Commercial: Liverpool brand stories 2
Buying the naming rights to a new building is relatively unchallenged as a means of raising awareness of a brand. After all, it gives you long-term visibility and, in theory, a commensurate impact, for presumably an equal or better return than investing in say, frequent TV exposure.
Less clear is the decision making process on the buyers side that leads to the choice of of a building to name. If you're looking to reach a male 18-34 audience, for example, clearly you want a sports stadium. If you're looking to move your brand away from just being about mobiles, why not take on an elephant in South East London?
But what if you're a legacy telco incumbent, with money to burn? What building do you go for? And why?
BT has answered that question by sponsoring ACC's Convention Centre in Liverpool, next door to the Echo Arena. Proximity which hints that it's a curious decision by BT.
For the Echo has a reason to sponsor the arena - as one of the main media brands, it needs to have a visible physical presence in the city, and exploit cross-media opportunities where they arise.
BT doesn't have that rationale. Instead, it suggests that:
Which implies that, the Council offered BT some sort of quid pro quo/protection racket type deal, that it had to sponsor the venue in order to get the joint venture opportunity.
Sponsorship of the BT Convention Centre builds upon the strategic partnership BT has with Liverpool City Council and its social and economic investment in the region. Merseyside is a key region for BT. It supports over 25,000 jobs in the North West and last year generated £875 million for the area.
Together, Liverpool City Council and BT have achieved some tremendous successes over the past few years. In 2001, the two organisations entered into a new partnership and a Joint Venture company, known as Liverpool Direct Ltd was formed. The partnership was set up to help the Council achieve its “seaport to e-port” vision, modernising the way the Local Authority provided services to its citizens and by 2017, will have saved taxpayers an estimated £150m.
I'm sure that's not the case, but it still doesn't say what the brand gets out of this arrangement. It's not as if the building is of huge architectural significance or bleeding edge quality, so it's not adding any lustre to BT in that sense.
Maybe it's as simple as making BT more famous: the Labour Party will have it's conference there in 2011. Which should mean a lot of TV exposure. For free.