Pairing Off: Shopping Centers Partner Up with Sponsors to Generate Ancillary Income

Article excerpt

Shopping centers are turning to sponsorship revenue to increase the bottom line and remain competitive in a challenging marketplace. A sponsor-partner is usually defined as a company using the center as a conduit to reach consumers without directly selling a product. These non-retail partners use the center's common areas to showcase their wares, detail their services, distribute product samples and market their brands directly to the public.

That Was Then; This is Now

Not long ago, a shopping center might lease space to a local car dealer, who would simply park a shiny, new model there for a month or two. Other centers might have paid promoters to bring traffic-building events, such as children's entertainment or a celebrity appearance, to the center.

Today, many shopping center auto sponsorships feature state-of-the-art displays, high-tech communications and hands-on opportunities for test drives, promotions and other made-for-the-mall strategies. Promoters still bring major events to the center, but now property managers are more likely to be cashing checks than writing them. Promoters willing to pay to use shopping centers as centrally-located venues profit too by gaining a built-in audience and extended marketing capabilities.

Marketers are finding it more difficult to reach mass audiences through traditional media. To supplement or replace their traditional advertising, savvy marketers have had to explore other options such as out-of-home advertising, telemarketing, direct mail, product placements in television and movies, online advertising and sports and event sponsorships.

When these marketers see the shopping mall, they see a new marketing medium, a new landscape to deliver messages in a targeted, cost-effective way.

The Litmus Test

It's critical to find a balance between maximizing sponsorship revenue and preserving a carefully cultivated center environment. The key to creating this balance lies in a simple litmus test that can be applied to every prospective sponsorship or sponsored activity. …