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Sponsorship on Stage: Sponsoring Live Family Entertainment

Sponsorship on Stage: Sponsoring Live Family Entertainment

5 Minute Read

Article Highlights

1. Live family entertainment like The Wiggles or Disney on Ice creates a unique opportunity for brands to reach both child and parent. 

2. In addition to reaching kids, brands may leverage sponsorship of live family entertainment to associate with positive social programming or complement existing sponsorship.

3. Given this multi-generational audience, brands must ensure that their tone is relevant and appropriate for both children and their parents.

Whether parents are looking to create lasting family memories or simply keep their kids busy for an afternoon, live family entertainment offers the opportunity to entertain, engage and inspire audiences of all ages. In North America, there is a multitude of entertainment options available for families year-round - Disney on Ice, Monster Jam, the Harlem Globetrotters, The Wiggles, or local theatre productions – all of which deliver memorable experiences and ultimately bring families together.

For brands looking to connect with both children and their parents, live family entertainment shows offer many benefits to potential sponsors. From the appeal it provides corporate sponsors to a profile on brands investing in this space, MKTG examines live family entertainment.  

Benefits of Live Family Entertainment

Access to a Younger Demographic - Kids represent an important demographic for brands because of their considerable purchasing power and ability to influence their parents’ buying decisions. According to a study conducted by Nickelodeon, 71% of parents say they solicit opinions from their kids regarding purchases. Kids influence everything from choice of breakfast to where the family goes on vacation. In addition, many brands see kids as the adult consumers of the future. A recent study by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood reported that children as young as six-months are able to form mental images of corporate logos and mascots. As a result, brands may look towards sponsorship of live family entertainment shows as a means to build brand loyalty early on. 

Associate with Positive Social Programming - Any form of entertainment directed towards children has a responsibility to provide a positive message. Positive messaging such as anti-bullying and inclusivity are common themes in many live shows. The Wiggles, for example, often promote healthy eating behaviors in young children, while recognizing that food can be tasty and fun. By providing a viable platform where sponsors can borrow the show’s equity and earn a shared brand halo, live family entertainment shows are ideal for brands looking to underscore or complement their commitment to a specific social cause.

Ability to Reach Multiple Markets - Majority of live family entertainment shows like Disney on Ice, Monster Jam, or Ringling Bros. Circus travel from venue to venue, filling stadiums and theatres in major North American markets. This gives sponsors an effective way to reach multiple markets through the sponsorship of one production, scaling their presence and maintaining a longer presence in-market.

Ways to Sponsor a Live Family Production

Outside Custom Content (Kraft Dinner & Dee Snider’s Rock n Roll Christmas Tale) – Live family entertainment performers bring a rare personality and creativity to the table. After all, performers are entertainers. As a result, there is an opportunity for sponsors to leverage live entertainment performers in order to capture compelling and innovative content that can be repurposed across a variety of channels. As a sponsor for “Dee Snider’s Rock n Roll Christmas Tale,” (a family-friendly holiday show in Toronto), Kraft launched “The 12 Dee’s of Christmas,” a series of humorous online videos which featured the show’s star, Dee Snider. The humorous videos, which show Snider eating Kraft Dinner, provide an example of how to connect the family-friendly show with a brand sponsor like Kraft.

Inside the Show (Tim Horton’s & Ross Petty’s Cinderella) - Although live family entertainment shows are traditionally void of commercials, some productions are able to organically incorporate a sponsor within the show’s performance. For example, in addition to branding, sponsors of Ross Petty Productions (a producer of family musicals at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre) enjoy a humorous custom :30 video commercial which plays within every performance. Using the show’s characters and tone to relay the sponsor’s message, Ross Petty’s humorous commercials like that for Tim Horton’s can provide added entertainment to the production.

Licensed Merchandise (Hot Wheels & Monster Jam- Sponsors like Mattel have seized the opportunity to promote their line of Hot Wheels toys through their sponsorship of Monster Jam (the world's largest touring monster truck show). Not only are Hot Wheels’ line of Monster Jam trucks available at souvenir stands around the concourse at all Monster Jam shows, but are also available for purchase throughout stores in North America. Hot Wheels is well-known as one of the toy industry’s biggest toy car brands, and its sponsorship of Monster Jam is proof of an effective partnership.

Key Considerations

Ensure a Broad Approach - It is important for sponsors to remember that in addition to marketing to children, adults will also need to be considered. Although kids can influence their parent’s buying decisions, parents need to be on board as well. As a result, brand messaging should not alienate or divide the parent or child. In this case, a broad approach/message is required in hopes of building brand loyalty among children, while simultaneously reaching adults willing to spend money on their kids. 

Consider Portfolio Synergies - Rather than looking at live family entertainment as a stand-alone investment, brands may leverage the opportunity to complement their existing sponsorship portfolio.  If a brand is active in the music or arts sector, for example, sponsorship of live family entertainment in the musical theatre space may reinforce equity in a certain genre while providing the benefits of a family entertainment property. 

Don’t Forget Digital - Kids today have never lived without the Internet. These “digital experts” are highly connected multitaskers. As a result, it only makes sense for sponsors to consider digital activations or opportunities to enjoy the show beyond the stage. By offering digital activations, brands can have a conversation over a longer period of time and introduce the audience to some really engaging content. 

Whether it’s Disney on Ice, Monster Jam, the Harlem Globetrotters, The Wiggles, or local theatre productions, live family entertainment brings the whole family together. This creates a unique opportunity for brands to reach both child and parent.  

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