You may not know the sport of Three-Day Eventing. To horse-show enthusiasts it’s a grueling event that showcases a horse and rider’s skill at three sports over a period of three days: dressage, cross country and stadium jumping. The most prestigious event of the year happens in Kentucky Horse Park.
Known to riders and spectators simply as “Rolex”, this illustrious event is actually sponsored by Land Rover. Yet Rolex’s marketing there was so effective it will take years to “unbrand” the event. And while Three-Day Eventing is not as popular to the general public as football, anyone who competes in this upscale and expensive sport still references “Rolex” with excitement in the privacy of their barns.
Event Branding: Prerequisites
Any company can put their brand on an event as Rolex did. It’s going to take time and money. Naturally, the more popular the event the more it will cost. But you don’t need to put your brand on the Indy 500. Start small and get your feet wet branding a single performing arts event or concert. Before you even attempt it, you’ll need to make sure your marketing basics are covered:
- Your logo is simple, specific and trademarked.
- You have a 3-word catchphrase (like “I’m Lovin’ It” or “Just Do It”) that is trademarked.
- Your brand is a good fit for the event.
- Your business name is 3 syllables or less.
If you don’t have all these prerequisites in place, you’ll need to re-brand before you tackle serious event sponsorship.
Is Your Brand a Good Fit For The Event?
Realize that we’re not talking about program book advertising or a small sponsorship here. What Rolex did was a massive multi-million dollar single sponsorship with exclusivity. Rolex was the only name associated with the event. Surely there were other products and companies featured at the event. But you can be sure that no other luxury watch manufacturer got any advertising associated with the Kentucky Three-Day Event at all.
Before investing those millions, the marketing team at Rolex judged they were a good match for this event because:
- This audience is largely affluent.
- The events are timed to hundredths of a second. Riders, coaches, and spectators will be checking their watches all weekend long.
The sport and the audience were a perfect match for a high-end luxury watchmaker. Other brands do the same sort of marketing all the time. Monster Energy Drinks targets 18-30-year-old males with extreme sports sponsorships. Matching the brand with the audience is key!
It Takes a Long Time
In the beginning, we called it “The Rolex Three-Day Event”. As a few years went by it became “Rolex Three-Day” and finally, for 20 years or so (and still to this day) we simply call this event “Rolex”. But it took 25 years!
Something about “The Land Rover Three-Day Event” just doesn’t roll off the tongue… YET. Because for 25 years it’s been ROLEX! So realize that it will take a few years to burn your brand onto an event, don’t give up after one or two years, you’re making a long term commitment.
At Onstage Publications our specialty is marketing to an affluent audience. Our product speaks to luxury audiences in high-end venues, and we are the industry experts. Check out our blog for more great marketing resources. If you’d like to learn more about advertising in luxury venues, or reaching a wealthy audience contact us today!
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