Sponsorship Reality: Cut to the Core of Sponsorship

MH3 —  June 11, 2011

As Labatt’s manager of sponsorship and marketing integration, Scott Thompson understands how to use consumer insights to drive a brand, partnership strategy, and marketplace activities. In his presentation, he went through Labatt’s current strategy, what they’ve done in the past and where they’re going in the future.

Labatt’s goal is to move their partnership towards activating properties and partnerships, sponsorsing consumer-centric properties, making tough choices about what to sponsor and what not to sponsor, achieving branded engagement and, most significantly, getting one-on-one access to consumers instead of awareness.

One of the ways that Labatt has been achieving these goals is by connecting with consumers digitally. Scott showed a video of Canada’s first interactive beer cans, with cans of Kokanee featuring trail maps of various Canadian mountains. Using a smart phone and scan codes, consumers can play a game tracking the iconic Kokanee-stealing Sasquatch. By creating a one-on-one experience with consumers, Labatt was able to achieve incredible short- and long-term results that quadrupled expectations.

Another way of forming consumer connections is through 360-degree execution, such as the partnership developed between Budweiser and the Heritage Classic. It began with commercials, which then led to activation on premise, at retail, on Facebook and on packaging to have the maximum impact. Then, as the hockey season transitioned into the playoffs, they focused on the emotional connection many Canadians have with the Stanley Cup. They launched a series of commercials featuring the Cup, and included Stanley Cup USB keys in packaging to build on the success of the mini Stanley Cups they gave away in packaging in the ‘80s. When consumers plugged the USB key into their computer, it prompted a splash page that pushed consumers to Facebook, unlocking bonus interactive team content and a ballot to win a trip to the playoffs. This giveaway resonated with consumers, who traded keys with each other on the Facebook page and showed off their collections online.

Finally, Scott reviewed the incredible execution that Bud Light has had during Formula 1, which has been built using radio, Facebook, out-of-home, on-trade, packaging and retail tools. They also have a Bud Light Zone on site – featuring prizes, golf cart rides, a VIP section and a branded dance floor – and prizing and a VIP party on Crescent Street, the epicenter of the Formula 1 Montreal party. This has all been possible because of the partnerships they’ve formed.

Overall, Scott said, “We don’t see ourselves as a beer company anymore… we’re selling fast moving goods.” He’s rewritten the value equation through innovation, such as phone gaming, a mobile app that helps sport-lovers find nearby sport bar, and the Budweiser Big Rig, a beer garden on wheels.

At the conclusion of the presentation, Scott presented a series of challenges to property delegates that acted as key takeaways: always put yourself in the company’s consumers’ shoes (when trying to sell a sponsorship); seek to understand where the brand is going and not where it is; and think big by presenting one big concept.