Top Sponsorship Series
Generally speaking, sponsorships are geared towards consumers. And yet there are a number of partnerships out there whose main objective is to target the business world.
The partnership between Siemens and Disney serves as a great example. Its main goal is to drive sales, push business development and position the brand with potential business clients. In a lot of ways, the ties between the two companies look more like a joint business venture.
Disney’s theme parks already used a wide array of Siemens products before the start of their partnership. In 2005, Siemens deepened its collaboration, specifically from a technical standpoint, throughout the Disney ecosystem—including its theme parks, hotels, cruise ships and other business sectors.
Siemens gets great visibility in a lot of Disney theme parks, including Spaceship Earth at Epcot. Some of the attractions, like Project Tomorrow, are directly based on Siemens technology, and the two companies are constantly looking for ways to integrate technology into new or existing installations around the world.
As far as business development goes, a VIP centre for Siemens customers and employees was built on a site next to the famous Spaceship Earth. This exclusive centre has a hospitality service for guests, conference rooms, a lounge area and VIP access to Siemens attractions. It draws an impressive 14,000 visitors every year and hosts more than 180 private events where Seimens has the chance to showcase its products and tell the story of the brand’s impressive innovations.
Siemens had been looking for a way to tap into the growing American market for a while, but the brand was suffering from low awareness, as people mostly associated them with projects oversees. The partnership with Disney played a crucial role in Americanizing Siemens in the US market.
Ultimately, Siemens wanted to increase purchase intention in a B2B environment and do it by presenting its somewhat abstract and complex technology in a concrete way. As a secondary objective, and with an eye to corporate social responsibility, Siemens also wanted to get young people more excited about science.
The company initially considered investing in sports as a way of reaching its communication objectives mentioned above. But the sports world, despite having an impressive number of loyal fans, missed the mark in a number of ways. For starters, because of the high demand to be a sponsor, companies have to pay a pretty penny to be a leading property. And with so many players vying for the public’s attention, it makes it hard for a brand to stand out. What’s more, the assets didn’t provide much opportunity for the company to showcase its technological savoir-faire. Lastly, sports tend to offer seasonal visibility only, and that was a negative for a brand looking to have eyeballs on it all year long.
Disney proved to be an ideal platform to help the brand achieve its objectives, especially since GE, a competitor of Siemens, had recently partnered with Universal Orlando, a Disney rival.
The relationship between the two partners has continued to flourish, with the development of various initiatives tied to Siemen’s business sectors, from energy to health to mobility. One of the most interesting collaborations features co-branded hearing aids for young patients with auditory problems, together with Disney books to help them get comfortable with their new device. The effect on sales was huge: thanks to the program, a lot of hearings specialists now opt for Siemens products.
The two companies also produced medical diagnostic campaigns featuring Disney and Marvel characters and logos to better communicate with kids. These tools were a remarkable success and ended up being translated into nine languages.
As part of the partnership, they also developed new attractions, including one based on the popular film Cars. Such platforms and experiences give Siemens the chance to tell its brand story in a way that the sporting world could never have offered.
A lot of the elements at play in the Disney and Siemens partnership can be applied to any type of sponsorship. It is a partnership that is mutually beneficial for both parties, as it goes beyond simple advertising needs. It also makes for an interesting long-term collaboration and curbs the desire for one of the partners to make an early exit.
Partnerships that focus on business rather than consumer objectives can be good for promoters, as they’re not necessarily looking to achieve typical consumer market goals like visibility. They provide a supplementary source of revenue without the costs associated with a classic partnership. What’s more, companies that are active in the business markets are often less solicited and, as a result, they may be in a position to draw on a healthier sales and promotional budget.