The Wandering Mind of a Soccer Mom — Part 2

In my last post, I described a great example of amateur sports sponsorship used to deeply engage a relevant consumer target.  Continuing on that topic….

I also award kudos to last winter’s league-wide sponsor of my eight year old son Jack’s hockey team.  At around this age our budding NHL superstars typically get their first taste of tournament play and so we were faced with the new experience of packing up our Subaru Forester for weekend-long, team trips.  Well, the hockey bag alone is humungous!  Add luggage for a family of four, a 12 pack of beer, juice boxes, snacks
and the like, along with bulky winter wear, and we were squeezed tight in a vehicle that had always been more than adequate in the past.  The timing could not have been more perfect for our league sponsor to write ‘Caravan Kids’ on the back of each and every player’s hockey jersey!

We had to admit that we were going to need more space soon, but Craig and I couldn’t imagine ourselves owning a minivan.  Maybe a nice hybrid SUV some day… but never, ever, a minivan.

Then along came plans for a winter trip to visit my Dad in Florida.  The mere thought of twenty-four hours in the car with Jack and his sister Taylor bickering and within poking
distance of each other in the back seat was more than we could bear, and so we chose the next best low cost option and flew out of Buffalo.  Once we reached Orlando, we rented a minivan in order to accomodate the four of us plus my Dad, on outings.  By some co-incidence it turned out to be a Dodge Caravan.

“Awesome!” Jack said when he saw the side doors slide magically open with the click of a button.

“I get the back seat!” said Taylor.

“I’ll sit way up here,” said Jack, taking the second row.

Not only could they sit FAR apart from each other, but the storage compartments, passenger lighting and armrests kept them occupied for what seemed like an eternity.  Meanwhile, Craig and I loaded our luggage in the back.

“Are you sure we’re not missing a bag?” I said.

Having driven to the airport in our packed full Subaru, I simply couldn’t believe that a skinny looking area behind the third row seating could hold so much.  Our hoard of luggage fit easily, with room to spare.  Craig and I giggled with glee as we settled into the luxurious captain’s chairs and oriented ourselves to the variety of gadgets within reach.  The kids were still fiddling with their cup holders as Craig accelerated through the parking garage, smoothly taking corners at speeds well beyond the posted limit.  Maybe we are minivan people!

Now if only the marketers behind our local hockey sponsorship had gone that one step further to give everyone whose son was wearing a Caravan Kid jersey this kind of experience!  How about offering an entry in a draw to win a free two year lease to everyone who brings their family to test drive a Caravan?  How about having a collection of hockey equipment and weekend luggage on hand in the showroom to illustrate the storage capacity behind that third row?  How about displaying the vehicle at the arena for a weekend so everyone going in and out could at least have an up close look?  I can think of a hundred ways to take what must have been a costly league wide sponsorship, one step closer to closing the deal.

In my years as a marketer, I never gave much consideration to amateur sports sponsorship.  But now that my butt is aching from sitting through a year’s worth of games, I realize that there are thousands of parents just like me, watching those jerseys streak by week after week.  Together, we are a captive audience that is ripe for the taking.  But companies are going to have to go further than a logo.

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