Sponsors: Take care of your current customers

September 22, 2011

Sponsors are constantly looking for ways to better improve their activation at sporting events and every decision seems to revolve around acquiring new customers and seeing an ROI. One of the best tactics is to use the event to take care of your current customers, and increase the prestige of being part of the brand. BMW is one the brands that is taking full advantage of this tactic.

BMW has partnered with Big Ten Sports Properties  to become the conference’s official luxury automobile. As a reward to their customers, fans arriving to the season’s inaugural Big Ten football championship game in a BMW will be given their own reserved parking spots close to Lucas Oil Stadium.  BMW will also establish a similar preferred parking program at many of the conference’s championship events including Men and Women’s Basketball, Baseball, and Olympic Sports. BMW has also wisely created a similar system at golf tournaments on the PGA and European tours.

Speaking of the PGA, another brand that employs this method well is American Express. AmEx’s activation centers around taking care of the card members and allows them access to PGA professional that non card members could only dream of. At the U.S. Open Championship, American Express offered card members free headphones and radios to listen to all the day’s action, just for showing their card.

American Express has also enabled the PGA to start a “Friend of a Card Member” that allows anyone paying for a golf lesson with an AmEx card to bring a friend and get a lesson for free.  Another program called “Championship Tees” enables card members to have access to courses that have previously hosted PGA or USGA championships. It’s clear that American Express knows how to take advantage of sporting events.

Sometimes, it pays for a sponsor to take care of their own rather than spend wildly to attract attention. Not only can the company save money, but with a carefully crafted activation, they can create a buzz and turn their own customers into their best marketers.


Foursquare and American Express team up; Sports implications?

June 23, 2011

Foursquare and American Express announced a deal today wherein rewards and incentives will get even better. Users will be able to sync their Foursquare and AmEx accounts where they will receive exclusive discounts and saving at specified locations. For example, shoppers who check in on Foursquare at H&M will recieve a $10 credit to their AmEx account when they spend $75. If you spend $50 at Sports Authority, you will receive a $20 reward. This partnership has great potential and has already created a buzz after an initial test at SXSW back in March involving a “spend $5, get $5” deal.

If used properly, this type of partnership could have big implications on professional sports teams and their use of location-based apps such as Foursquare, Gowalla, or Whrrl. After a proper sync with a team and/or league, there are many possibilities to leverage this type of relationship.

In-Stadium

  • Season-Ticket holders receiving credits to an account for every check-in at the game, redeemable at the game or for future ticket purchases with the team (and who wouldn’t want to be the ‘mayor’ of Yankee Stadium?)
  • “Booth of the night” – One sponsor/vendor’s booth is pre-determined by the team each game, and the first fan to check-in at said booth wins credit to store and a shout-out with sponsor on stadium scoreboard (Ex: $25 to Jimmy’s BBQ.)

Out of Stadium

  • Every fan check-in at a team’s sponsor leads to money redeemable at the stadium (Ex: St.Louis Rams fan checks in at U.S. Bank, receives $10 to spend at Edward Jones Dome.)
  • Every fan check-in at a league’s sponsor will allow them to receive cash back if they pay with league’s credit card (Ex: NFL-Visa, NBA-American Express, MLB-Mastercard.)

This American Express/Foursquare is only the tip of the iceberg, but I think it is safe to assume that location-based apps are here to stay, and it will be exciting to see how they can be integrated into sports business.