When it’s not babies in roller-skates dancing along to Sugarhill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight, Wimbledon tends to be the theme of French water brand, Evian’s marketing campaigns.
Since 2008, Evian has provided the water of choice for tennis players and spectators alike and will continue to do so until at least 2022.
The long-standing deal, which is currently costing the Danone owned water brand $1.6m per year, has become a case study for best practice event sponsorship campaigns. And for that reason, I doff my cap.
Evian has successfully done something that should technically be incredibly difficult – market water. While it is certainly not the only water brand out there doing the seemingly impossible, Evian is the market leader, consistently holding the top spot in bottled mineral water rankings.
This is the first thing I doff my cap to the French brand for. We are living in one of the most fortunate countries and economies in the world, where drinking water is readily available to us through the taps in our homes and workplaces. Yet we will willingly pay for a bottle of Evian.
Call it a health-related decision, taste preference or an ignorant exercise of our privileged position, Evian has become the front of mind brand thanks to its rigorous marketing activities. And, in particular, its sponsorship of one of the world’s largest tennis competitions.
Water is wet, just like Wimbledon is Evian...
A double fault
What has set this sponsorship deal apart from many others is its duration. Typically, marketing or campaign managers spend months focusing on a certain activity. By the time it goes live, they are bored and ready to move onto the next thing.
Yet what many fail to understand is that consumers are only just seeing the activity and hearing the message. And although they might hear that message, they are by no means listening to it, especially in the always-on, full-of-white-noise world we live in.
This idea is one I have spoken about in previous instalments of this series and refers to something we call touchpoint theory. Fundamentally, to successfully take on board a brand’s message, consumers need to hear it consistently, often and through multiple channels over a significant period of time.
That said, the constant need to change and create new campaigns leads many brands to over-extend and, ultimately, over-kill their offering – the real double fault. This leaves consumers confused and disconnected from the brand, meaning efforts are wasted and marketing investments are lost.
Evian’s approach is quite the opposite. In essence, the long-standing sponsorship has remained the same over the years as Evian demonstrates a clear understanding of the power of persistence.
The brand also recognises that it is not the tennis event’s responsibility to sell its water. Rather than relying on the association to increase brand awareness and generate sales, Evian takes it upon itself to activate the perfect mix of activities to drive results.
Evian does what I think every brand should do when it comes to sponsorship campaigns. It makes Wimbledon the focal point of their entire marketing strategy for the months surrounding the tournament. And then it goes at it with full force.
The mix of activities includes everything from Wimbledon branded bottles and in-store promotions to TV and Tube advertising. Perhaps the most important of these activities is product placement. We see every player at the end of every match sit and drink from an Evian branded bottle. The influence and reach this creates is enough to generate a return on investment.
In recent years, the brand has recognised the rising power and prominence of influencers and added social media partnership activity to its mix too. In doing this, Evian has kept up with the times and the changing marketing sphere, without letting other relevant and valuable channels or activities slip through the net.
For the duration of the campaign, you simply cannot miss an Evian promotion, whether you’re interested in branded water or not.
In fact, timing is yet another factor for the campaign’s success. Running during the summer months, activity comes at the time of year at which consumers will naturally drink more water. It is, therefore, a sensible partnership with a functional link for both parties.
Aware of this, Evian doesn’t leverage the campaign all year round. It knows this would be overkill. Instead, its level of activity throughout the duration of the campaign creates enough noise to carry the brand through the remainder of the year.
This is brand saturation at its finest.
Evian’s product and sponsorship activation for Wimbledon is first class – or ace, if you will. Putting the leg work in itself, Wimbledon simply allows Evian to leverage its brand to spread its message to a wider audience.
This approach is not for the lazy and is, in fact, the very one we take too when it comes to event sponsorships. Whether we’re welcoming brands on board as sponsors of our events or championing one ourselves, Evian has set the benchmark with a best-in-class case study.
So, not only do I doff my cap to the French water brand, but I have also learnt from its example.