Exploiting your edifice complex

How many ways can a company maximize its ROI once its name is on a venue? The answer is, as many ways as its corporate imagination and the terms of its contract allow. According to the experts, initiatives may include the following:

How many ways can a company maximize its ROI once its name is on a venue? The answer is, as many ways as its corporate imagination and the terms of its contract allow. According to the experts, initiatives may include the following:

* Invite key customers, vendors and other vital contacts to special events at your venue, as Canon Theatre did with invitations to ‘put on your boogie shoes’ for the premiere of Saturday Night Fever last week. This practice will be maintained in future, says Canon’s Wayne Doyle, along with cross-promotions for Canon customers. ‘We might, for instance, partner with a major retailer such as Future Shop where customers who buy a Canon product could win a Theatre Lovers Weekend in Toronto, complete with free tickets to our theatre and those owned by the Mirvishes.’

* Make sure there’s an appropriate match between your company profile and the nature and demographics of your new venue. For example, while Tim Hortons children’s camps are logical, Molson children’s camps would just be begging for criticism from MADD and others.

* Where feasible, make sure your contract calls for the use of your product throughout the venue, as Epcor Utilities did by installing its energy-efficient electrical systems throughout the Epcor Centre.

* Schedule tours, sampling programs, or demonstrations, as appropriate, to ensure that visitors have a positive experience and go away with glowing impressions of your company or brand.

* Attract visitors and media coverage by booking free live performances by entertainers in your venue, as is being done at Sam Goody Central in Mall of America.

* Access the database of season-ticket holders at your venue for marketing purposes, as many sports and entertainment arenas do.

* Court public and media goodwill with giveaways to deserving community recipients, as Boston’s Fleet Center – which faced a sizable backlash when it retired the beloved Boston Gardens name – did when it distributed 10,000 tickets to youth organizations and then teamed with Dunkin’ Donuts for an extra treat for underprivileged youngsters at various performances.

* Demonstrate your product attributes, as Canon is currently doing to a captive audience of international journalists who are using Canon computers and other equipment in the media centre for the Canada Summer Games.

* Maximize the number of street and highway signs directing patrons to your venue and advertising your name to all other passersby, as the Epcor Centre did in Calgary.

* Ditto with on-site signage but, says Performance Sponsorship Group’s Judy Haber, ‘watch out for overkill,’ especially in cultural venues.

* Mount a museum-style display depicting your company’s history, as Rogers did in its Communications Centre at Ryerson University.

* Secure so-called ‘pouring rights’ to sell your product exclusively in both interior concourse areas of your venue and adjoining real estate (in which you may or may not take an ownership position), as many large beverage companies have done.

* Festoon your logo throughout your facility, as the title sponsor of the Air Canada Centre has done even unto the seat covers and ushers’ uniforms.

* Do be sensitive, especially in public spaces such as museums, to anything that smacks of crass commercialism. ‘Putting a car display in such a venue would be wrong,’ says MacLaren Momentum’s Rick Janes, ‘but if it’s a car display painted by Pablo Picasso’s daughter, then it has a relevant reason for being there.’

* Do look for ways to showcase your corporate social responsibility by partnering with civic and other organizations in ‘do good’ projects that feature your venue, either as a site or a sponsor.

* Do not, as Second Dimension International’s Pete McAskile puts it, ‘slap your name on something and then immediately ballyhoo how great you are. You need to build your credibility slowly, especially with the news media, which are inclined to say, ‘So you threw some money around, so what?”

* And, it almost goes without saying: Exploit your canny benevolence in all marketing vehicles – including your annual shareholders report.