Sponsorship, through the sponsoring of an event for example, as always been an efficient way to promote numerous of products. Thanks to it, you can create a link between the brand and the customer. In some case, the sponsorship will simply be some POS material or a naming, when in other ones, it can comes with stands, sales points, or creatives elements like for example what Perrier have set up during the French tennis open: A sound of a can opening and an “aaaaah” of satisfaction after enjoying a refreshing drink!
The plain water industry is one where differentiate yourself is a real challenge. Customers can’t really recognize the taste of a brand or an other… Are you now thinking “yes I can!” or have you in mind a one of this numerous friend saying “of course I can recognize Evian!”? Well, I advise you to set up a small blind test, and you will really fast understand that in reality, no. It is not that obvious… The differentiation you think you can build on products is actually on something else: Branding.
Branding is a really decisive and key element of a strategy. What you generally want to set up is a brand identity. To do so, you have numerous tools. Sponsorship is one on them.
The first step is to chose what you want to sponsor. It could be an international event, it could be a celebrity, a golf player, local event or associations, you have a lot of choice! What you need to understand is what image you would like your customer to have, and them to make your choice with this logic in mind. For example, if your brand is an high-end one, and you want it to come with an idea of prestige, you probably better go with a golf or fashion event than the local non-professional football team. Your positioning define what you aim for and narrow a lot your relevant possibilities.
Let’s take the example of Evian. This brand slogan is “Live Young”. Through this you understand that the ideas of life, dynamism, healthy come with it. What can gather all of that? Sport. Then, you need to understand that each sport have its own image. When I say football, golf, tennis, rugby, for each one you could picture in your mind the typical non professional player and the typical fan. Close your eyes and try to do it for each of the sport mentioned just above.
Now you understand that associating your brand with a sport is something important and have be though. Evian, decided to go with tennis. Tennis have an image of prestige, but not as high as the golf. Tennis is in between golf and football for example. Tennis is really popular and have stars with a large number of fans and transmit a image of performance, mental, health, and young in a sense since it is one of the sport the most popular among young people.
Because of this, Evian decided to go with sponsorship in tennis. Even if this is a French brand, Roland Garros was already taken by Perrier. They do sparkling water, but having both on the same event would have been strange for customer and not really efficient. What we can add is that Evian is already really high in people mind in France, and their focus was more on abroad. This is why they sponsored Wimbledon (the English open) and the US open. Though this 2 huge events, followed by millions of people, Evian was able to increase its brand awareness and to do better in branding by associating the image of the event to its product, though a kind of transmission process.
An other things Evian have done is celebrity endorsement. To do so, you need to be aware of the culture on the market your target, and to pick up a celebrity sharing the values you want to promote. It have to be coherent with your product. Then, you will through advertisement try to transmit the image of the celebrity people have to your product. And then, you will deliver this image to customer with your product.
Evian did that with Stan Wawrinka, the Swiss tennis player. Wawrinka endorsed the brand and its image of performance, trustable and good person was exactly something Evian would build on. It has been really successful according to studies made by the brand itself.
Partnerships can sometimes open on others, since the one with Wawrinka lead to one with the Swiss team of tennis.