Beyond Sponsorship: The New
Paradigm, Where Brands & Artists Meet
Moderator: Joe Killian, Momentum
Mike Windsor, Creative Artists Agency
Paul Sewell, House of Blues Concerts
Mathew Knowles, MusicWorld Entertainment / Sanctuary Urban Holding
Joe Killian opened the panel stating it would be an “overview
of where sponsorship is going and the integration of brands that
are both corporate brands and artist brands – and sometimes
the fit of those two brands together.” With that, the war
When setting up and planning a sponsorship deal, there’s an
important thing one should know, according to CAA’s Mike Windsor:
Brands need to be aligned with the right kind of acts, he explained,
citing a deal with Abercrombie & Fitch’s Hollister clothing
“We came up with a music program called ‘12 Days of
Rock,’” he said. “In late October and Christmas,
we had a series of in-store, after-hours concerts. They drew such
large numbers that we ended up having to beam them to large plasma
screens outside the stores.”
With a target audience of younger, upscale kids, Windsor added that
he was “extremely selective” about which bands were
picked, choosing mostly up-and-coming acts.
“About 1,500 people showed up for Ryan Cabrera,” he
continued. “It turned into a party outside with people who
wanted to watch this small, private concert.”
It was so successful, in fact, that Hollister exceeded all sales
goals in the fourth quarter, which is the time when clothing companies
make or break their entire year. More importantly, Hollister did
the event without any advertising or discounts – something
unheard of in the clothing industry, Windsor said.
“This was a case – on a small scale – that if
you align the brands right and you know your target audience, and
you put it all together, you can have a great impact for the corporation.
It was a very different way for a company to market itself.”
After mentioning the importance of “brand fit,” “brand
relevance” and sustaining a long relationship in the sponsorship
world, House of Blues Concerts’ Paul Sewell shared an interesting
story pertaining to a General Mills / Christina Aguilera deal-gone-wrong.
General Mills execs were floored after hearing Aguilera’s
“Beautiful” and wanted to put the single in about 8
million boxes of Cheerios cereal.
“We’re two days going to contract and I get a call from
Irving (Azoff’s) office saying, ‘You’ve got to
come here now,’” Sewell said.
To his surprise, RCA Records had called and revealed that the tentative
title track of the singer’s yet-to-be-released album was “Dirrty.”
“Obviously, we couldn’t generate the deal with General
Mills. The rest was history: The song came out, the album did well,
the video did well, but it just wasn’t right for a brand fit.”
manager for daughter Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child, Mathew
Knowles offered an inside peek on how he structures deals with major
corporations like McDonald’s and Pepsi.
“When we put out a record, I want to build a marketing budget
with those albums,” he said, adding that he doesn’t
like to depend on the record label alone.
With Beyoncé’s single “Crazy In Love,”
Knowles used Pepsi as a device to market the song right before it
went to radio. Pepsi added $40 million to what would have been a
$3 million budget, he said.
“We try to make sure we build partners as we release records.
... And the key is that it has to be a win-win for everyone.”
And before he makes any deal, Knowles said there must be a “major”
meeting between him, his artist, and the president and CEO of the
company he’s working with.
“Once you have that up front, it makes it so much easier,”
he explained. “They understand our philosophy, we understand
During the Q&A portion of the panel, an audience member asked,
“How do you structure a sponsorship that’s going to
get the outcomes you’re looking for and not get a push-back
that it’s too corporate?”
Killian answered with a story about Michelle Branch and large discount
department store Kohl’s.
The company discovered that young girls (5-12) would buy clothes
at Kohl’s but once they turned 13, they would buy from stores
like Hollister, Gap, Old Navy and Abercrombie & Fitch. Yet,
Kohl’s had many of the same brands for 30 percent less.
“The challenge was, let’s get an association with an
artist that brings the girls into the stores – especially
in a period of time called ‘Back-to-School,’”
As Kohl’s wanted to maintain an image of being “cool
but not edgy,” the Wisconsin-based retailer brought in Branch.
They featured the singer on the cover of almost 100 million weekly
circulars, which branded her album and included a coupon.
“You go into the store and there was a variety of prizes including
gift cards, and the grand prize was that Michelle Branch would come
to your junior high or high school and do a performance,”
Killian said. “And the young girl would be a hero.”
The hour-long panel concluded with audience questions on topics
ranging from finding sponsorship in smaller regions to getting the
attention of larger corporations. Answers stressed the importance
of knowing your demographic.