||For New Year's Eve, The Tie-Ins Erupt
Surely there is no moment when more Americans lock lips than at midnight on Dec. 31, when a kiss marks the New Year, and that is why Nivea Lip Care ties its biggest marketing effort of the year to New Year's Eve.
For the third consecutive year, Nivea was an official sponsor of the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square, and along with sponsoring a stage called the Nivea Kiss Platform, it handed out about 30,000 samples of lip balm to revelers in the hours before the countdown.
"The brand is based on the insight that something wonderful happens when skin touches skin and humans connect, and the New Year's Eve kiss sets the tone for the new year to come," said Magnus Jonsson, vice president for marketing at Beiersdorf, parent company for Nivea.
This year, Nivea also held a contest on its Facebook page where couples in long-distance relationships vie for a chance to win a free trip to New York to be reunited in Times Square on New Year's, with two couples who garnered the most votes on Facebook winning.
Nivea is among a bevy of sponsors for this year's celebration, produced jointly by the Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment. But sponsorship is not open to just any company willing to write a check.
"We look for sponsors that can be organically integrated in our event, and there are some sponsors that we say no to because it's not a natural fit," said Jeffrey Straus, president of Countdown Entertainment. "This is first and foremost a civic event for New York City and sponsors have to tie into that event without it being a commercial message."
The most obvious example, of course, is the crystal ball that descends on Times Square for the countdown, which does not have a logo festooned on it but is known by even casual television viewers to be provided by Waterford Crystal.
Nearly as prominent as the ball are the numerals that light up to mark the dawning year, and Duracell, the battery brand, is hoping to become similarly synonymous. For the third consecutive November, the brand set up what it calls the Duracell Power Lab in Times Square, which consists of four stationary bikes that when pedaled charge batteries that will subsequently be used to light the sign.
This year the bikes were housed in a trailer that for the rest of the year will be deployed to disaster areas, where it will provide charging stations for items including cellphones, laptops, and rechargeable batteries.
When a camper who hears a rustling outside the tent reaches for a flashlight, the batteries had better work, and Bob Jacobs, marketing director for Duracell, a Procter & Gamble brand, said the moment when numerals light up in Times Square functions as "a large-scale analogy" for consumers.
"We talk a lot about people trusting Duracell when it just has to work," said Mr. Jacobs. When the numerals light up, "it's that one iconic moment of the holiday season when millions of people are watching and it's a great association for Duracell batteries being trusted in an important moment," Mr. Jacobs said.
The Times Square Alliance estimates that one million people attend the New Year's Eve festivities. A Trylon Strategic Media Relations study commissioned by the group pegged the international audience at more than one billion.
This is the first year for several sponsors, including Get Married Media, which publishes Get Married magazine and hosts a Web site, GetMarried.com. The company held a contest for a New Year's Eve wedding in Times Square, with the winning couple receiving not just a trip to New York but also a wedding gown, wedding bands and a honeymoon in the Dominican Republic.
Bethany Phillips and Geoffrey Dubie, a couple from Jacksonville, Fla., who met while serving as Marines in Iraq, won the contest, and their wedding was featured live on LED screens in Times Square as they took their vows there.
"The holiday season is one of the biggest times of the year for people to get engaged, and about 70 percent of the New Year's Eve television viewers are 19 to 35, and that is kind of the bridal target," said Anita Brady, president of Get Married Media, which is based in Atlanta.
Another new sponsor, MasterCard, donated $1 for every transaction with one of its credit cards in Times Square to Stand Up To Cancer, which pays for cancer research. About 90 businesses, from American Eagle Outfitters to The Westin hotel, participated, and MasterCard donated up to $1.5 million during the promotion, which began on Nov. 26 and ended Jan. 1.
A marketing campaign to promote the fund-raiser, by the Robertson Schwartz Agency, reached inbound tourists with public service ads on Virgin America flights, at New York airports, at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, on videos in cabs and, naturally, on the two large Toshiba screens in Times Square itself.
Leading up to New Year's, another sponsor, Cintas, the document management company, hosted Good Riddance Day on Dec. 28 in Times Square.
Participants were encouraged to bring items like pictures of old flames or bosses, credit card statements, and report cards -- and to feed them into paper shredders provided by Cintas.
The first in line was Tiffany Bradley, of Knoxville, Tenn., who won an online contest for a free trip to New York based on the documents she wished to shred: medical bills from a life-threatening operation she had in 2009 and paid off in 2010.
"Shredding these bills would represent finally having them paid off and would be a great way to celebrate my recovery," Ms. Bradley wrote in her winning entry. "It has taken forever, but I actually feel like myself again."
(Source: The New York Times, 12/14/10)
What's In It For You:
"Relevance" is this year's buzzword when it comes to sponsorship prospecting. Your campaign has to be relevant to the brand or product in order to get buy-in from a sponsoring company. So, too, must the product or brand have relevance for the consumers that listen to your station to get buy-in from them as well.
Eyeballing campaigns like the Times Square New Year's Eve bash is a terrific means of seeing what sponsors are seeking from properties and ways they are looking to promote their products and brands. And it lends itself beautifully to a lucrative strategy I call "R&D": Rip Off & Duplicate.
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