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How Heineken, Sephora tap mobile for more targeted sponsorship activations

Big brands including Heineken and Sephora are leveraging event sponsorships with mobile and digital to test new and emerging platforms.

Marketers have a long history of sponsoring live events to hit groups of on-brand consumers at scale, but the rise of digital and mobile has made it more difficult for brands to justify the hefty price tags often associated with event sponsorships. One example of a brand leveraging mobile to fuel some innovation on new platforms is Heineken, which is launching a Snapchat effort at the upcoming 2014 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, CA. 

?As a brand, we tap into moments our consumers are experiencing at particular times, but we also create our own moments other times,? said Pattie Falch, brand director of Heineken sponsorships and events and marketing at Heineken, White Plains, NY.

?Mobile plays into the former perfectly,? she said. ?We know that our men and women of the world are constantly connected, especially at a festival like Coachella. They want to share their experiences and engage with content that enhances those experiences.?

Emerging platforms
Heineken?s SnapWho campaign claims to be the first initiative from a beer brand on the mobile and social platform.

The brewer has created a Snapchat account called Heinekensnapwho that consumers can follow to receive clues about which musicians are playing at the brand?s sponsored Heineken House before all concertgoers find out.

Advertising opportunities on Snapchat are still relatively new for marketers, but time-sensitive messages at live events make sense as a way to dole out exclusive content to a group of smartphone-wielding millennials. 

?Festival-goers at Coachella spend a lot of time speculating about who?s going to show up as a surprise act, and Snapchat?s fleeting nature only helps to fuel that fire,? Ms. Falch said.

?Heineken can tap into that natural curiosity to engage fans in a two-way dialogue, while staying true to the way consumers are already using the platform,? she said.

This is not the first time that Heineken has leveraged mobile and social as part of an event sponsorship.

The beer brand also experimented creatively with Instagram last year as part of a sponsorship for the US Open (see story). 

Beyond the event sponsorship
Sephora is taking a slightly different approach to digital with its on-site Coachella sponsorship.

The retailer is incorporating digital into its on-site tent with mobile phone chargers and beauty product experiences.

Makeup artists will be placed at stations around the tent, where Coachella attendees can learn more about the brand?s products and receive digital coupons.

Leveraging the event sponsorship in conjunction with digital coupons gives Sephora a way to squeeze the most out of its sponsorship to drive in-store foot traffic and online sales. 

Additionally, members of Sephora?s Beauty Insider loyalty program will get faster access to all of the retailer?s on-site activations.

There is also a digital photo booth and TVs that pull in social activity that are sponsored by Sephora?s new social shopping platform called Beauty Board.

Beauty Board was unveiled earlier this year as Sephora?s owned social and mobile platform that lets loyalty members post pictures that they can then shop from (see story). 

Social impact
U.S. Bank is another example of a brand betting on mobile and social to get some additional engagement out of its big-budget event sponsorships.

This year, U.S. Bank is debuting a sponsored digital clubhouse this season at Minneapolis? Target Field as part of a sponsorship with Major League Baseball team the Minnesota Twins.

The digital clubhouse includes mobile phone chargers and a Twitter mirror experience that lets fans pose in front of an installed iPad where they can take a selfie. The image is then shared to Twitter.

The strategy stems from the fact that more consumers are now using their mobile devices to share their in-stadium experiences, which U.S. Bank wants to capitalize on.

Similar to other executions, U.S. Bank?s initiative is interesting because there is a bricks-and-mortar experience in addition to digital, indicating that brands still find value in having physical assets at events.

?We get more and more fans every game bringing in their mobile devices, so we have this space that essentially brings that group together,? said Chris Iles, director of corporate and digital communication at the Minnesota Twins, Minneapolis.

?This is the biggest push that we have done to give a physical presence to social media and digital,? he said.

More efficient spend
In addition to the increased engagement that brands get out of digital at event sponsorships, mobile and social is also likely helping brands cut some of the costs associated with event sponsorships.

Event sponsorships are notorious for building up brand awareness quickly, but the long-term impact from efforts often fall flat after the event ends.

Marketers that want to integrate more digital components into event sponsorships can leverage analytics and better targeting to make their case, according to Aaron Price, co-founder of livecube, New York.

For example, marketers can tailor marketing towards specific groups of consumers who are talking about the event on social media.

The learnings from these event sponsorships also have the possibility of influencing bigger mobile and social strategies for brands.

?The biggest shift in the last six months is that event organizers accept ? and some embrace ? that mobile is here to stay and should be part of bettering the attendee experience,? Mr. Price said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York