I’ve been working on a little side project lately that has given rise to interesting theory on sponsorship, thanks in no small part to a breakthrough performance by a Canadian athlete.
This past weekend, Erin Mielzynski, 21, of Guelph, Ontario ended a 41-year drought for Canadian women in the World Cup slalom event by winning the latest race in Otterschwang, Germany. A great performance and a heart-warming story. Surprisingly, this event was widely covered by the media with a front-page feature in the Sports section of the Globe & Mail and highlights on TSN, among others.
The only people more thrilled than Erin’s parents are the folks from Polar Securities. Yes, Polar Securities. Never heard of them? Now you have. In fact, millions of people have, thanks to their sponsorship of young Erin, a fact proudly displayed on her helmet and post-race toque.
This is what I might call micro sponsorship. Polar Securities obviously took a chance on this young athlete, putting their trust – and dollars – on her abilities in a sport that few watch and fewer still participate in. Now if Polar Securities possess strong social media strategy, execution and activation, they can amplify this story well beyond the boundaries of family and friends of Ms. Mielzynski. Speaking personally, I’ve been working with a team of two similar athletes (at least in profile) who participate in Crashed Ice, an event that is still trying to find an audience. That being said, Team Croxall – Kyle & Scott – are the very best at this sport in the world. Yes, the world! The events are broadcast nationally on Rogers Sportsnet and the World Championships attract over 100,000 spectators. Today, the Team Croxall appeared on both Canada AM and The Fan590 sports radio in Toronto. In other words, there’s great media exposure and athletes who display all-Canadian values.
You think sponsors are lining up at the door? Think again. My point? I think micro sponsorship – here, in the form of relatively unknown athletes – could be the best value in marketing today. Smart sponsors should be looking out for these kind of opportunities and leveraging them with terrific social media and activation strategies. To say nothing of the economic value these micro sponsorships offer, the stories behind the sponsorships are more compelling, more interesting…and more share-able. And that’s where micro sponsorships can deliver maximum benefit.