In the world of 21st-century marketing, traditional advertising techniques are giving way to new methods of helping brands to better connect with target audiences and enhance their exposure. Sponsorship marketing is fast becoming a lucrative avenue for ambitious, growing businesses, bringing together prominent influencers to portray outstanding brand experiences, transforming brand recognition in the process.
Whether you’re looking at spreading the net locally, regionally, nationwide or even globally, carefully-selected sponsorships can have a tangible five-fold benefit:
- Greater visibility
If you’re a small, local business, sponsoring the biggest brands and events may be somewhat out of your reach, at least for the time being. Nevertheless, sponsoring the right level of event or brand will help to increase your business’ visibility and provide new opportunities to interact.
- Positive connections and associations
By sponsoring a brand or event, your business will be viewed as an advocate for the company or organisation. Positive association is particularly powerful. Consumers generally associate sponsors with the characteristics and personality of the brand or event being marketed.
- Pitch your brand at new audiences
Sponsoring events give ambitious businesses the chance to engage with niche markets they may not be able to reach in other ways. Similarly, brands may look to use figureheads or sponsors from niche industries to draw in untapped sources of revenue. Canadian Texas Hold’em poker star, Daniel Negreanu, appeared in a Diet Pepsi commercial at the height of the poker boom, designed to encourage poker players to adopt Diet Pepsi as their drink of choice at the tables. We’ll delve deeper into this strategy in a little while.
- Develop new relationships that drive ROI
If you choose sponsorships or brands and events wisely, based on the long-term goals of your company, it’s possible to expand your reach to other industry professionals as well as consumers, developing potentially lucrative relationships that can drive your business forward.
- Generate more conversions
Another purpose of brand or event sponsorship is to generate more sales leads. Engaging in fun, useful marketing activities that leave a positive impression can foster customers for the future.
We touched upon Diet Pepsi’s use of charismatic poker pro, Daniel Negreanu earlier in the article. Negreanu is one of the most enjoyable players to watch at the poker tables, with his witty one-liners and fun and friendly demeanour generating a positive view of professional card players, regardless of whether it’s Texas Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha or 7-Card Stud. The rest of this article is geared towards demonstrating the power of people in sponsorship marketing, notably professional poker stars. The fastest growing online poker brands in the industry promote their tournaments and cash games using knowledgeable, exciting and highly successful poker professionals to become the face of their brands, attracting new players in the process. Nevertheless, there are various examples of non-poker related brands that have used professional Texas Hold’em players to appear in commercials, interviews and much more to humanise the brands and make them more relatable to the gaming community.
Diet Pepsi: The first non-poker product to feature poker pros
Back in 2006, a trio of enigmatic poker professionals were chosen to appear in the first ever mainstream commercial featuring poker stars representing a non-poker product. Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth and Scotty Nguyen joined a long list of television stars to have cashed cheques written by Pepsi, including P. Diddy and Jackie Chan. As poker was becoming big business, Pepsi sought to position itself in the heart of popular culture with this light-hearted commercial, featuring a Diet Pepsi can that was capable of beating even the world’s best card players, along with the strapline: “Because Diet Pepsi is so good, it always succeeds”.
Yahoo! Games sought out Phil Laak to better connect with convention attendees
Of course, brands also have a history of causing a stir when exhibiting at industry conventions and conferences. By sponsoring prominent figures in relevant sectors to appear on exhibition stands, it’s an effective way of generating positive associations with up-and-coming brands. Yahoo! Games debuted its next-generation multiplayer games at the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Exposition, including Yahoo! Poker, which allowed up to ten players to play at a table together, connected via mobile phones or online via desktops. Professional poker player, Phil Laak, who married Hollywood actress Jennifer Tilly back in 2004, was sponsored to appear at the event, giving out poker tips and tricks to attendees and playing against random passers-by via nearby game stations at Chicago’s Union Station.
GoDaddy sponsored Vanessa Rousso after a successful year in the limelight
35-year-old Vanessa Rousso made quite the impression on the professional poker scene. Between 2005 and 2011, Rousso raked in almost $3.5m in tournament earnings and quickly ranked in the top ten of the most successful female poker players in history. 2009 was a particularly powerful year for Rousso. She’d finished runner-up in the National Heads-Up Poker Championship and spoke out in favour of changes to gambling laws in one of the most prohibitive U.S. states, Florida. After featuring in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, later that year, Rousso would be signed to a sponsorship deal with domain registration and hosting provider, GoDaddy, joining Danica Patrick and Candace Michelle as female ambassadors for the brand. Check out Rousso’s first GoDaddy commercial below to see how the brand utilised her talents to their own benefit.
The 2015 Chrysler 300: Phil Ivey included as part of its Kings and Queens of America adverts
Phil Ivey is regarded by many poker enthusiasts and players within the game to be the world’s best all-round poker star. His cool, calm and collected demeanour has seen him selected by Chrysler as one of its ‘Kings of America’ in the commercials for the new 2015 Chrysler 300. Ivey joined a string of prominent figures in entrepreneurship, sports and poker, underlining the growing importance of sponsoring the right people in popular culture to market new products to the masses.
Using influencers within poker and other forms of popular culture will continue to be an integral marketing channel for growing brands. By providing financial backing in exchange for exposure, brands can tap into niche markets they may not be able to reach in other ways.