Muskegon Festival

April 10, 2002
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MUSKEGON — Organizers of Summer Celebration hope the signing of DaimlerChrysler as a sponsor will lead to further corporate support for the annual festival that draws thousands of people annually to downtown Muskegon.

The three-year, six-figure deal with DaimlerChrysler represents the first time a multi-national corporation has agreed to support Summer Celebration and is “by far” the largest corporate sponsorship ever for the event, festival Marketing Director Pat Driscoll said.

Summer Celebration over the years has increasingly relied on corporate sponsorships and partnerships, predominately from local firms and corporations with local interests. The festival hopes to generate about $400,000 through sponsorships this year to support its $2.2 million operating budget.

Driscoll hopes the DaimlerChrysler deal sets a precedent for further involvement in the festival by large, global corporations.

“We’re pretty tickled with it,” he said. “We’re hopeful some other corporations will come up and take notice and that will open some other doors for us, too.”

Under the deal, DaimlerChrysler will sponsor Summer Celebration’s main entertainment stage at Heritage Landing during the 11-day festival that runs June 27 through July 7. DaimlerChrysler will receive recognition in promotional and marketing materials, on-site banners and space on the festival grounds to display its Jeep and Chrysler vehicles. Ads from corporate sponsors shown before and after performances on television monitors located at the entertainment venues also will tout DaimlerChrysler products.

Sponsorships and partnerships have become an increasingly important element of planning for annual festivals, as organizers seek to further tap corporate resources for help in staging and expanding their events, and corporations look for new ways in which to promote their goods and services. A festival essentially offers the sponsor a unique venue to promote its products to a relatively captive audience, as well as the opportunity to generate goodwill in a community by providing support for a popular event.

The DaimlerChrysler sponsorship has “a real message in it about West Michigan” and its appeal to corporate America, Driscoll said.

“It’s a real recognition on their part of the significance of West Michigan and Summer Celebration as a way to connect with the community,” Driscoll said.

DaimlerChrysler in the last year has sought to align itself with events as a way to promote its vehicles in regional markets, said Dan Cook, the corporation’s Chrysler and Jeep brand marketing manager for the Midwest Business Center.

Summer Celebration, with its emphasis on summer and family fun, provides the automaker the proper marketing vehicle in West Michigan, Cook said.

“We always want to do things that can make sense for our brand and get more consideration from the buying public,” Cook said. “It’s a good investment on our end.”

Summer Celebration last year raised about $320,000 through marketing arrangements with 25 companies, Driscoll said. The festival for 2002 has signed agreements with 30 businesses.

While the festival has begun to seek partnerships with large corporations to expand its sponsorship base and help it grow as an event, organizers are not pulling away from their traditional roots, Driscoll said. Local corporate support for Summer Celebration will always represent the backbone of the festival, he said.

The allure of major sponsors such as DaimlerChrysler is reflective of the region and its growing appeal, he said.

“We’re just expanding. We just realize as the event grows and takes in more of the West Michigan community, there’s probably going to be a desire among more organizations that do want to do business with us,” Driscoll said.

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