How to incorporate sponsors at an event - Ideas and notes from the NFL Draft

The NFL has turned the annual draft into a theatrical broadcast that attracts millions of viewers.  Now they are leveraging the live, in-person event. They have attracted 38 on-site activation sponsors to create a fan fest as they announce the new draft picks for the 2016 season. Taking a boring, non-event and making it a sponsorable can't miss event for your fans is a hard thing to accomplish. Here are some simple ideas to make some provide sponsorship value and produce a revenue generating, annual showcase.  Chicago Tribue write up. Also, the ChooseChicago landing page for Draft Town.

Sponsorship Buddy's Take:

1. Free Festival - that's how the draft fan fest is promoted.  Very key that fans can come and participate for free.

2. Require sponsors to provide an interactive game for guests. Don't let them come and set up a booth and hand out marketing material.  This might be a difficult ask at first, but it will preserve the life-blood of the event, which is the fans interactive experience

3. You must have merchandise, especially if this is an off-season event.  The NFL brought in a temporary pop up store from Fanatics.

4. Photo opportunities are important thing for fans to have during the event.  Which makes it a prime sponsor engagement tactic.  Make sure a sponsor provides the ability for fans to take a really fun "selfie."

Here's how Skittles leveraged a fan photo opportunity:

Skittles, which became an official NFL sponsor in 2014, is "amping up" its draft presence this year. The Chicago-based brand is unveiling the Skittles Locker Room — a colorful, candy-themed take on the sweatier NFL variety. The elaborate 30-by-30-foot space includes a Skittles-filled hot tub, where fans can immerse themselves in a unique photo opportunity.

5. The sponsor must think about interacting with the youth in attendance. That's a key driver to an event. What can my kids do?  Gatorade provided clinics at the NFL draft, but you  don't need to be too creative here, just provide some kid activities.  Can't go wrong with inflatables.  (sponsored!?)

6. Provide a map of the layout to fans.  You can also use this as an inventory item to sponsors. NFL Map example (screenshot below)

Graphics to use in your pitch



Activation examples pulled from the article:

1. Skittle locker room experience

2. Gatorade youth clinics

3. Dannon Yogurt presenting the Ferris Wheel

4. Wilson football factory

5. DMI, a Rosemont-based dairy marketing association promoting it's support of Play 60

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