||Cause For Celebration: Party City Establishes Sponsorship Program
Properties Must Offer Chain Targeted Audience, Visibility Platforms and Seasonal and In-Store Promotion Opportunities
Looking to become top of mind for pro sports fans planning TV viewing and tailgating parties, as well as moms throwing kids' celebrations, Party City Corp. has launched its first-ever sponsorship initiative.
The discount party supplies retailer has dropped an estimated low seven figures this year on multiyear deals with eight pro sports properties, including a partnership announced this week with Madison Square Garden and tenants the NBA New York Knicks and NHL New York Rangers.
Party City tested sponsorship in 2008 with a tie to the NFL Denver Broncos, around which it sponsored a tailgate zone and the team's junior cheerleading squad.
With the exception of that former deal and a current partnership with the NHL Florida Panthers, the company has focused on properties located near its Rockaway, N.J. headquarters. Party City's other 2010 sponsorships are with the MLB New York Yankees, NBA New Jersey Nets and NFL New York Giants and Jets.
The company's partnerships are not limited to sports; it also has expanded its use of cause marketing.
Party City last month announced a new partnership with Keeping Babies Safe, a nonprofit charged with raising awareness about unsafe cribs and sleep environments. That agreement follows existing ties with the American Heart Assn.'s Go Red for Women campaign and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
The retailer -- which operates roughly 600 company-owned and franchised outlets in the U.S. and Puerto Rico --intends to tap into consumer passions and drive sales through its partnerships.
The company believes it can accomplish that objective by taking the following three steps:
Build awareness among target audiences. Party City is using its partnerships with pro sports teams and nonprofits to reach two key audience segments: sports fans who need party supplies for tailgating and viewing parties, and mothers who purchase goods for birthday parties, holiday celebrations and other special events.
The company's sports ties are able to target both segments, and Party City is activating some of those deals with family-targeted programs. For example, the retailer is kicking off its MSG partnership by presenting the December 12 Knicks Kids Day. Party City also will present the Rangers' annual kids day.
"The opportunity to engage families and sports fans in arena, as well as provide inspiration for the ultimate in-home viewing parties with our incredible selection of party supplies, is an exciting new venue for Party City," said Lisa Laube, Party City president.
The MSG partnership also affords sponsorship of arena post-game celebrations, a platform that supports the retailer's product offering, said Greg Elliott, senior vice president of marketing partnerships, MSG Sports.
The company is activating other team ties with the Party City Tailgate Patrol and Tent, which distributes free team-themed merchandise and offers photos and face painting to young fans.
In South Florida, where the retailer is presenting sponsor of the Panthers 2010-11 season, it also has entitlement of the party rooms at the Saveology.com Iceplex, the team's practice facility, which is often rented for birthday celebrations. Party City also is sponsor of the in-game birthday feature and the post-game celebration during home Panthers games at the BankAtlantic Center.
Build visibility during key sales periods. The partnerships provide Party City a year-round promotional platform that can be activated during key sales seasons, including Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, spring graduation and Halloween.
Case in point: In October, the company leveraged its Panthers partnership by showcasing Halloween costumes on a 30-foot wall in the main lobby of the BankAtlantic Center. Customers could order the costumes through Party City's on-site kiosks.
The retailer also plans to run promotions during the team's four games around the Christmas and New Year's holidays, said Pedro Goncalves, executive vice president and chief marketing officer with team owner Sunrise Sports & Entertainment.
Gain in-store promotional platforms. Party City also is using sponsorship assets to create promotions that drive store traffic and spur interest at the point of sale.
For example, it is activating its Giants tie with a text-to-win promotion offering VIP tickets to each home game. Consumers must visit one of the more than 75 Party City stores in the New York metropolitan area to learn the promotion's entry code.
The company also is activating the deal through a line of team-themed party supplies, including plates, reusable cups, napkins and table covers.
Party City primarily supports its cause partners through in-store fundraisers. For example, the company is soliciting donations for Keeping Babies Safe at the point of sale from November 15 through the end of the year.
The company supported Go Red for Women through a month-long promotion earlier this year in which it sold $1 paper hearts.
Bill Furtkevic, vice president of marketing, oversees the company's strategic partnerships. Tango, the sponsorship, partnership and promotional division of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Zimmerman Advertising, helps negotiate and activate sports ties.
(Source: IEG Sponsorship Report, 12/13/10)
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