Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 15 2015

Here’s A Lesson From Stephen Colbert To Help Your Meeting’s Sponsors Matter More

By David McMillin

Sponsorship is a crucial word for meeting planners and trade show organizers. Whether you’re hosting a medical meeting, an agricultural trade show or a retail conference, there are brands that want to cement their names in the brains of your registered attendees. When they return home, sponsors hope they’ll take their names with them. Naturally, those sponsors are often willing to pay big money to put their messaging on screens, in programs and basically anywhere your attendees turn.

However, paying to be a sponsor doesn’t automatically pay off for those sponsors. They have to be creative. They have to be willing to take risks. In today’s landscape of advertisement after advertisement, they have to think outside the traditional lines of marketing and promotion. There’s no better example of this kind of thinking than Sabra’s paid-for segment on the first-ever episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Sabra makes hummus. So how did the company have Colbert plug their creamy chickpea dip? Through a weird ancient, cursed amulet that makes groaning noises, naturally. Here’s the clip; Sabra makes its first appearance around the 3:30 mark.

Colbert knows he needs sponsors to keep the show making money. However, he also knows that a traditional “Sabra makes delicious hummus packed with roasted red pepper flavor!” message isn’t exactly the most compelling way to engage his audience or showcase the product. Instead, he makes the sponsorship component obvious and funny. He manages to keep the audience’s attention and even buys himself enough time to showcase another of the company’s offerings. Most importantly to Sabra, it worked. According to data from Amobee Brand Intelligence, overall engagement around the brand increased by 311 percent the day after the show’s debut.

SEE ALSO: 5 Tips To Strengthen Your Sponsorship Program

Now, I’m not advocating that all of your sponsors decide to buy weird amulets to bring to your next meeting or trade show. Being strange and funny isn’t always the right route. However, it is important to identify opportunities throughout your meeting where sponsors can do more than put their names on some signage. Are there places where you can help sponsors inject a new level of innovative energy into their efforts? Are there ways that sponsors can craft more emotionally engaging campaigns that will resonate with the audience? As you look ahead to your next program, work with your sponsors to make sure their dollars can go further and their efforts can better connect with your attendees.

Have you worked with any of your sponsors to craft a promotional effort that got your attendees talking (and listening)? If you have any sponsorship success stories, please share them in the comments section below.

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