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Live 8.. A Marketing Opportunity?

Live 8, the “20 years later” version of the original Live Aid concerts in 1985, is set for this Saturday, July 2. I have four tickets and I am looking forward to the Barrie (Toronto) event. I know that the aim of this event is to focus awareness, and action, on global poverty and the upcoming G8 Summit in Scotland. Make Poverty History – do you remember seeing any of those TV commercials with actors and musicians snapping their fingers to signify how often somoeone in tne world dies due to poverty? – is getting lots of attention and co-branding with the Canadian event. Lots of companies are supporting Live 8 but why aren’t more of them using this as a better marketing tool…or to capture permission?

I guess the fact that the event came about relatively quickly has meant a lot of companies haven’t been able to react quickly enough. In the UK a number of companies were involved in the distribution of free tickets using text messaging. Others had Live 8 landing pages and microsites set up within days. Media companies who will be broadcasting the event live also managed to quickly get people signed up for Live 8 alerts (like when a new performer or band was announced).
I haven’t seen much of this in Canada.
I know a lot of leading companies and brands have set up “secret” crisis sites that are ready to be launched at a moments notice should something disastrous happen to their brand. Likewise, I am sure Coke is ready to defend anything new that Pepsi might be launching with their marketing…and vise versa.
So why aren’t companies better prepared for positive opportunities like Live 8?
I personally believe every company should have a plan of action in place for marketing and branding opportunities that may arise suddenly. It can be as simple as a splash site to highlight their participation in an event or cause like Live 8. Or it could be a way to communciate thoughts and actions being taken with reference to a disaster like the Asian tsunami.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about trying to capitalize on the misfortune of others, but it does present an opportunity to provide loyal brand followers and others to get information from you and be directed to other sources of relevant information…especially how you can help.
I think a number of Canadian companies have missed the boat with Live 8. What are you doing to ensure you don’t miss the boat next time it leaves the pier?


  1. Ken Schafer
    Ken Schafer June 28, 2005

    Stefan, I’m a bit uncomfortable with the idea that Live 8 should be seen as a marketing opportunity. My guess is many companies are supporting the cause because it is a good one and if there is a certain halo effect on their brand, then great.
    But the risk of eager marketers looking at this as an opportunity to capitalize on a charitable event could turn many off.
    Still, I absolutely agree with the fundamental case you are making which is that companies need to have contingency plans to benefit from opportunities that the market hands them and to react to natural and man-made disasters and tragedies.
    So I guess the question to your readers is “Does Live 8 represent a marketing opportunity or is it best to stay clear for fear of pushback on commercializing the cause?”
    Before we give a knee-jerk “this is a bad idea”, let’s pull it back to an Internet Marketing context and look at a less black-and-white example. Technorati has set up a special page dedicated to Live 8 and if you google “Live 8” you’ll find that the Technorati site is the top listing – surpassing the official site.
    Is Technorati treating this as a marketing opportunity? And if so, is it wrong to do so? Certainly millions of people will visit Technorati’s site in the coming days – did they see an opportunity others missed?
    And what of AOL’s promotion on the Live 8 site? They’re presenting much of the content online, which is good for Live 8, and good for the world. But it also certainly good for AOL.

  2. Stefan Eyram
    Stefan Eyram June 30, 2005

    Ken, you make some very good comments. As a matter of fact, I probably visit the Live 8 content on the Technorati site more than I do the official Live 8 site.
    I think that many sponsors can better optimize their relationship with an event or brand like Live 8. I feel the UK – and even US – sponsors are doing a better job than Canadian sponsors are at this time. Maybe this is because they have had more of a head start as their events were scheduled way before the Canadian event.
    I don’t believe anyone should take advantage, or misuse, a worthy cause like Live 8 or Make Poverty History. People will see through that pretty quickly and may end up eroding their brand value in the eyes of the marketplace. Where a brand can benefit, however, is when they add value to the cause. You mentioned AOL. They are adding value by broadcasting the event. They are hyping it up and they are reaping the benefit of being associated with the Live 8 brand and buzz. I don’t see the same thing happening in Canada. Rogers and CTV are sponsors but I barely notice that.
    In the end I believe something like Live 8 can be a valuable marketing asset if leveraged properly.

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