Dec 29, 2009 at 03:37 PM
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Social Media Proves Perfect Partner for Expedition Marketing

With traditional media barriers eroding in favor of a more democratic social media landscape, one unlikely benefactor may be adventurers and explorers. Limited media exposure from traditional mediums like print and broadcast made them a tough sell to sponsors in the past, but today expeditions can be promoted and tracked up to the minute to a global audience of adventure fans online.

In today's LA Times, Dan Neil profiles Hewlett-Packard's sponsorship of an upcoming expedition to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro's 19,340 foot summit. Neil writes:

Promotional efforts suggest a trend in what might be called expedition marketing. This is the era of Discovery Channel-style, extreme adventure entertainment -- Bear Grylls living off spiders in the Kalahari, Matt Watson jumping from a helicopter onto a sailfish, great races hither and yon. And causes and companies seem to be ever more willing to go to the ends of the Earth to get attention back home.

Unlike other sports, social media is THE primary activation component of HP's sponsorship. At fans can follow climber tweets, blogs and videos and even sponsor a foot of the climb themselves, in support of the cause tie-in - the global water crisis.

Neil continues:

HP will equip climbers with its Light and Thin notebook computers to handle the social media tasks, while the base camp will be fitted with high-power HP desktops and media servers.

This is by no means the first time a tech company has sponsored a climb. Dell, Apple and Microsoft have all been to the top of Everest, along with a lot of other Fortune 500 brand names. But with its constant, boots-on-the-ground updating, this might be the most socially mediated climb ever attempted. As such, it's brilliant positioning for HP and Windows,which are waging a war of cultural attrition against the presumably hipper, younger, more social Mac.

Why is expedition marketing surpassing traditional leagues in their social media sophistication? It may have something to do with the bureaucracy, approvals, rules and rights hurdles that league partners generally must obtain to try new social media activation strategies.

However, when it comes to social media, the most agile properties may be likely to find more success with sponsorship pitches. Not only in the tech category, but across the board in general. Perhaps then, it makes perfect sense that adventurers pioneer the new frontier of partnership activation, as well.