A few weeks ago my Mom was visiting and she made a comment about how thin I was looking (probably an obligation to say to a new mommy, but I’ll take it!); and apparently I took that as a green light to eat half a bag of Hershey kisses… not sure what it is with me and chocolate these days. Needless to say, they tasted like Heaven as I was popping them in my mouth, but after a short while I began to realize the damage I had done. My poor stomach felt like I’d eaten a brick, and since I’ve been off of caffeine for a while I felt a little like a crack addict for the night. One look at the remainder of that bag of chocolate and I might have puked. With a solemn vow never to touch chocolate again, the experience went down in the books as a bad decision and I cut up some carrots and celery for the next day. Granted my solemn vow lasted about 2 days, but hey, memories are fickle things, aren’t they? I can’t help but consider the fact that sponsorship can bring on similar results with “over the top” activation, and unfortunately those kinds of memories don’t wear off in two days.
Let’s face facts: We live in a culture of people who are tired of playing games, tired of “in your face” marketing, and won’t tolerate loud sponsorship. People like down to earth, transparent, genuine and thoughtful experiences with brands. No one wants to feel manipulated, they want to feel invited; they don’t want to feel like your brand exploded on the scene, they want their experience improved. Consumers don’t care about a brand that doesn’t care about their consumer; so if you’ve implemented a marketing strategy that is clearly tinged with selfish intentions, people will likely avoid you like that bag of chocolate after an over indulgence. This is yet another reason why logos are no longer the optimal activation effort. While you still want to be recognized for your effort, you don’t want to be so loud that your voice drowns out the rest of the experience. It’s kind of like those sweet teenagers that pull up next to you windows down, blasting their music so loud you can feel the vibrations a block away. Were they noticed? Yep. But the majority of the onlookers aren’t likely smiling and singing along. In the same breath, not taking appropriate steps to be recognized for how your brand impacted an experience leaves you open to ambush marketing – someone will take credit if you don’t. It’s like going to a wedding and leaving a knock your socks off gift, and then not signing your name. If you don’t claim the gift as the giver, surely someone will.
Consider the fact that people simply don’t like feeling like they were tricked or manipulated into feeling something. If you can activate a partnership in a way that is transparent and genuine, leaving no guessing games as to your true intentions, you’ve scored some quality points with the exposure you gave your brand. And the memories (which really do last), will result in loyalty, a positive brand perspective, and an invitation to continue a relationship; which is a definite sponsorship win. So if you ever find yourself in a place where you wonder if you’re going over the top, just tell yourself; “put down the chocolate.”