Marketing deals that reach across worlds

Eyes are drawn to the sporting prowess of cyclists travelling more than 3400 kilometres in harsh alpine terrain and the world’s best ski jumpers leaping off a 138-metre platform. But when it comes to sporting events, the stars in the coloured jerseys are no longer the only ones making a visible impact. In a strategic move to market their brand to a broader global audience, Wega Macchine per caffè have become the official product partner of Cannondale Pro Cycling and the 2013 Trentino Fiemme Nordic Skiing World Championship. “Both [sporting events] are international players – exactly like Wega,” says Wega Macchine per caffè Managing Director Paolo Nadalet. “We firmly believe that these opportunities show our company policy towards values and purposes and they will also give us the chance to give our brand wider exposure on the international scene.” Previously, Wega has successfully used press advertisements, sponsorship deals, and national and international exhibitions to grow their brand awareness. Nadalet says the recent agreement, announced in early 2012, will allow Wega to increase their exposure in strategic markets, thanks to the international dimension of certain sports such as cycling, which, like Wega, operates in all seven continents. “We are convinced that, considering the inner characteristics of the world of coffee, events where people can meet and see our quality products with their own eyes are the best opportunities to take advantage of,” says Nadalet. From 20 February to 3 March 2013 in Val di Fiemme, Italy, the clearly identifiable Wega logo appeared on the Trentino Fiemme Nordic Skiing World Championship’s advertising channels and banners. The 12-day event attracted 400,000 spectators and saw widespread coverage on the internet, newspapers and social media channels. Wega set up 10 coffee islands around the venue, featuring the customised Wegaconcept in key areas including the cross-country skiing centre, public marquees and ski jump stadium. For 21 days from 4 – 26 May, Wega was also able to boast the title of official sponsor to the Cannondale Pro cycling team when it followed the team’s white-green jerseys from Naples to Brescia in Italy for the Giro d’Italia cycling race. Wega Mininova models were placed in the Cannondale motor homes, campers and logistical offices to guarantee both athletes and spectators had access to quality coffee in freezing weather conditions.  “[The athletes] used our machines every day,” says Nadalet. “We wanted to help them increase their energy to get through the race.”
Wega also organised daily hospitality for guests and clients to experience the atmosphere of the Giro d’Italia. Sport has long been a powerful tool for brands. Typically high profile sporting events such as the Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup and Formula 1 Moto GP attract car sponsorship, gas companies, phone companies, banks and food retailers. For a number of major brands, the chance of grabbing a share of a global audience’s attention is a unique business opportunity to promote themselves, build their reputation and develop deeper customer relationships. The cost of a 30-second television commercial during the 2013 Super Bowl was estimated to have cost between US$3.7 million and US$3.8 million. Brands such as Volkswagen, Calvin Klein, Hyundai Motor Group and Mars were attracted to this event, which drew a broadcast audience of more than 100 million people. For 14 days of sport, more than 4.8 billion people in 200 countries and territories tuned in to watch more than 100,000 hours of footage from the 2012 Olympic Games in London, according to the International Olympic Committee. This reach makes the Olympic Games one of the most sought-after and effective international marketing platforms in the world. With only 11 worldwide sponsorship opportunities available, brands such as Coca-Cola, Acer, GE and McDonalds each paid an estimated US$100 million for their prime position as worldwide sponsor. Pat Freeland-Small, Marketing and Communications Strategist at P5Strategic, says it’s no surprise a company such as Wega have chosen to align their marketing campaign with sporting events and sporting identities. “It’s a natural fit,” says Freeland-Small, a strategist of 20 years. “There’s already a strong category connection between coffee and cycling because cyclists are early morning coffee drinkers. Therefore when cyclists wear a brand logo or are seen using the brand’s product, they are effectively walking billboards.” Freeland-Small says this interactive method of advertising is effective because a large cohort of people see this branding. “Cycling and skiing are premium elite sporting activities and the idea is that people who support and enjoy these sports would also enjoy and fit in the coffee culture,” he says. “If the audience can see the high profile athletes using the product, then the cohort will