Event Marketing: Event marketing in 1995 and beyond

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.

Will event marketing continue to grow in 1995? Can spending continue to grow at 15% annually as experienced in 1994? Do corporations see integrated marketing, including properties and events, as meeting their business needs in ’95?

Here is a framework for the corporate decision-maker.

First, some facts:

- In the ’80s, event marketing decisions were often based on emotional preferences within an organization. As the economy turned, so did the realization of the need for ‘economic value’ from event involvement.

- Event marketing was ‘experimental’ up to the early ’90s. Cost/value justifications were hard to defend and measure. Research tracking was haphazard, and often left out of the brand/corporate budgeting process.

- This decade brings a North American and often global perspective to event marketing.

This trend will continue to grow in relation to the economic outlook for Canada. That is, as the Canadian economy goes, so goes the autonomy for local decision-making by the multinationals.

- Consumer behavior was driven by greed and emotion in the ’80s. Today, consumers are more knowledgable, less driven by trend, demanding quality and added value, and more socially responsible.

Now, here’s what lies ahead for the event marketing industry:

- Basketball will be ‘hot.’ The National Basketball Association tips off in Canada this November. Watch for interest and enthusiasm to mount.

- Social marketing will continue to grow as companies try to gain a competitive advantage and get closer to their customers.

With the rise in generic products and decline in brand commitment, consumers see little difference among products and services; they’re looking for more.

So, the focus is on the companies. Consumers are looking for corporations to distinguish themselves in terms of their corporate values.

Watch for corporations to create relationships with customers by tying the company and its products to a relevant social issue.

- The focus for ‘big marketers’ will be spending behind the Big Four sports leagues (the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, the nba, the National Football League) and the Olympics and soccer’s World Cup.

Companies expanding into global markets need the scope, efficiency and appeal of ‘big events’ to reach a global audience.

But, at the same time, they will integrate their sponsorships at the regional and local levels to ensure efforts are consumer- and trade-relevant.

- ‘Equity marketing’ will take event marketing one step further.

An ownership stake in an event or property is more cost-effective, provides the rights holder with greater control, and offers greater ability to create a program around the cwner’s event marketing objectives.

Ambush opportunities and sponsor clutter can be controlled more stringently from an equity position. Additional revenues can be generated from co-sponsors and spectators.

- Faced with dramatic cuts in government funding, amateur arts and sport groups are being forced to be more creative and marketing-oriented in terms of revenue generation and consumer attention.

Those organizations which fail will disappear before long. Watch for a few surprises in ’95.

- Market research will be key to the event marketing mix.

As companies re-evaluate spending decisions during these tough economic times, return-on-investment becomes a measure of success.

While there is no standard form of measurement in the event marketing industry, more properties will incorporate research that measures sales increases, image enhancement and heightened awareness.

- How will the information highway affect event marketing?

Interactive electronic approaches will mean whole new opportunities for marketers to communicate with consumers.

Online services and continuing technological advancements will create the ability for sponsors to reach the right people and provide two-way dialogue with them.

On the other hand, direct-to-home programming will put pressure on the networks as they face increasing competition for consumer attention.

- The nfl will make its way to Toronto by 2000. Unfortunately, should the league expand north of the 49th parallel, it is unlikely that the Canadian Football League could retain its fan base.

- Sponsors will demand exclusive, integrated sponsorship packages as they attempt to emerge beyond the clutter.

This includes media spots, consumer and retail promotions, pr, corporate hosting, employee involvement, a cause element, consumer sampling and grassroots marketing.

Although this means higher sponsorship fees, sponsors will pay more for ambush protection, extended reach and greater impact.

Those marketers who are prepared to take advantage of these trends will reap the greatest rewards.