Brand Story: Wrigley’s says Sayonara CMO; Sponsorships, etc.


Why do I care to write about Wrigley’s? Maybe it’s because I currently live in their home base city of Chicago. – their prime billboard real estate serves as a reminder every time I drive home – not to mention the whole stadium thing. Or it could be due to the fact that one of my evangelical product obsessions is 5 gum in the Cobalt flavor. A bad childhood habit of biting my nails has been replaced with incessant gum chewing – and my grandmother will you tell you it’s arguably a worse habit. Either way, Wrigley’s has become relevant to more people than just me because of the recent decision to eliminate their CMO position and the resulting flood of media coverage.

This news, along with recent personal work-related marketing conversations around corp comm, sparked a memory of seeing a 5 gum sponsorship banner on the TechCrunch Meetup Seattle event webpage. I was thrilled to see my favorite gum brand supporting this tech event and even clicked through the link to land on their intense, Myst/Mission Impossible-hybrid inspired website. It was the first time in a while that brand affinity conquered my banner blindness on a sponsor sidebar.

Remember the last conference you went to for work: What name was on the lanyard you wore throughout the entire conference? You probably have no idea. You didn’t know the company then, and you don’t know it now. Sponsorships are a tough bet because they are not measurable. You can estimate impressions and try to align your sponsorship opportunity with a group or cause that has shared interests but regardless of how targeted you get, sponsorships are a passive form of advertising. “Pay this, your name goes here.” It’s too easy.

My 5 gum example contradicts that thought because my belief is that sponsorships are the most valuable as a brand reinforcement opportunity not as an introduction. You need to already be implanted in a person’s memory bank so they can recall and make the connection that you are relevant. Then it all makes sense to the consumer. In the 5 gum example, the reinforcement worked to remind me a) that I really did love this gum brand, and b) they are a “cool” brand that cares to support this “cool” tech event.

– Sponsor events for an audience that is relevant to your brand.
– Be as present as possible (physically, as in BE THERE, hand out your gum/other product, sponsor a Cobalt themed cocktail at a happy hour, etc.) to avoid a passive advertising brand trap.
– Don’t try to use a sponsorship as an opportunity to introduce yourself to people. They are busy, flooded with competing messaging and information from more established brands with deeper pockets.

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