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Raising the crowd of special spectators

Raising the crowd of special spectators Becca Bleznak

Everyone at the iMedia Agency Summit in Lost Pines, Texas agreed: The phrase "cause marketing" is over. Instead of desperately trying to find a cause to align your agency with in order to appeal to consumers, the time has come to discover how your mission aligns with that of an organization that you care about, in order to authentically provide awareness.

Blake Rockwell stands at the forefront of one such opportunity. While spending time at children's hospitals, he discovered that of the many afflicted with cancer or other debilitating diseases, almost of them expressed a love for sports. Rockwell was also surprised to learn that very few of them had ever attended a game, which to him seemed like such a simple concept.

From this, Special Spectators was born. The organization offers kids what most call "the greatest day of [their] life." In a short video presentation, we see three young children not just attending a college football game, but having a real game day experience.

What exactly does that entail? Noah, Trevor, and Madeline tried on the gear of their favorite players, welcomed them as they walked into the stadium, were interviewed by a camera crew, came out on the field as part of a special stadium announcement, and celebrated with the team after the game. As Rockwell said, it's about making them part of the team.

As a completely volunteer-run organization, Special Spectators depends upon partnerships. Some of these are through multimedia rights holders, specifically for the assets within the stadium. But they offer multiple touchpoints that appeal to potential partners, including massive reach and unparalleled access to a huge audience. This experience itself, as well as media assets, is sort of experiential marketing meets classic ad marketing.

The fact is, sports fans want to buy from brands that do good, and are tied to a cause. In fact, 84 percent of consumers consider a brand's social commitment. An experiential cause such as this one offers media partners a chance to join in wherever it best suits them.

Special Spectators is looking for more help: Everything from simply spreading awareness, to donating inventory, to technology that can aid increasing their reach. Rockwell expresses a desire to do more socially -- perhaps find partners that can help them with streaming. Right now, they're developing a texting component, allowing the experience to continue on after the game for the children in question. It's a work in progress, but with assistance, Special Spectators will only continue to grow.

Becca is currently an editor at iMedia Connection, as well as a freelance entertainment writer for ScreenPicks.com and The Televixen. In the past, she has worked as a social media/community manager at SEO Savvy, Empower Digital, and Mahalo. ...

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