From 2005 to 2009 Allstate sponsored the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Speedway and although only a few years ago, many consumer brands have been forced to change their strategy in the sports sponsorship arena in order to stay relevant.
Finding ways to stand out is no longer an option but a necessity. While it took years of diminished returns, brands now realize that simply paying for their logo to appear next to a professional sports team, or on the side of a racecar no longer provided the same return on investment
“[Insurance] is in one of the most competitive industries in terms of marketing,” says Edward Gold, State Farm’s Advertising Director, “we were in a $500 million dollar advertising category just 15 years ago, now it’s closer to $4 billion! The fact of the matter is that the marketplace hasn’t grown much during that time period (there’s only a finite number of people who need car insurance). Some advertisers argue that the only way to stand out is to have exclusivity in sponsorship, but there’s really no such thing as exclusivity anymore. We may have it for an hour, but as soon as the next program goes on you immediately see one of our competitors.”
For brands like State Farm, the focus has shifted on finding dynamic partnerships that allow engagement with consumers and integrate into the sponsored properties.
Gold, continuing, “When it comes to sports, it may not be the last place to find an attention focused consumer, but its close. What matters more is that people will always watch live sports and they’ll engage with their friends and other fans unlike any other activity.”
State Farm has expanded its partnership with the NBA to create on the most successful integrated sponsorship campaigns in recent memory. As the presenting sponsor of leagues games on ESPN, they also created a viral campaign around LA Clipper Chris Paul that is being leveraged after the season ended with the 2013 NBA Draft.
Survival depends on the ability to create dynamic and engaging campaigns that allow brands to become a literal part of the property being used as a channel.