Posts by Sharon Panelo - New York

Nostalgia, hometown heroes and managing the risk of athlete endorsements

yogi_berraSports branding and sponsorships are forecast to be the fastest-growing component of global sports market spending over the period 2009-2013, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. But after the lost endorsement costs of Tiger Woods, anxious brands are looking for ways to hedge the risk of featuring star athletes. “The only safe athlete is one whose story is complete,” noted Sports Illustrated in the early days of the Woods scandal.

Accordingly, some brands are looking to athletes with nostalgic appeal. A new campaign from iXP Corp., a U.S. firm that consults on emergency-response systems, features Yogi Berra and illustrates, according to The New York Times, “the consistent demand among marketers for endorsers—particularly athletes—who have proven themselves over the long term.” Other safe bets the Times cites include Cal Ripken Jr., Joe Montana and Jack Nicklaus.

Other brands are diversifying their endorsement portfolios with “hometown heroes” who can drive timely regional campaigns. New online services like Brand Affinity Technologies are helping to disrupt the traditional endorsement model—based on national campaigns and six-figure deals—by connecting regional athletes with advertisers, enabling quick creation of lower-cost local campaigns. When the Detroit Red Wings advanced to the Stanley World Cup finals last year, for example, within days Ford was featuring team captain Nicklas Lidstrom in an online campaign for the Fusion targeted to Detroit.

Photo Credit: terryballard

Extreme couponing lightens up

Extreme couponing was a common theme of last year’s recession news, with stories of cash-strapped consumers clipping their way to deep discounts. Now, the “find great deals” site Groupon is putting a tongue-in-cheek twist on that survivalist spirit with its Live Off Groupon promotion: One person will be chosen to “attempt to survive for one year with nothing but a laptop, cell phone and an unlimited supply of Groupons.” At stake is $100,000. groupon

CNET calls it “one of the most ridiculous social-media promotions that any brand has attempted to pull off.” Admittedly, the contest isn’t a real option for the average family squeezed by the economy. But judging by the response on Groupon’s site, it has struck a chord with some very excited people, what seems to be a young, mobile crowd who have more time than money on their hands (funemployment, anyone?). Groupon’s offer, with its promise of a cross-country adventure and a big dose of humor, is appealing to them—and a clever way to get this demographic onto the site.

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