Event Marketing: Good environment for sponsorship

Michael Lang is president of Lang & Associates, a Toronto-based international event marketing agency with offices in Vancouver, Montreal and Atlanta.Kirsten Armitage is an account executive with Lang & Associates, and co-ordinator for the Event Marketing column. Contributions, ideas, media releases...

Michael Lang is president of Lang & Associates, a Toronto-based international event marketing agency with offices in Vancouver, Montreal and Atlanta.

Kirsten Armitage is an account executive with Lang & Associates, and co-ordinator for the Event Marketing column. Contributions, ideas, media releases and feedback should be directed to Kirsten at (416) 229-0060 or fax (416) 229-1210.

Once a trend of the 1980s, environment-themed marketing initiatives have lost prominence in the 1990s, while Canadian business has directed its efforts to battling the latest recession.

However, the environment remains a key concern to Canadians and represents a relatively untapped niche for marketers.

According to idpar’s annual survey of corporate donors, only 2.4% of total corporate donations were directed at environmental programs in 1992.

Further, few corporations leverage their support beyond a straight donation approach.

Interestingly, recent research reports show that consumers react favorably to corporations committed to giving back to the communities in which they operate through ‘community investment.’

In fact, consumers consider corporate support of community-based environmental initiatives to be the second most important area of focus for companies to direct their efforts.

Perhaps more importantly, sponsorship of environmental grassroots programs offers firms an accessible means of addressing key business objectives.

These programs offer natural extensions to increasing employee involvement, profiling corporate image, and responding to the needs of selective market segments.

Canada Trust, for example, established the non-profit Friends of the Environment Foundation in 1990 to support environmental projects at a local level.

Customers can turn their savings accounts ‘green’ by contributing a fixed monthly donation to their local chapter.

Canada Trust matches these contributions and donates it to the foundation, up to a national maximum of $2 million per year.

For the first account that is ‘greened,’ the bank donates $5 to the foundation, up to an annual national maximum of $1 million.

In addition, employees are involved through their participation in local projects and support on local chapter advisory boards.

Successful business/environmental partnerships such as this should be sincere, selective and long-term, with both ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ support at the corporate level.

With relatively few firms leveraging their investments, there are tremendous opportunities for ownership within this niche.

Upcoming events

Earth Day ’95

Earth Day Canada is the national co-ordinating body for Earth Day (April 22), the largest grassroots environmental event in the world.

Millions of people worldwide celebrate this day by participating in events ranging from educational to community-based action projects.

Next year, April 22 will mark the 25th international anniversary of Earth Day.

The charitable organization also creates and manages year-round programs at the national, regional and local levels to assist municipalities, schools, businesses, community groups and environmental organizations in achieving positive environmental results.

For sponsorship information, contact Jed Goldberg or Robin Jones Martin at (416) 599-1991.

EcoDek

A new interactive environmental attraction is coming to the CN Tower in Toronto this fall.

Focussing on local and global issues of concern, EcoDek is a permanent exhibit designed to promote public awareness and education about the environment.

Various displays deal with air-, water- and land-/city-related issues.

Each zone features a large-screen theatre focussing on global issues, and a marketplace consisting of a series of interactive exhibits devoted to local issues.

Computer simulations, live satellite data and the view from the CN Tower combine to create a multimedia experience.

Environment Canada and Agriculture Canada are two of the confirmed sponsors of the attraction.

David Suzuki is spokesperson and advisor to the project.

For more information, contact Joe Palombo at (416) 601-4714.