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The Upside of ProSocial Activation


I recently conducted a Sponsor Summit for about 60 partners of #ArtsQuest, producer of more than dozen festivals including Bethlehem Musikfest (https://www.musikfest.org/), the country’s largest free music festival and developer of SteelStacks arts and cultural campus built on a site abandoned by Bethlehem Steel.

The two-fold goal of the Summit was getting sponsors to activate more (because more activation means greater ROI for the sponsors) and to design activation programs that built value for the community as well as their brands (because the ProSocial Valuation Service values these programs which enables sponsors to get credit for the good they are doing).

An example of ProSocial sponsor activation is Rewarding Desired Behavior. It is an update of old-school cause-related marketing but instead of being built around buying something, e.g., donation with purchase, it is built around doing something. Actions rather than transactions.

  • Confectionary marketer #Cadbury, a sponsor of Age UK, opened a pop-up resale shop in England that rewarded people who tackled loneliness in the elderly. There were no price tags on the merchandise instead each item carried an action item such as a ‘hello’ to an older person at the bus stop, a chat with a neighbor, or a phone call to a relative.
  • Around its sponsorship of Earth Day, #Absolut wanted to encourage people to recycle and opened a bar in NYC that accepted recyclables as currency for cocktails.
  • Around its sponsorship of Chicago’s Pitchfork Festival, #CLIFBAR rewarded attendees who donated to the Alliance Great Lakes with a music-themed Inbox tattoo, which lasts for an average of two weeks.
  • #InnocentDrinks, which also sponsors Age UK, rewards knitters of little hats for its smoothie bottles with a 25P donation to the nonprofit. In 2019, it received 1.5M caps. https://www.thebigknit.co.uk/knitting-patterns
  • For its Taste of the Nation sponsorship, which supports No Kid Hungry, #Citi encouraged attendees to post a photo of their favorite foods or beverages on their social channels along with #CitiGiving and the vendor’s hashtag. For every post featuring the event hashtag, Citi donated a meal to No Kid Hungry.
  • Around its tour sponsorship of Grammy Award-winning Lady Gaga, #Absolut Vodka invited fans to share creative ideas for how they would transform their community in exchange for a chance to win seat upgrades. Winners were seated at a one-of-a-kind, onstage bar that was part of the theatrical set.

The originator of rewarding community service with is tickets is #GiveToGet, which introduced Greenbucks in Telluride, Colorado in the late 90s. In exchange for working on environmental clean-up and restoration projects residents earned Greenbucks, printed vouchers that could be used as tickets to an exclusive concert on Main Street or at participating stores and restaurants. Greenbucks expanded nationally and became RockCorps. Today, Give To Get works with global sponsors on ProSocial activation overlays and manages employee engagement programs built around service from its offices in L.A., Denver and London. https://www.givetoget.com/

The service for rewards model was popularized by #GlobalCitizenFestival; tickets to the event are not available for purchase, they can only be earned via actions on social media. #Afropunk and #EssenceMusicFestival also set aside tickets to be used as rewards for service.

How the ProSocial Valuation Service Calculates the Dollar Value of Sponsor Activation. PSV does not include sponsorship rights fees in its calculations because the outcomes of the sponsored events are already counted. We do value sponsor created programs that benefit people and planet, that would not have happened otherwise. Examples of ProSocial activations that we have valued for sponsors include in-store fundraising; messaging/advocacy on behalf of a cause; health screenings; employee volunteerism; and internships and mentoring.

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