Rohit Bhargava, who has been a recent guest blogger here with his dispatches from Beijing, brings up a very relevant issues for sponsors with his post today regarding Visa’s Olympic sponsorship. Let me state right up front that my agency, Taylor, has represented MasterCard for many years and I have been directly involved in PR aspects of many of MasterCard’s global sports sponsorships, including the 2002 and 2008 FIFA World Cups.
There are several reasons why Visa, or MasterCard, would want exclusivity at an event, and they aren’t all related directly to sales on-site at the event. But Rohit’s overall point is valid, and not just for credit card companies. The changing communications landscape means brands must have a different relationship with consumers than they had just a few years ago. One of the key changes is the need to work with consumers and to recognize that consumers have a choice – and that that choice may not be you sometimes. The smartest brands understand the critical issue of providing long term value even at the potential expense of short term gain. Bloggers are a great example of that. Rohit works for another PR agency but I link to him often. Why, because I know that readers of this blog will appreciate my efforts to help educate them, even when that means directing them elsewhere. People are too smart today to be fooled into thinking one agency/consultant/expert has all the answers.
Similarly, brands must understand that they can’t always meet all their consumer’s needs. I can’t drink Coke every time I’m thirsty and I can’t get all my clothes from Banana Republic. But if Coke and BR can provide me with value in other ways I’m more likely to come back to them when I can. Exclusivity is a tough concept in today’s consumer-centric world, it’s time to think about trying a new tactic.