable play in Canada,” said TJ FLOOD, senior vice-president of marketing for Canadian Tire in Toronto. “We see it as more than just a campaign – we see it as a rallying cry and a movement of marketing Canadian Tire wants to start to bring back play in Canada,” he added. We’re all about helping enable the jobs and joys of life in Canada, and we feel play plays a huge role in that.”
Sport Chek (Canada’s largest retailer of sports equipment, sporting goods, goods apparel and footwear) is a retail banner within CTC who emphasizes their passion for sports as a way of connecting and engaging with their shoppers and employees. They are essentially telling the same story with their ‘What it Takes‘ campaign which celebrates what it takes to become the best athletes in the world. This program was designed to inspire Canadian kids to not only get out there and play, but also work hard!
#WhatItTakes – Sport Chek Campaign
Sponsorship Practice #2: Connect with your audience emotionally.
CTC has created ongoing interactions with their audiences that play out over time providing the audience an opportunity to co-create the experience and allowing the audience to create content they want to share with others while contributing to the brand story that has already been developed. A great example of this is their WeAllPlayForCanada.ca microsite where Canadians get the chance to upload their own photos, videos, and tips related to play to be featured in a ‘ticker’ to spotlight these kids. They also intend on promoting Canadian athletes year-round in their marketing and advertising efforts across all of its retail banners and marketing channels including Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, Sports Experts and Mark’s.
Sponsorship Practice #3: Take an integrated, holistic approach.
Sometimes aligning many functional divisions of an enterprise through different communication channels can get a little messy, however, if you focus on communicating your core message with a team that can seamlessly execute, it’s definitely worth your while. Not only has Canadian Tire reached out to some of Canada’s best high performance athletes such as Jonathan Toews, Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby, they have consummated many partnerships including one with MLSE, NHL and the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) that are activated with dealer owners internally and with shoppers externally. Also expanding on their grassroots efforts, they are currently developing a “Learn To” series program which is aimed to give more children in need the opportunity to learn and participate in sports at an early age.
Sport Chek and Sports Experts (also a banner within the CTC) are implementing a similar program called “Skills Development”, which will build on core skills as they compete in hockey, soccer, skiing and snowboarding. Through community driven programs, social media, retail and charity initiatives as well as professional athletes, CTC is continuing to demonstrate their commitment to sports and the development of Canadian athletes. (For a list of CTC sponsorship & community programs and digital media initiatives, please refer to the appendix below.***)
Sponsorship Practice #4: Not JUST an “Olympic” campaign.
Last but not least, CTC is utilizing the Olympic sponsorship property as a platform to engage their target market and further communicate their core corporate brand strategy. The global awareness of the Games helps bring their key messages to life, where they can continue to demonstrate the Power of Sport in everyday life and inspire Canadians through their partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee. The company banners consisting of Canadian Tire Retail, Sport Chek and Sports Experts have united their efforts in developing an Olympic-themed idea around their existing sports marketing campaigns, each having their own customized execution. In addition, CTC is involved in 6 amateur sport sponsorships including the Canadian Paralympic Committee, the Canadian Soccer Association, Skate Canada, Hockey Canada, Alpine Canada and Canada Snowboard. Establishing these new partnerships continue to build on top of their already solid foundation of existing partnerships, all stemming from their company values, which is improving lives by enriching family life and building stronger communities across Canada.
Canadian Tire Corporation has carefully and meticulously laid the groundwork for what could be their most successful campaign yet. These best practices are vital to their testament in showing the world how powerful they are in the retail industry. They have holistically implemented a strategy that is clear and emotionally charged, which was amplified through the sponsorship of the Olympic Games. This has helped their strategy resonate further with their audience and rallied thousands of Canadians to their cause. This is what sets CTC apart from other retailers; they are really allowing their core values to shine through at every level. Canadian Tire Corporation continues to focus on growth to drive business forward by strengthening their core retail business and continuing to create new growth platforms. Last year their revenue increased by 10% to C$11.8 billion dollars (CTC Annual Report, 2012), and is expected to continue to increase throughout their five-year financial strategy as they heavily invest in their retail leadership.
The KMAC GROUP
For over 21 years, The KMAC GROUP has worked with some of the world’s best-known companies to help them grow their sales. Using our experience in strategic sales, key account management, project management and live retail event activations, we help companies like Procter & Gamble and General Mills increase sales performance.
