By Suzy Aronstam, director, SPA.
Making sure a TV show and sponsor fit and work well together can be a difficult job. But our experience at SPA of working in the sector for many years has given us some key tips to help navigate your way through the processs.
1. Keep the message simple. You don’t have much time and viewers need to quickly grasp the message you’re trying to convey. That could for instance be brand image related or it can be an understanding of the relevance of that product to the programme.
2. ...And talking about a link to the programme: it might sound obvious, but make sure there is one. It can be a shared topic across the brand and the show or a shared time experience (think of Domino’s sponsoring the Simpsons, or a chocolate bar sponsoring a ‘me-time’ show).
Or it could even be a link to a character in a programme (main character a beer drinker? A beer brand is clearly a good fit). But either way, the link needs to make sense.
3. As well as making sure there’s a natural link, it also helps if there is a size-match between the sponsor and the show. It would be bizarre for Coronation Street to be sponsored by a tiny little start up brand, for example.
4. Don’t bore the viewers. Idents are necessarily short and so the message can’t be complicated, but it is something that a fan of the show will hear on a regular basis. Make sure that copy is rotated or that other changes are brought in from time to time.
5. Think about whether this is a tactical, short-term sponsorship, or a long-term deal. With a long-term sponsorship it doesn’t matter if the fit isn’t entirely right because over time, viewers will come to associate the brand with the programme almost automatically. With a short term deal, perhaps just lasting a season or a few months, it’s more important that the fit is spot on.
6. Don’t shy away from branding, particularly in low-interest categories such as insurance. If it’s not immediately clear who a sponsor is, consumer will simply remember that it was ‘some insurance brand’. This is once place where a big logo can be an advantage.
7. Be inventive and creative. Simply saying ‘this programme is sponsored by brand X’ is a meaningless turn-off. People may remember the sponsorship, but it’s unlikely they will think positively of it.
8. Be careful with humour. As well as not repeating jokes and copy you need to make sure anything you say is appropriate. The tone of the sponsorship needs to fit with the tone of the programme – and that means treading carefully with jokes.
9. Sponsorship works both ways. It’s not just about your brand benefitting from the positive association with a TV show, but also about that TV show’s values impacting on your brand. If a storyline is suddenly controversial or an actor central to the show goes off the rails and appears on the front pages of the tabloid press, you need to have a strategy in place. Brand value transfer works both ways.
10. And finally: it can help if advertising around at the same time links to the sponsorship. It doesn’t have to be a literal, in your face link, but perhaps something more subtle: a tone of voice, a colour palette or a character that crosses over. That way, the impact of both is multiplied.
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