Brand licensing is a common approach brand owners and licensees use to build awareness, extend reach, and optimized opportunity. Event licensing, like traditional brand licensing, not only creates brand awareness in the minds of those outside the realm of the brand’s primary category, but it also presents a platform to build personal relationships with consumers that can be nourished over time.
There are two strategies that are most prevalent when event licensing is employed, event marketing and event merchandising. These two term are not to be mistaken for the other as they each focus on a specific goal. Since many are familiar with Coca-Cola, this company will be used to demonstrate the differences between the two and how both, event marketing an event licensing are deployed to produce a successful event licensing program.
Event marketing is a strategy that enables brands to engage with consumers, fans, and prospects through in-person, real-time, and an approachable environment. In the first chapter of my book, Expand, Grow, Thrive, I explain my time working with Coca-Cola on their sponsored event the Nagano Olympic Games. This event marketing strategy gave Coca-Cola an inroad to connect to an entirely different and diverse set of consumers who enjoyed watching and interacting with the Olympic Games. Through its relationship as the longest continuous sponsorship dating back to 1928, Coca-Cola activated the Nagano Olympic Games to engage Japanese and international Olympic fans in a unique and special way that was important to them. This helped to build a new or deeper relationship that many of these consumers would not have had otherwise.
With such a platform developed through the event marketing approach, Coca-Cola was able to take advantage of event merchandising. The central goal of event merchandising for Coca-Cola at the Nagano Olympic Games was to create Coke Olympic-branded merchandise that would be sold along the Torch Relay route and during the time of the Games throughout the Nagano prefecture. An array of merchandise which included Polar Bear push, commemorative crystal and gold-plated Coca-Cola Bottles, souvenir and collector items, and the most famous, Coke Olympic trading pins, were manufactured for purchase. These branded merchandise items created a buzz and captured the excitement of the Coca-Cola Nagano Olympic Games experience for consumers. By creating this merchandise for the Nagano fans, Coca-Cola cemented a special and enduring bond.
As you can see, event marketing and event merchandising are complementary tactics the play off the other’s strength. When both strategies are conducted appropriately, it makes for a very successful event licensing program the can build awareness, extend the brand’s reach, and optimized opportunity. Just take Coca-Cola’s success for example.