Print publishers are increasingly venturing into the events business, and events are “starting to look like a comparative gold rush,” reports AdAge. “[Events] give advertisers something compelling to buy other than ad pages.”
Time Inc. reports that profit from events rose by 63% in 2011, and projects 55% growth in 2012, to revenues of $15 million. Elsewhere, Fortune magazine in June will host a half day “Most Powerful Women Summit” in London, scaled back from its three-day U.S. event, and plans an Asian event in Q4. Fortune has boosted attendance fees for the U.S. event from $2,000 to $7.500. Fortune in the past has attracted speakers including Warren Buffett and President Obama, and include streaming video at a premium.
Finally, The Atlantic hosts its annual “Aspen Ideas Festival” every summer, and has "ambitious" growth plans in events, and rolled out two more events in 2011: its “Brave Thinkers” and “The Atlantic Meets the Pacific.” The Atlantic reports that events account for 17% of its revenue, up from 14% in 2009 (an atypically high figure, but The Atlantic is more experienced with events than late-to-the-party publishers like The Oprah Magazine).
Where Do Advertisers Fit In?
Fortune conducts what Group Publisher Jed Hartman calls “Big, integrated programs where [an advertiser] will sponsor an element of the event and do parallel print and digital, and sometimes custom elements." Advertisers may sponsor a la carte, focusing upon the live event itself, the print or digital elements, or sponsor a particular speaker.
But as Ad Age reports, the downside is the same clutter that plagues traditional ad sales. Esther Lee, senior VP-brand marketing and advertising at AT&T Lee observed an “almost unmanageable proliferation” of events. Still, a live event “[Gives you the] ability to influence and gain thought leadership from others,” and in face-to-face meetings,.
These events tend to be premium, bringing both ad and sponsorship revenues, plus attendance fees, versus trade shows which are more typically free to attend.
The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSH) has announced it will allow advertising on high school football fields, according to a Forbes story. NFHS released its 2012 rule changes for high school football, which dealt largely with preventing concussions. But buried deep within the press release was this language:
“The Football Rules Committee also cleared the way for state associations and their member schools to place corporate advertising and/or commercial markings on the field of play. These types of markings previously were only allowed in the end zones and outside the field. Rule 1-2-3l will state that while corporate advertising and/or commercial markings will be allowed, the markings may not obstruct the yard lines, hash marks or nine-yard marks.”
As Forbes sports blogger Bob Cook observes, school districts (and taxpayers) are increasingly targeting expensive extracurricular activities to trim strapped budgets. The Westerville City School district outside of Columbus, Ohio, eliminated all such programs as of January 24, to save itself $2.3 million dollars.
Perhaps advertising commercializes a sentimental sport (consider the craze for “Friday Night Lights” during its five-season run on NBC), but that complaint is common, and rarely stops the advertising. A few high-school stadiums have sold naming rights to their fields: in 2006, the Noblesville High School in Indiana changed the name of its stadium to Hare Chevrolet Field; the $125,000 the car dealer paid helped offset a $575,000 investment in artificial turf. Right now, members of the Glenbrook [Illinois] North and South high schools are considering advertising to fund artificial turf as well. Glenbrook High School will open bidding on advertising on February 15th, reports the Chicago Tribune.
Advertisers can expect some pushback, but not enough to scare them off. The public advocacy group “Commercial Alert” posted both the NHFS and Glenbrook stories on its website. Commercial Alert's mission is to “keep the commercial culture within its proper sphere,” and prevent advertisers rom “exploiting children and subverting the higher values of family, community, environmental integrity and democracy.” It has done so since 1989, and has taken its anti-commercialization-of-schools campaign onto NPR and the Huffington Post, among other high-profile venues, but has yet to stop a project.
The 52nd annual CLIO Awards announced winners for the best advertising campaigns of the year last week in New York. One of the biggest winners of the night was a campaign for American Express entitled "Small Business Saturday." The campaign took home a Grand CLIO for Content & Contact as well as the Special Recognition Award for Facebook Integrated Media. The campaign was produced for AMEX, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Digitas Inc. American Express executive Leslie Berland, accepting the Facebook Integrated Media award for the group, noted: "Over 1.2 million people in three weeks created a national day. This shows you what the power of a great idea, fantastic team and Facebook can do.“
The campaign designated November 27 as "Small Business Saturday" -- a day when American Express cardholders could receive $25 back when shopping at registered small businesses. At the same time, registered small business owners received access to marketing tools, advice, and free geo-targeted advertising. The multi-channel campaign impacted millions of people and business owners nationwide, and was supported by numerous elected officials. A full gallery about the campaigns of winners across the many categories, including Design, Direct Mail, Innovative Media, Integrated Campaign, Interactive, Out of Home, Print, and Film is available at the CLIO website.