If You Do It, Measure It

Occasionally I run across one of my favorite quotes about advertising from John Wannamaker, a marketing pioneer. He said “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” That reasoning extends beyond advertising; it can encompass all marketing spending as well as expenditures throughout a business. It is unnecessary to take “half” literally – it may be more or less than 50% that is being wasted. The point is that waste is likely occurring, but it is possible that it could be reduced if more emphasis was placed on measurement.

Measuring performance is a weakness for many marketing organizations. They may be exceptional at planning and executing strategies and tactics, but assessing results may lack the same emphasis. Or, the wrong things may be measured if activity is confused with results.

This issue surfaced for me this morning as I listened to the radio. The Chief Operating Officer of the Nashville Predators, Sean Henry, was on a sports talk show discussing the importance of a professional sports franchise being visible and active in the community. Henry stressed that the visibility is not limited to players and coaches, but rather employees throughout the organization should be engaged with the community. To that end, the organization recently launched an initiative called Project 6K. The program’s goal is to reach a cumulative number of 6,000 hours spent by team employees working in the community, or about 40 hours per employee. One comment Henry made that stood out was that employees are already active in the community; those efforts will now be quantified through Project 6K.

I applaud the Nashville Predators for an organization-wide approach to corporate social responsibility. Moreover, it is important that employees’ contributions are being measured to measure productivity in community relations. Also, it will help present a more compelling story to the Nashville community about the level of involvement the Predators organization has in the area.

It would be interesting to assess the impact of activity like the hours invested in Project 6K on marketing results. Did the program contribute to more brand awareness? Did it enhance the image local residents hold for the Nashville Predators? How many leads for ticket customers came from the organization’s involvement in the community? While it is unrealistic to expect every investment to deliver a return in the form of sales or new customers, it is realistic for initiatives like Project 6K to have marketing benefits. So, if you do it, measure it.

When is Re-Branding a Sports Venue for 5th Time not a Problem?

The Nashville Predators have played in the NHL since 1998 and is the main tenant of an arena in the city’s downtown area. Since the venue opened it has had 5 different identities: Nashville Arena, Gaylord Entertainment Center, Nashville Arena (again), Sommet Center, and Bridgestone Arena. The latest name could show up on signage as early as next week following the announcement yesterday of a 5-year agreement between Bridgestone and the Predators. Congratulations, Bridgestone, you have just bought a rather used marketing asset- now what?

If the naming rights to this facility were a dress in a department store, one might think it would be found on the 75% off clearance rack because of its shop-worn condition. Five names in 12 years would be an unwise approach to branding a product, but the name changes happened, leaving the Predators to make the best of the situation. The team has found an ideal naming rights partner for the venue. A company with a strong local presence (Bridgestone’s North American headquarters is in Nashville) that wants to support professional sports in the market fits the bill for a sports venue naming rights partner. A corporate partner with local ties is even more important in a smaller market like Nashville. The benefits of having a corporate name on the venue in terms of media exposure are not as great as it would be in a major market, so the potential buyers for the venue’s naming rights are fewer in number.

While there are challenges in re-branding a sports venue, the frequent changes in names could actually benefit Bridgestone in this case. The length of time the previous corporate names were on the building were relatively short (7 years for Gaylord, 3 years for Sommet) given that the length of naming rights agreements can be 10 years or more. Bridgestone has developed a strong presence in sports in recent years on a national scale as official sponsor of NFL, NHL, MLB, and the Super Bowl halftime show. The company has now extended that presence to its headquarters city. Bridgestone is an excellent fit as naming rights partner for the venue. A 5-year deal gives the company some flexibility in determining the value of sponsoring the venue, but it would not be surprising to see the Bridgestone name on the building for years to come.