JUDGE AND JURY: Brands wake up to Millenium Dome sponsor opportunities

By growing hair on the Dome body, L’Oreal has ensured a credible piece of branding for its sponsorship, says Karen Earl, managing director, Karen Earl Limited

By growing hair on the Dome body, L’Oreal has ensured a credible

piece of branding for its sponsorship, says Karen Earl, managing

director, Karen Earl Limited



It’s not so long ago that companies and brands were showing a marked

reluctance to get involved with the Dome. This seems to have changed now

with the announcement of sponsorship by the likes of BT, Tesco and

BSkyB.



Worryingly for those who have already signed up, recent research shows

that 70 per cent of the UK population doesn’t support the Dome as a

concept.



More reassuringly, over half the population is in favour of corporate

sponsorship and believes we should be grateful to companies for helping

to underwrite the project. Which must place L’Oreal - recently announced

as a support sponsor to Boots - in a positive light.



The Dome is a unique opportunity to grab the attention of UK consumers,

and L’Oreal has spotted that. There may be apathy now but, as it nears

completion, this will become one of the most talked-about topics of

1999.



And enthusiasm will build: there must be many of us who remember vowing,

’I’ll never use the Channel Tunnel’.



The idea of the 90ft body in the Millennium Dome suddenly sprouting hair

has certainly made a PR splash. Consumers have been able to visualise -

almost for the first time since the announcement of the body itself -

what might be in store for them.



L’Oreal managed to make a credible impact with its sponsorship

announcement by emphasising the direct connection between its products

and the entity it is sponsoring - unlike many of the other, bigger

sponsors, whose involvement cynics would claim is more politically than

commercially motivated.



What happens to that initial advantage remains to be seen. Presumably

L’Oreal planned the sponsorship carefully in terms of brand objectives

and relevance. Let’s see how effectively the company now exploits the

pounds 3 million investment with interesting, sustained,

through-the-line, Dome-themed promotions.



Personally I’m looking forward to getting my free entry ticket by

spending lots of money on L’Oreal products and utterly beautifying

myself in the process.



Mind you, a free ticket is one thing, but how do I actually get to the

Dome (along with the 13,999,999 other visitors)? Now there’s a unique

sponsorship opportunity. Any transport-related company out there with

some spare money in its budget?



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