Olympic Athletes, Rock Stars, and the Challenges of Sponsorship

I know – been a long time.  Happy to be back.  Promise to be more prolific.  On to the news…

Interesting quandary, this IOC Rule 40.  It’s part of the IOC’s Social Media, Blogging and Internet Guidelines, which you can download here.  Rule 40 is designed to protect the interests of the official Olympic event sponsors by precluding any athlete from allowing their name, picture or performance to be used for advertising purposes except as permitted by the IOC.  Were it not , however, for the athletes’ personal sponsors and the support those companies have provided over the years, many athletes – like those from the US and other nations that receive no federal support – would not be able to compete in the games.  Last time I checked, no athletes, no games.  Ad Age has a good piece on the topic.

Compare this to musical artists with tour sponsors.  Or more accurately, rock stars, since they are the only artists that can typically attract corporate sponsorship.  The venues they play, which are generally large because that’s how rock stars roll, also have sponsors since that’s the only way they can make money – the rock stars often take +/-100% of the gate, leaving the venue with over-priced beer, parking, and sponsorship as their only sources of revenue.  Since both sides typically guarantee sponsors category exclusivity, sometimes they conflict.  Only in this case, it’s the artist that usually wins.  No rock star, no show.

So what’s the upshot here?  As our collective media consumption continues to fragment, as engaging audiences becomes more and more difficult across multiple, often simultaneous screens, as social media and our nearly obsessive propensity to share transmits massive amounts of news and info around the world in the time it takes to press “send,” aligning with a sporting event or a rock star that captures the world’s imagination may seem like a good bet – a way to simplify a complex challenge.  It can be.  But nothing is that simple.  Just make sure you’re laying the right bets.

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Kids Talking About Sex and Drugs – Is That Really So Bad?

That bastion of journalistic integrity, The Huffington Post, is launching a HuffPo High School vertical, which will be populated with posts by, not surprisingly, kids in high school.  Similarly, AOL’s hyper local effort, Patch, which is also overseen by Arianna Huffington, editorial doyenne of all things HuffPo and AOL, is seeking to recruit thousands of citizen bloggers as young as 13 years old.

What seems to have everyone’s panties in a twist beyond the usual argument about contributing bloggers to HuffPo going unpaid (which point I’ll address some other time) is the added wrinkle that with these new efforts they will be making money by “exploiting” child labor.  I don’t really see how this differs from Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or any other social media site that provides us all with a free platform from which to express ourselves, share stuff, etc.  And since these platforms – did I mention they were free? – are not philanthropic efforts, they must support themselves with some form of income.  Don’t hear anyone complaining much about them…

Forbes was kind of outraged; Ad Age was down right apoplectic.  Am I missing something?


Back to Life, Back to Reality…

Greetings and salutations…

It’s been a crazy long time since I posted.  I won’t go into the details, mostly because they’re not very interesting.  I did, however, have an epiphany of sorts, courtesy of my friend Jason, that every post doesn’t need to be a treatise requiring a full day of writing, editing and re-editing.  Rather, I can offer up some interesting (at least to me, and hopefully to you) tidbits several times throughout the day and week, and maybe do some serious pontificating once a week or so.  Thank you, Jason, for liberating me from my compulsive editing – I’m going to give it a try because while some people need an outlet for their creativity, I need one for my opinions.

Since this a back to school/work/real life day for just about everyone, I thought I’d ease us all back in with a toast of sorts to one person and one ad agency with two important things in common – they not only entertained us enormously over the years, but they also succeeded (judging by the volume of me-too’s, wannabe’s and copy cats they collectively generated) in altering the pop culture landscape.  The first is Freddie Mercury, who would have turned 65 yesterday and is the subject of today’s excellent Google doodle (although I think I would have chosen Killer Queen).  The second is Minneapolis-based agency Petersen Milla Hooks, which is best known for the iconic work they did for Target.  While client and agency parted ways this past spring (and the chain’s advertising has suffered significantly for it, IMHO), the last campaign they did together – for Target’s Missoni line, which debuts later this month – is vintage PMH and the kind of advertising that so successfully set Target apart from their competitors.  (Think Missoni would ever do a line for Wal-Mart?  JC Penney?  Hell, I bet they wouldn’t even do one for Macy’s.)  So what better time to take a look back, courtesy of Ad Age, at some of the great work they’ve done together.

PS:  2 points to whoever identifies the musical reference in the title – band AND CD.