Only connect

This issue's article exploring commercial avoidance (see page one) cites the 'repeat factor' as one of the culprits fueling the spot-fleeing syndrome. That, from a consumer's perspective, rings truest. Pet peeve alert: 15s that run twice in the same break. THE...

This issue’s article exploring commercial avoidance (see page one) cites the ‘repeat factor’ as one of the culprits fueling the spot-fleeing syndrome. That, from a consumer’s perspective, rings truest. Pet peeve alert: 15s that run twice in the same break. THE SAME 15s. Unfortunately it is not that rare. Is the goal to drive the stalwarts in the commercial-watching minority away from the TV? If so, well done. Running the same 30 during each break in a show, while it may offend slightly less, seems to convey an assumption of audience dimness that feels rude to this couch spud.

Barry Kiefl, a media researcher quoted in the article, pointed a finger at ad clutter and excessive repetition of executions and also says a major factor is quality of the commercials. Well, there is that Yappalot spot, and whole categories that could benefit from a humour infusion, however, even brilliant creative, buried in the midst of the carpet-bombing placement going on, would be lost. It is rare when you see a truly inspired piece of scheduling, like the hair loss spot tied to The Simpsons that CFMT ran, that adds humour and connects simply due to the merits of the right media buy.

The right connection is also key to sponsorship. The pundits in this issue’s sponsorship special report advocate ‘milking’ your sponsorship, which sounds rude, however, with the rise of sponsorship action in the sports arena, that sea of signs around the rink just got thicker. IEG Consulting pegs the global sponsorship industry to grow 12% this year to reach US$24.6 billion in 2001, of which US$9.5 billion is from North American companies, with sports events and properties attracting 69% of all funding. There’s not only more pressure to increase the marketing mileage of your sponsorship by integrating it into grassroots and pre- and post-event campaign elements, there’s a lot more sophistication behind the partnering going on.

And soon, no sport will be left unsigned.

Take Little League. Kids’ baseball teams, and any other sport requiring Ts or sweaters, typically sidle up to some local establishment to fork over some dough to outfit the team. That team then incorporates some mention of the local hardware store on its togs. Now Little League is selling its own togs. Pennsylvania-based youth sports organization Little League Baseball hired itself a New York licensing agent last year and has a line of toddler apparel coming out this fall. In the year prior to securing an agent, LL merch pulled in US$15 million in retail sales. Currently, 150 million kids under the age of 12 play in Little League softball and baseball leagues in the U.S. Internationally, LL leagues operate in over 100 countries.

Where did grassroots go?

Another area where sophistication is on the uptick is promotions. Lately they’ve been evolving, growing in the partnering/tie-in dept., orchestrating fairly integrated pushes, coming up with unique prizes, and sometimes making leaps on the info-gathering front as well. On the simplest level, sometimes a promotion reveals deep insight into a marketer’s knowledge of their demographics, and their demo desires. Fr’instance, plucked out of the backpack of a Grade 4 student was a three-coupon flyer for the Toronto Zoo. One is for March Break free admission. Mom likes that one. One is for free admission in the spring when the new Gorilla Rainforest Exhibit opens (this allows a gorilla pic in the middle of the flyer, which wins kid votes), and the top one is the beauty offer (and the one that got the flyer into the backpack), buy a pizza at the Zoo’s Pizza Pizza and get a $5 Playdium free play coupon. The Zoo acknowledged that it has serious competition for school age kids, and found a brilliant way to deal with that.

To track the promotion action, Strategy launches The Promo Files this issue, a regular feature in which recent promos of note are collected and dissected. Please submit yours.

cheers, mm

Mary Maddever, Editorial Director