||Do-Over: Crocs Returns to Sponsorship Arena with Event Deals
After Focusing on Traditional Media, Footwear Marketer Returns to Event Marketing as a Platform to Gain On-Site Display and Sales Rights
Just as quickly as it left, Crocs, Inc. has gotten back into the sponsorship game.
The marketer of brightly-colored clogs and other footwear products will have a presence at roughly 35 local and regional events in 2011, including state fairs, food fests and other events that attract young families.
Crocs kicked off the initiative at the recent Zazzle Bay to Breakers 12K race in San Francisco. Other properties on its roster include the Indiana State Fair, Taste of Dallas, Milwaukee's Summerfest, Oregon's Portland Rose Festival and Michigan's Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival.
The company amassed a substantial sponsorship portfolio between 2006 and 2008, including title of the now-defunct AVP Tour and co-sponsorship of music festivals, motorsports events, endurance sports and other types of properties.
Although Crocs dropped those ties in 2009 at the height of the recession, the move was made to focus on more traditional forms of media, not because of the bad economy or financial problems, said Tim Gray, the company's senior sponsorship manager.
"It was a shift in marketing direction," he said. "We moved away from the experiential space in favor of more mainstream spending." Crocs did not significantly reduce its marketing budget during the downturn, he added.
Similar to its strategy three years ago, Crocs is largely using event marketing to gain one-on-one touch points and on-site sales rights. The company will use sponsored events to tout its expanding product line, including slip-on shoes for men, translucent shoes for women and a new line of Chameleon children's shoes that change color in the sun.
"We want to show how we are diversifying our brand from a product standpoint and let people know about some of our new summer and fall products," Gray said.
Crocs will offer free massages to incent traffic to its on-site display areas, Gray said, noting that massage reinforces Crocs' comfort positioning.
Where possible, the company prefers to access on-site display benefits without purchasing official sponsor status. "For us it is all about being on site," Gray said. "We are not looking for full-blown sponsorship opportunities." The company has bought official sponsorship packages when properties do not offer display rights a la carte, he noted.
Crocs spearheaded and manages its new sponsorship push in house. The company worked with Chicago-based agency Engage Marketing on sponsorship strategy and implementation through 2009.
(Source: IEG Sponsorship Report, 05/16/11)
How You Can Make Money:
This is one of those companies that makes the argument (the same one we've been making since '04) that presenting an 'a la carte' option along with sponsorship 'packages' yield lucrative payoffs. Yet, many stations are still prospecting with only Gold, Silver, and Bronze sponsorship purchase options. Yikes! If they want to purchase in-site sales rights, and other engagement/activation elements, let 'em -- as long as it adds relevance to the events and makes it more engaging for attendees.
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