Similar to last year, when we asked this question to our representative sample of 13-25-year-olds across 49 different locations, we left this as an opened-ended question to allow respondents the opportunity to name top things a sponsor can do to grab their attention. The results were put into buckets of top responses.

Overall, the most important thing a sponsor can do to attract attention is to Give out free stuff at 40%, which has increased from 33.8% last year. This drops to Support a good cause at 10.4% which has increased since last year from 3.5% and indicates the growing importance of humanitarian, environmental, and the philanthropic nature of today’s youth culture in North American overall. This aspect should be noted (see also our Humanitarian Youth (Green Marketing) Culture Profile Report 2008).

3rd overall at 8.1% is Approach and talk to me at events, which has increased from 4.6% last year and indicates another significant change for the sponsorship and advertising industries (especially for those trying to attract females). This is followed by 7.4% that say Endorse Musicians/Bands I like in your marketing; 6.4% say Have a friendly staff that care about what they are promoting; 5.8% say Create creative, eye-catching marketing; 5.5% say Give out product samples; 2.5% say Use good music I like in ads and at events, which is tied with Make your booth interactive; 2.2% say Use humor in ads and at events; 2.1% say Use a celebrity to endorse your product; and 1.8% say Be honest in ads and messages, which is tied with Be involved in my lifestyle (see charts and graphs for additional top aspects).

Based on years covering and producing events and sponsorship programs around the world, we often see poorly executed sponsorship programs based on a disconnect between the brand sponsoring an event, and the actuation on site–usually performed by the agency. This is often indicated with using music that doesn’t reflect the audience, unoriginal ads and booth features, bad product samples that have nothing to do with the audience, too complicated on-site sponsorship ideas, and a lack of truly creative and original marketing. In addition, many young people are interested in charities or the brand’s relationship to non-profits, and honesty in ads and marketing. The overall results to this question quantify what tends to work in sponsorship programs to grab attention vs. what doesn’t.

By gender, there are some interesting differences to note. First and foremost, while both genders rank Give out free stuff as #1, 46.8% of males rank this as the #1 aspect compared with 38% of females. Support a good cause is 2nd for both genders indicating the importance of non-profits and association with non-profits, especially among females at 10.9% compared with 8.5%–even though this is very high for males as well. Other distinct differences by gender are that 8.6% of females say Approach and talk to me at events compared with 6.1% of males. Generally, this tactic is not as well received among young males as we’ve also noted in last year’s Report. Other distinct differences by gender are that 7.9% of females say Endorse Musicians/Bands I like in your marketing compared with 5.6% of males, and 7.1% of females said Have friendly staff that care about what they are promoting compared with 3.7% of males. For this latter concern, we still find it quite interesting that often on-site personal come across to attendees as not really caring about the brand they’re representing. However in many cases, it’s not that the person managing on site that starts off as being negative, but rather, they feel disconnected or that the brand they are working with doesn’t value their input and feedback, resulting in a lackadaisical attitude on site.

Other differences to note are that 7% of males say Create creative eye-catching marketing compared with 5.4% of females. Humor and being involved in my lifestyle are also two other aspects that are higher among males that females.

Overall, by gender (and age groups), there are distinct differences in preferences in the very ONE thing that can capture their attention and should be noted. This can make all of the difference in making or breaking a campaign and such traits unfortunately are often not measured or simply overlooked, resulting in poor execution of sponsorship or advertising strategies -which ironically is often blamed on the event itself instead of the sponsorship program.

By age groups, there are interesting differences which indicate that age again, is a key factor when understanding sponsorship effectiveness. For example, older demographics have higher percentages that say Give out free stuff, although this is high across all age groups. 13-14-year-olds and 15-17-year-olds have the highest percentages that say Support a good cause. Approach and talk to me at events is also of utmost importance among 13-17-year-olds, but drops the older the age group, whereas Endorse Musicians/Bands I like in your marketing peaks among 15-17-year-olds at 8.6% of this age group, and at its lowest among 21-25-year-olds at 3.7%. Create creative, eye-catching marketing increases the older the age group, as does Give out free product samples.

Overall, this question reveals a great deal about where sponsorship is most effective and what works and what doesn’t based on gender and age groups. It also reveals what’s becoming more important among this new generation of consumers, such as Free stuff, good causes, and music associations.

The Sponsorship, Advertising, Marketing Effectiveness Youth Culture Profile Report 2008 is available for free to Premium subscribers. For more information, email; (323) 630-4000.