May 12, 2009 at 03:58 PM
written by Jim Loria

Key Learnings: Finding Activation Ideas in Unlikely Places!

Photobucket Today we're kicking off our "Key Learnings" blog series, which will be a regular collection of insights and stories from thought-leaders within the sponsorship industry. Today's key learning comes from Jim Loria who has over 30 years of sports management experience and for the past 10 years as served as President of the USHL's Sioux Falls Stampede.

"One of the best sponsorship ideas I've ever created involved Kraft Foods in Kansas City, MO years ago. Their goal was to sell product. Mine was to sell tickets. My young daughter, bless her heart, one day, spilled a box of Macaroni & Cheese out of the cupboard and out of that we created a "Noisemaker Night" promotion!

The innert elements to the sponsorship worked this way: We brought in the Food Bank as the outlet to receive all donations after finding out from my research that this group worked very closely with Kraft in their community initiatives. We secured the retail partners for shelf space and media partners for supplying free promotional advertising. Each element was included into the package. The event SOLD a "Semi Trailer" load of Macaroni & Cheese boxes over a two week period, so Kraft & the retailer were thrilled to say the least!

The fans were told upon arrival at the arena to mark their Section/Seat/Row numbers on each of their Macaroni & Cheese boxes. The fans kept the boxes with them (or at least a few in hand). They SHOOK the boxes to create a whopping Noisemaker effect when we scored goals. To take away any potential "fan tossing incident", we made the fans deposit their boxes at the designated Food Bank Barrel locations once the second period in the hockey game came to an end.

The Food Bank operation's crew had donation barrels placed at each arena entrance and throughout the concourse. Volunteers were staffed everywhere with plenty of writing pens on hand to assist the fans. What sold this event to the public was the prizes!

During the game, we randomly chose one Macaroni & Cheese box from each portal entrance & concourse (10 total) and announced our prize winners (from the markings of Sec/Row/Seat numbers on the packages). The prizes were:

>>> 10 Pair of Season Tickets x 2 per winner were given away at this game. So, the club sold "20 packages" through the sponsorship package! Key: DO THE EVENT EARLY IN THE SEASON, AT LEAST BY THE FIRST WEEK OF NOVEMBER! With the Thanksgiving Holiday coming, a great wrap around for the Food Bank as they would be in big need to stock their pantries at this time of year! Plus, more mind awareness for the consumer to want to reach out and contribute! Media loved the event - it was unique and every fan in the audience can participate, which we all know, those events are the crown jewels for game entertainment!

END RESULT: Because of the retail opportunity and community goodwill, Kraft Foods invested in our club quite nicely - and it was signed off in just one meeting!! The area manager at that time was recognized for sales promotional efforts from this event! The next year, my rep had Maxwell Coffee Brand dollars given to him if we could develop a similar retail idea ... that's another success story for another day!"

Jim can be reached at loria@sfstampede.com. If you are interested in contributing your key learnings, shoot us an email at info@sponsorpitch.com