*** CTC Sponsorship & Community Programs / Digital Media
- WE ALL PLAY FOR CANADA (MICROSITE )
- JUMPSTART (SPORTS CHARITY)
- OLYMPIC.CA (NEW GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT)
- TWITTER (#WEALLPLAY)
- FACEBOOK (WE ALL PLAY FOR CANADA)
Local, provincial and national sponsorships:
- Canadian Tire Hockey School (CTHS)
- NASCAR Canadian Tire Series (NCATS)
- Canadian Tire supports many local community sponsorships, for sponsorships at a local level, we encourage you to speak with your local Canadian Tire Dealer for consideration of your project or event
Community Sports Programs
- Mothers Day Run & Walk
- Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame
- Sidney Crosby
- Toronto Maple Leafs
- Calgary Flames
- Brett Lawrie
- Toronto Blue Jays
- Toronto FC
- Vancouver Whitecaps
- Hockey Canada
- Alpine Canada
- Canada Soccer
- Alberta Alpine
- Canada Snowboard
The Canadian Olympic Committee has been making gigantic strides since 2010, and continues to leap forward by attracting some of the biggest brands in Canada. On the heels of announcing a four-year partnership with BMW GROUP CANADA last Friday, January 18/13, the COC then announced earlier this week an eight-year partnership with Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd (one of the largest sports partnerships ever undertaken in the country).
SO, WHAT’S UP?
In 2012, the Canadian Olympic Committee secured its first ever Canadian Marketing Association award for its “Give Your Everything” campaign, by far its most successful branding campaign to date. It included more than 100 Canadian Olympians and their coaches, featuring their hard work and dedication leading up to the London 2012 Games. Not only was this the largest and most integrated campaign the COC has ever implemented, it also sparked a new level of support and interest for Canadian athletes. This program has clearly elevated the COC brand making it a desirable partner for leading companies and brands.
There is no doubt that these partnerships with the COC will catapult these brands into a new limelight, one of excellence, performance, national pride and a deeper tie to sports. The sense of community and support across Canada has flourished and it’s incredible to see Canadian corporations and athletes so receptive.
BMW GROUP CANADA
BMW Group Canada officially joined the roster as the official luxury automotive partner of the Canadian Olympic Team for Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016.
“The BMW Group, a company focused on performance and innovation, is the perfect partner for the Canadian Olympic Team, whose athletes strive for peak performance in every competition,” said Eduardo Villaverde, president and CEO, BMW Group Canada. “Our two organizations share many of the same beliefs and values, and we believe working together will bring tremendous benefits to both of our teams. Over the next four years, we look forward to creating innovative programs that provide substantial financial support to Canadian athletes. Our retailers look forward to this as well; they will be a major force in our overall contributions and programming. At the same time, we know that our associates and customers will be mightily engaged in this partnership, as well.”
“The COC is delighted to welcome this amazing corporation as an official National Partner of the Canadian Olympic team and look forward to driving together towards an even more exciting future for our Canadian athletes,” says Marcel Aubut, President of the Canadian Olympic Committee.
Partnering with BMW Group Canada is a perfect fit, as they stand for excellence and high performance. With any athlete, they aspire to achieve the same goals in the sport and in life.
Canadian Tire, evolving their competitive strategy, moved into a position where they could play a major role in helping Canadian families and amateur athletes succeed. This long-term investment has proven their commitment to spurring on Canada’s champions, as they have been giving Canadian athletes their start in sports for over 90 years. The eight-year partnership with Canada’s Olympic Team and commitment to Amateur Sport in Canada is the largest ever.
The deals consummated include new and expanded partnerships with the Canadian Soccer Association, Skate Canada, Hockey Canada, Alpine Canada Alpin, Canada Snowboard and the Canadian Paralympic Committee.
Canadian Tire’s Sponsorship activation is reported to include an expansive new grassroots “Learn to” series by Canadian Tire and “Skills Development” series by Sport Chek and Sports Experts. These programs are designed to significantly grow participation and competition in skating, hockey, soccer, skiing and snowboarding.
Additionally, a new national employment program will benefit elite Canadian athletes with flexible work schedules to support training.
Lastly, Canadian Tire’s goal is to inspire Canadians by promoting Canadian athletes year-round in marketing and advertising across Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, Sports Experts and Mark’s.
All aspects of the deal are designed to inspire Canadians and encourage lifelong healthy and active living through the ‘power of sport’. Canadian Tire and Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities also plan to work with Own the Podium and the Canadian Olympic Foundation to help more kids get in the game. The Canadian Tire Family of Companies will also be announcing new athlete sponsorship agreements in 2013, supporting Canada’s best and brightest up and coming talent.
Sochi 2014 is not too far off. It’s been three years since Vancouver 2010 and I’m looking to see some gold medal podium marketing from these esteemed partners.
To view the official release of the BMW and COC partnership announcement, please click here.
To view the Canadian Tire and COC partnership video, please click here.
To see the eight “Give Your Everything” digital shorts, and other content, please visit: www.olympic.ca/videos.