A testimonial by LeBron James may be beyond your financial means, but what about a team of 80-year-old female ballers? You could afford them, but would you ever think to ask them?
Leave it to a mayonnaise icon to make the connection. Miracle Whip, which debuted in Chicago’s Century of Progress Exposition in 1933, is turning 84, so some clever person in the marketing department thought of a way to mark the birthday. Kraft-owned Miracle Whip sunk its sponsorship dollars into the San Diego Splash, a women’s basketball team whose players are 80+ years old. (A couple of players are in their 90s.)
Talking to AdWeek, Marketing Director Matt Carpenter said he was looking for a way to underscore the heritage of Miracle Whip. Then he saw a segment on espnW about the San Diego Splash that showed inspiring footage of the women sinking baskets and competing vigorously. “Just seeing these ladies touching people of all ages lined up with how we think about our brand,” Carpenter said.
It didn’t hurt that many Splash team members grew up with Miracle Whip as a favorite condiment. Team member Jean Field said, “I’ve been a Miracle Whip fan since I was 3 years old. My grandparents had it in their icebox. My mother had it in her refrigerator. And it’s been in my refrigerator and my kids’ refrigerators for years.” You couldn’t write a better ad script than that.
Carpenter hasn’t decided whether to feature the team in any Miracle Whip ads. For now, he is content with letting his brand’s association with the Splash whip away on social media.
The Splash sponsorship is clever for several reasons. It involves an organic connection between a brand and consumers that isn’t phony or pumped up. Sponsoring an octogenarian women’s basketball team is different without being kitschy. The sponsorship creates content that is perfectly suited for social media sharing. And, not unimportant, it is an affordable marketing investment, even for enterprises with far less cash than Miracle Whip.
Carpenter said the sponsorship includes contributions by Miracle Whip to the team’s scholarship program, paying for the team’s league fees and buying new gear. The players won’t have to buy any Miracle Whip for the rest of their lives, either.
Marketers shouldn’t overlook out-of-the-box possibilities for memorable associations, through sponsorships or other connections, that embody the message your brand wants to send.