In a few years time, brands will treat us like the Beckhams, but only if you’re hot enough
Ever since sponsorship and advertising became a core part of a successful B2C company, an essential part of a brands’ strategy has been to get their products in the hands of their top target audience. Millions of pounds has been spend on deals to net famous stars (Derrick Rose, point guard for the Chicago Bulls, just signed a $260 million deal with Adidas), often to great effect. The benefit of such deals are clear, huge sections of the brands audience can be targeted at once and not just in a 30 second TV slot, the deals can often last for over a decade.
Such deals are not alway harmonious however, Nike pulled out of their record $100 million sponsorship deal with Tiger Woods after his 2009 affair scandal. Why would a brand want to spend millions of dollars to be affiliated with a widely unliked celebrity?
Of course, sponsorship is not the only way brands boost their public image. In the 70’s VW’s were seen as unreliable rust buckets by many, so much so that in an effort to change perception the company spent millions buying old cars off the road and replacing them with nice shiny new ones, resulting in successfully changing public’s view.
As we continue through the digital age brands are increasingly required to interact with their audience on a more intimate level - Twitter hashtags and Facebook likes being the new brand currency. So why don’t brands spend that huge sponsorship budget on sponsoring the people who are most important to them, their core customers? According to ‘Sweating For Nike’ a pair of trainers costs $20 to make, meaning for the price Adidas paid Derrick Rose they could GIVE 13 million of their most loyal customers a new pair of trainers, for free.
This could be taken even further though, why not give discount to people depending on how closely they meet the brands idea of their perfect customer. Play Basketball? Check. Aged between 16-25? Check. High earner? Check. Race?! All this information is out there, on Facebook mostly, and is available to advertisers for a fee.
This is a pretty controversial, socialist take on sponsorship I know, but I thought it worth discussing. You could imagine some pretty pissed off people, angry that their friend was able to get a cheaper pair of trainers just because they are taller or better looking. But versions of this are already happening, all be it not quite in the same way. Take Abercrombie’s hiring policy of for example, who openly employ staff based on how perfectly the candidate matches the Abercrombie image, you walk into a store and you feel like you’re in a comercial. It even happens in nightclubs, how often are guys refused entry to a club only to have a group of scantily clad girls walk straight past the cue and get straight in?
The truth is that companies we love already have prejudices, albeit camouflaged under carefully constructed marketing campaigns. They know who they want to sell their product to, they even go to a lot of effort to target them, its just a matter of time until brands work out how go that extra step.