What are the latest activation and sales strategies at the country’s largest sports properties? What are they doing to add value?

IEG SR spoke with sponsorship sales executives at the MLS Chicago Fire and The PGA Tour, each of which is taking a new and distinct approach to addling value.  

The key takeaway: Properties should move away from selling sponsorship assets in favor of integrated marketing solutions.

Below, two approaches by the Chicago Fire and PGA Tour:

Chicago Fire Ignites Integrated Marketing Platforms
Move over ROI, CPMs and other marketing acronyms. The Chicago Fire has introduced a new acronym to the sponsorship industry: IMA.

The acronym stands for ‘integrated marketing approach,’ a strategy that focuses on offering multi-faceted marketing solutions.

“Our strategy for 2012 and beyond is to offer marketing solutions that cross multiple assets for a total solution,” said Dave Beck, the Fire’s vice president of corporate partnerships.

Case in point: The Fire’s new multi-year tie with Nicor Gas centers around “Take the Pledge,” a campaign that encourages consumers to reduce energy consumption. The utility will support the program by presenting the team’s April 28 game and distributing marketing collateral at Toyota Park.

Nicor promoted the sponsorship and educational campaign in a bill insert mailed to 2.2 million customers throughout the state of Illinois.

The Fire also has developed an IMA tie with the Quaker Oats Co., the team’s new jersey sponsor.

Representatives from Nicor and Quaker Oats discussed their IMA partnerships at the Fire’s Feb. 7 sponsor summit at the Swissotel Chicago, said Beck.

“We had more than 50 partners hear about some of the new approaches that we’re taking.”

PGA Tour Takes Proactive Approach To Activation
The PGA Tour over the past few years has placed more focus on including activation platforms as part of its sales pitch.

That effort has seen the pro golf tour move away from playing up brand fit and sponsorship assets in favor of demonstrating how a partnership can be activated to accomplish a prospect’s marketing objectives.

“In the past, many times we would work out a deal and then figure out some of the big activation elements. Now the trend is figuring out major programs ahead of time,” said Rob Ohno, the PGA Tour’s senior vice president of corporate marketing.

The strategy plays into the PGA Tour’s new partnership with Avis Budget Group, Inc. and the company’s presenting sponsorship of the PGA Tour Player of the Month award. The two organizations this year redesigned the program to allow fans to vote for their favorite player on PGATour.com

“The program was contemplated before we had a deal. It showed Avis how they could leverage the partnership as opposed to figuring out details after the deal was signed.” 

The Player of the Month award supports Avis’ interest in an ownable marketing platform and the company’s “We Try Harder” tagline, said Ohno.