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Brands and Properties – Ingredients for the Ultimate Celebration

Dawn Turner's picture

July 4th is a holiday that most Americans equate to military appreciation, baseball, hotdogs, flag waving/displaying, parades, fireworks and other general celebrations in honor of our nation’s birth. This is, of course, just one example of a holiday/celebratory time that properties/brands showcase their support of their chosen charities/organizations, and it got me to thinking that the topic might make for an interesting column.

Over the course of the past several years, my team has put together programs with our properties that highlight our company’s designated charities. One might chalk this up to the importance of being good community citizens, or they might call it smart business. I like to think it is both. Having a community presence is important, and it is equally important for a brand’s customers to understand what that means, what it means to them and how they can get involved. These days it seems like everyone is affected by something in their personal life/family, and I get the feeling that as Americans we are more anxious than ever to get involved and show our support of something.

If you already work with your brands/properties on special programming you are likely shaking your head yes, yes, yes. If you don’t, you might be wondering what this means for you as either a brand or property contact. The first question I would ask is if your brand/property has an official charity (or maybe more than one cause they support). If yes, I would guess it is likely have one or more partners that also support that specific or general type of charity (or if they don’t they might be interested in creating something, well, because you are).

Let’s use the NFL’s support of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month as an example. They do a fantastic job of bringing a tremendous amount of focus to breast cancer organizations during a time of heightened awareness. They don’t work with one specific charity per se, but you don’t have to be looking too closely at the TV screen to see everything is PINK. From player gloves and special merchandise, to shoes (thanks to some of the athletic companies…), etc., you see PINK in every frame of action during the month of October. At the team level this translates to either general awareness or partnerships with specific charitable organizations that raise money for research to fight breast cancer. Also at the team level you see them working with their brand partners in-stadium to promote special programming or highlight what the brands are doing in their efforts to support breast cancer awareness.

Overall this is a comprehensive way to showcase support of a general awareness, from the top down, and nowadays all of the major leagues are supporting a variety of charities, from breast cancer awareness, military/veterans and Movember, to literacy, general cancer fundraising/awareness, Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, etc. It isn’t clear how many of the properties are actively incorporate their partners or selling the inventory, but I would hope that the teams are taking these concepts out to both new and existing partners to see how their partners can get more involved (read between the lines this could mean more revenue for the property), and also to see which existing partners already support one or more of the chosen charities.

If you aren’t already incorporating this concept into your regular programs, I highly encourage you to start now. Of course the longer lead time you have, the better and more comprehensive the programming will be, so I do recommend taking the following steps to get started:

For Properties:
1 – Take stock of your current charitable programs. Where are the opportunities to get brand partners involved?
2 – Proactively ask your brand partners if they are affiliated with any official charities/what organizations they support.
3 – Proactively ask your brand partners if there are any synergies with the charities your property supports.
4 – Share the event calendar with your brand partner as soon as you have the information so they can begin strategizing with you.
5 – Dive deeper and ask the brand questions such as – Have any of your employees been affected by this? (ie. cancer survivors, etc.), Can these employees be incorporated somehow? What regular brand programs can be organically included in property programming?

For Brands:
1 – Proactively share your company’s charitable affiliations with your property contacts so they are aware in the event opportunities arise in the future.
2 – Proactively ask your property contact what charitable programming they have planned for the year and if there is a calendar that outlines the timing.
3 – Proactively ask the property to brainstorm ways you can work together and align your charitable affiliations/goals from year to year.

Anytime a property can organically incorporate a brand into its on and off-field charitable programming, the more of a win-win it becomes for both parties as well as their fans/customers. After all, it is this deep level of integration and brand runoff that keeps brands coming back for more.

I wish you luck with this endeavor, and in the meantime I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy some fireworks and check out how MLB and its teams handles their July 4th celebrations!

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