tend to gravitate towards that brand because it’s deemed desirable.” In today’s strategic world of marketing, Freeland-Small says focusing on a brand’s correct demographic is critical to a campaign’s success. “It’s hard to pin the tail on a donkey blindfolded. Experienced marketers will have a sense of what will work with various market segments, but the most astute will also invest in some background research to really hone their campaigns,” he says. Unlike traditional forms of advertising such as billboard, radio and newspapers, which Freeland-Small says are at times fragmented in today’s multimedia society, it makes sense to target an event with global reach. “It’s very cost-effective. Choosing the right event for your brand is crucial to the brand’s marketing success. Marketers must choose brand-enhancing relationships and I give [Wega] a big tick for their connections to cycling and skiing – it’s ideal,” he says. Charles Areni, Professor of Marketing at the University of Sydney Business School, says in an incredibly competitive category such as coffee machine manufacturers, exclusivity is crucial to making an impact. “The rule of thumb for brands with a small share of voice is – you have to be unique in choosing communication vehicles. If you do something unique, like a coffee brand sponsoring a cycling team, people will take note of the brand,” says Areni. “Some may find it out of the ordinary, but that’s exactly the point. It’s unusual so people will remember it.” He says it’s important for businesses to work sensibly within the boundaries of their budget.  “If you have a small share of voice, meaning a smaller marketing communications budget than most competitors in the product category, you have to find a unique way to get your message out there. If you use the same communication channels as your competitors, your message will be lost in the clutter,” Areni says. For most companies partnering global events, the aim isn’t to push product sales, but to simply increase brand recognition. “Sports and other kinds of sponsorships won’t necessarily drive sales right away, but they are effective in increasing brand awareness – an important step to ultimately becoming the preferred brand of consumers,” Areni says. For this reason, he adds it is hard to measure how much revenue is generated from large advertising campaigns. “It’s difficult to judge precisely why people come into a shop and buy a particular brand,” Areni says. “However, the cost per thousand audience members is relatively cheap, especially if the event is undervalued by the promoters. In general, the size and prestige of the events are major factors. Events that attract large and affluent audiences will charge higher sponsorship fees.” Areni says for many consumers, deciding to buy a product is a two-step process. “First they think to themselves, ‘do I recognise the brand or not?’ Then consumers will think, ‘I recognise the brand and I associate it with something in particular.’ In this instance [of sporting events], it’s about positioning coffee in a way that appears as a healthy rather than unhealthy lifestyle. If people see it in that context they are more likely to go purchase it.” Of all the events Wega could have chosen to partner with, from fashion shows, music festivals or fundraising events, Wega’s Nadalet says a coffee manufacturing company partnering with some of the strongest sporting events in the world has more similarities than most people would think. “Both [sports and coffee] are beautiful realities but they are circles where there is only space for the best players: you have to do a great job if you want to access those amazing worlds,” Nadalet says. “Wega has always believed in the values of sports: diligence, perseverance, and the continuous attempt to improve in what you do. Good teamwork makes the difference. Also in business it is important to cooperate to achieve a common goal more easily.” He adds that, like the Wega brand itself, targeting a young and dynamic audience was key to their sports campaign. “Technical excellence speaks for itself, but it’s important to expand the stage to communicate our positioning and our values; both are in line with team sports and internationally-recognised events, where the main element – quality of performance – can reach a young public that is keenly aware of new trends,” Nadalet says. “We always look for something which reflects our values: international openness, respect for the environment, and team spirit.” At the end of the day there will only be one winning athlete, but for the sponsors who can maximise their visibility, they will be the ones best positioned to come out on top. “Every brand has a personal identity which can be demonstrated in different ways,” Nadalet says. “Wega shows how [a] company involved in the coffee business can be close to a young and dynamic world such as that of sport.”

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