Joanna Marcovici, Director Corporate Strategy & Client Service
Sit down on my psychiatrist’s couch and tell me what’s troubling you. Better yet, what matters to you? I’ll tell you what’s on my mind: the traffic that slows me down in getting anywhere in this city. The snow that’s piled so high on my driveway we’ve lost our shih tzu – twice. And the condo that’s going up at the end of my street. (See point #1 above, re: traffic). What do these things have in common? They all affect me personally. And while I may be accused of being my own centre of the universe, unworldly, provincial…I don’t think I’m alone.
Brands that have that insight, capitalise on it, and leverage it right can have a huge impact on consumers’ affinity for their brand and likelihood to purchase their product. Pepsi’s Refresh Project nailed it years ago by inviting consumers to apply for grants to make a difference on projects happening right in their own communities. BMO does it by marrying each of their branches with a local soccer club, ensuring thousands of families know that BMO cares about their kids and their community. And when I do a local fundraiser or host a committee meeting for one of the causes I care about, to whom do I turn for sustenance in the form of donuts and coffee during the meeting? Tim Horton’s of course, because they care about me.
It’s the very basics of “grassroots” sponsorship, and it’s been around since the first local barber, bakery, or bike shop sponsored the team down the road. It’s a long haul for a major corporate brand to execute a strategy – one team, one community, at a time. The art is in finding ways to take a major national partnership and execute it efficiently at the community level, or conversely, a local partnership but tell the story on a national basis. There are some great examples of companies already doing both.