Saturday, June 24, 2006

Measurement Meanderings

Who sponsors:


The NFL?

The World Cup

The US Open golf tournament

The recent Winter Olympics

The last NBA game you watched? (now that the season is mercifully over)

What is the official car, boat, deodorant or cereal of (supply the name of your favorite team)

What does Tiger Woods endorse?

What doesn’t he?

What events do Pepsi Cola, Verizon, and Coors respectively underwrite?

As marketers and students of advertising, we might know some of this if we like to play trivia games. My research strongly suggests that consumers in general (as well as most marketers and sports fans) do not. Nor have the sponsors or their agencies shown that endorsements and sponsorships increase sales.

Undaunted by such details Relay, sports-marketing unit owned by major ad agency Publicis Groupe has announced a “service” to evaluate the value of sports marketing programs. Relay’s primary business is sponsorship and event marketing, so one might question their independence as evaluators of such programs. Here’s what they Claim.

Mind you Relay doesn’t measure sales or even consumer perception but what they assert is a better measure of exposure. The real problem with relay’s evaluation, like much traditionally done by agencies, is that it measures output by input. That is, it adds up screen exposure using a proprietary methodology and presents the total as value regardless of whether the audience sees, remembers, or most importantly acts on what is displayed.

For example, their analysis concludes that Honda received the highest value of any of the sponsors of the latest Indy 500 race. Since auto racing has nothing to do with Honda’s brand image or its principal products. Where is the value.

Honda’s executives and large dealers may have been able to park their Civics and Fits and tool around the track wearing spandex suites in fulfillment of latent fantasies, but let’s not call this marketing.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Can Superman Handle the Pepsi Challenge?

Recently Pepsico has been running banner ads on Yahoo promoting a contest connected with the soon to be released summer movie – Superman Returns.

The promotion is an ambitious integrated marketing program combining point of purchase, special packaging, event marketing such as the Pepsi 400 stock car race, merchandising of toys from Mattel, and a video game from Electronic Arts. The promotion is further complicated by inclusion of Pepsi’s brand portfolio including Mountain Dew and Lay’s potato chips. Not content with empty calories, the man of steel’s return will also be promoted by Pepsi’s Quaker and Tropicana products such as (and I am not making this up) Superman Crunch: Cap'n Crunch cereal with Superman shield shapes that turn milk blue and four cheese pasta Superman limited edition Pasta Roni.

Executing such a program may indeed require super powers, but will its effects founder on the kryptonite of confusion?

Of course, if the movie is a hit it would help clear the end aisle displays coming to a WalMart near you. Superman in formats ranging from comic books to multimedia has proven to be a durable franchise. The promotion could thus be viable independent of the success of the movie. It’s less plausible that the product promotion will help the movie.

What in the long run (let’s say the fourth quarter) does this do for the brands involved? How durable is the effect of being Superman’s official high fructose or diet or low trans-fat or high soluble fiber snack? Can Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Sierra Mist and Mountain Dew all be super quenchers? What about Gatoraid?

We suspect the campaign may have a positive ROI but not a positive EROSI (enduring return on sweat invested). Once the sweep stakes are over and the action figures are gathering dust, the market and mind shares of Pepsi’s brands will not have grown.