Skip to main content

Never Sell Title Sponsorships, (Unless You Have To)

Toys for Teens

It’s Christmas time in the States and American’s open their hearts and their wallets to causes of all kinds.

Since the early post-WWII years, one of the organizations that Americans have responded to generously is Toys for Tots, now known as the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. In 2005 they took in $233 million in receipts and gave out $221 million in toys.

The original mission was to give at least one toy to a child orphaned by the war at Christmas time. As the orphans grew up, the mission changed from giving toys to war orphans to giving them to children in poverty. Toys for Tots remains very much a military operation. Here’s their stated mission, for instance:

“The mission of Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is to raise funds to provide toys to supplement the collections of local Toys for Tots coordinators; defray the costs of conducting annual Toys for Tots campaigns; provide administrative, advisory, financial, logistic and promotional support of local coordinators; provide other support that the Marine Corps, as a federal agency, cannot provide; and conduct public education and information programs, which call the general public to action in support of Toys for Tots.”

They have toy drop-off locations in 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. A few days before Christmas Marine Reservists in uniforms and volunteers pick up the toys and they’re delivered to waiting children.

In 2001, with the sponsorship of Best Buy (a national electronics retailer), they launched Toys for Teens, which is probably self-explanatory. The logo for Toys for Teens incorporates Best Buy’s logo. This kind of title sponsor co-branding is very tricky. You have to balance the support you get from the title sponsor against the question, could I get more (from more sponsors) if I don’t sell the title?

When I was at Children’s Miracle Network the immortal Tim McInnis (now in development at the University of Utah) sold a poster child campaign called ‘Champions Across America’ and ‘Champions Across Canada’ to IOF Foresters (nee 'Foresters') for a cool $3 million. In time I got that account. When I left Children’s Miracle Network, two of the lessons I was sure I had learned was never sell title sponsorship and try your best to keep exclusivity off the table, too.

The problem, as I saw it, was that title sponsorship crowds everybody else out. A charity program is not like a sports arena which can be named for a sponsor on the outside of the building, but still have plenty of room for other sponsors on the inside. You just can’t pack that many sponsors into a nonprofit campaign when there’s a title sponsor.

Toys for Teens and Best Buy cleverly straddle the issue by calling the campaign ‘Toys for Teens’ rather than ‘Best Buy Toys for Teens.’ The logo says ‘title sponsor’ but nothing else does.
As for Children’s Miracle Network, the fact is, when Tim sold the Champions campaign, we were darn glad for it. It was only after a few years of building equity into the campaign that we begin to wonder if we couldn’t get more for it.

The lesson? Don’t sell a title sponsorship (unless you have to). And try to get away with ‘splitting the baby’ like Toys for Teens has.


Mads Toft said…
What you can do is like campaign red to work with graphic identity instead of logotype

Popular posts from this blog

Three Ways to Be Charitable

I’ve spent a big chunk of my career working with or for charities. Many of my dearest and ablest friends are in the charity ‘space.’ And the creativity and problem-solving coming out of the nonprofit sector has never been greater.  Although I’ve had numerous nonprofit clients over the last decade or so, I haven’t worked in a charity for about 12 years now, which gives me a certain distance. Distance lends perspective and consequently, I get a lot of people asking me which charities I recommend for donations of money or time. My usual answer is, “it depends.” “On what?” they respond. “On what you want from your charitable activities,” I reply. It sounds like a weaselly consultant kind of an answer, but bear with me for a moment. The English word charity comes from the Latin word caritas and means “from the heart,” implying a voluntary act. Caritas is the same root word for cherish. The Jews come at charity from a different direction. The Hebrew word that is usually rendered as charity is t…

Top Eight Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns of 2007

Yeah, You Read it Right. It's a Top 8 List.

More cause-related marketing campaigns are unveiled every day across the world than I review in a year at the cause-related marketing blog. And, frankly, I don’t see very many campaigns from outside North America. So I won’t pretend that my annual list of the top cause-related marketing campaigns is exhaustive.

But, like any other self-respecting blogger, I won’t let my superficial purview stop me from drawing my own tortured conclusions!

So… cue the drumroll (and the dismissive snickers)… without further ado, here is my list of the eight best cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007.

My list of the worst cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007 follows on Thursday.

Chilis and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
I was delighted by the scope of Chilis’ campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As you walked in you saw the servers adorned in black co-branded shirts. Other elements included message points on the Chilis beverage coas…

Five Steps To Nurture a 30-Year Cause Marketing Relationship

Last Monday, July 22, 2013, March of Dimes released the annual results of its campaign with Kmart... now in its thirtieth year... and thereby begged the question, what does it takes to have a multi-decade cause marketing relationship between a cause and a sponsor?

In the most recent year, Kmart,the discount retailer, donated $7.4 million to the March of Dimes, bringing the 30-year total to nearly $114 million. March of Dimes works to improve the health of mothers and babies.

Too many cause marketing relationships, in my estimation, resemble speed-dating more than long-term marriage. There can be good reasons for short-term cause marketing relationships. But most causes and sponsors benefit more from long-term marriages than short-term hookups, the main benefit being continuity. Cause marketing trades on the trust that people, usually consumers, put in the cause and the sponsor. The longer the relationship lasts the more trust is evidenced.

There's also a sponsor finding cost that…