Jammin’ in Jamaica sponsorship

The fun side of Hawaiian TropicNo one was happier than Allan Lever, president of Tropic SunCare Canada, and principal sponsor of MuchMusic's Jammin' in Jamaica spring break event, when he was told the opening of the week-long, fun-in-the-sun party was bound...

The fun side of Hawaiian Tropic

No one was happier than Allan Lever, president of Tropic SunCare Canada, and principal sponsor of MuchMusic’s Jammin’ in Jamaica spring break event, when he was told the opening of the week-long, fun-in-the-sun party was bound to be a flop – a belly flop, that is.


To Lever, the opening belly flop is not only a tradition dating back four years to the first spring break event organized by MuchMusic in Daytona, Fla., but also symbolizes why his company, the Canadian distributor of the Hawaiian Tropic brand of sun protection products, has remained a sponsor throughout that time.

‘We see it as a good fit to our whole marketing mix because the strategy behind our print campaign has been the very serious side of suncare – the prevention of aging and ultimately of skin cancer,’ Lever says.

‘By going with MuchMusic, we could get a different message across, which is the fun side of Hawaiian Tropic,’ he says.

To that end, company officials brought with them to Jamaica tons of summer fun items, including hundreds of Hawaiian Tropic-branded beachballs – which were used to decorate the pool in anticipation of the opening belly flop – plus visors, frisbees and several boxes of Hawaiian Tropic product samples for use by Canadian students who had flown down for the event.


Lever worked with the promotions staff of the Toronto-based music specialty service to organize several Hawaiian Tropic-sponsored events, including a boat race, in which paddlers had to sink beachballs into garbage cans, and a relay event in which participants had to pass a beachball, made slippery with Hawaiian Tropic tanning oil, to the next person in line, without the use of their hands.

The week’s activities, which included concerts by Canadian rock bands The Doughboys and The Waltons, a live taping of MuchMusic’s dance video program X-tendamix, and plenty of poolside and beachside activities, culminated in a weekend broadcast on Feb. 26-27.

‘It was great for us in terms of product recognition because they used our beachballs, our signage, our product,’ Lever says.

‘So while it was not commercial time per se, we got lots of plugs,’ he says.

As well, Lever says, the Hawaiian Tropic events made for great tv programming.

VJs got into it

‘The vjs, Steve Anthony and Erica Ehm, got right into it,’ he says. ‘They were spraying everyone with oil.’

Fun and games aside, Lever says sponsoring MuchMusic’s Jammin’ in Jamaica event made good business sense.

He says university and college students, who comprise a good portion of MuchMusic’s audience, make up a significant part of Hawaiian Tropic’s target market, and while consumer research has shown the brand enjoys high recognition among the 18-25 age group, the company wanted to reinforce that.

Still like to party

As well, students today – although much more aware of the risks of sun exposure than their counterparts 25 years ago, when the Hawaiian Tropic brand was introduced – still like to party and are not willing to reduce that risk by staying indoors during nice weather.

‘As much as the best way of dealing with the depletion of the ozone layer is to stay out of the sun, realistically, people aren’t going to do that, especially young people,’ Lever says.

‘They are going to go to the beach, to play volleyball, to go swimming, to take part in sports,’ he says.

‘Have fun’

‘The spring break event gives us the opportunity to say, `Have fun in the sun, but protect yourself.’ ‘

And finally, Lever says, the timing of the event could not have been better.

The end-of-February air date comes just when people are starting to think about spring, according to Lever, an important factor in determining sales later in the season.

Not only did the event allow Hawaiian Tropic to reach its target audience with its safe sun message at an opportune time, but Lever says Jammin’ in Jamaica provided sponsors (Western Union was the event’s other major sponsor) with good value for their money.

In return for cash, product samples and licensed merchandise, Hawaiian Tropic was given credit during on-air promotions that ran for six weeks before the broadcast dates, commercial airtime during the broadcast, live and repeat coverage of Hawaiian Tropic-sponsored events, and participation in a two-hour special which will be shown later this year.

On-site, the event provided Hawaiian Tropic the opportunity to sample its products – 40 in all, including baby, children, sports, tanning, protective and after-sun, in different fragrances and with different sun protection factors – to a captive audience.

As well, the event was promoted via a 16-location campus tour, tv book advertising and announcements on MuchMusic affiliates Citytv in Toronto, atv in the Maritimes and ckvr in Barrie, Ont.

All in all, the package provided what Lever calls ‘significant value.’

And while he has no sure-fire way of measuring the success of the event, Lever says sales of Hawaiian Tropic products have, for the past four years, outpaced the 20% annual growth of the suncare market – this while the rest of the company’s marketing mix has remained the same – print, radio, and heavy co-op with retailers.

For its part, MuchMusic had several objectives, says Susan Arthur, manager of client marketing services.

The first, she says, was to create a proprietary event, something the specialty service would be identified with, year after year.

The second was to involve viewers in an event that reflects MuchMusic’s interactive nature.

‘We wouldn’t go to Jamaica without bringing viewers with us,’ Arthur says. ‘We want our viewers to be part of what we do, and we want to be part of what our viewers do.’

Enhanced brand image

And the third objective was to hook up with sponsors that enhanced the brand image of MuchMusic as a fun, hip service.

While the number of students attending the event was down from last year, Arthur says that was largely due to the price.

Airfare and accommodation for the Jamaica trip was $799, compared with $259 for Daytona.

The event had to be moved because the Daytona 500 car race was scheduled that same week.

As for audience numbers, Dave Kirkwood, MuchMusic’s director of sales and marketing, says they are comparable to last year, and considering the event was scheduled against the closing ceremonies of this year’s Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, ‘that’s a good show.’