These days, it’s rare to see an event that isn’t jam-packed with sponsorship logos. Sporting events are branded. Concerts are branded. Schools are branded. Even war is branded. So why wouldn’t a spectacle like the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball Drop be branded?
With its massive electronic screens and giant billboards, Times Square is one of, if not the, most desirable piece of outdoor advertising real estate in the world – and the ball drop is its biggest event. The Times Square Advertising Coalition, a group created in 2009, works to ensure that Times Square “remains the most colorful and vibrant commercial corridor on earth,” and a single cab ride through Times Square proves that the coalition is doing its job really, really well.
Especially when it comes to New Year’s. For the past ten years, Waterford has sponsored the actual crystal ball (or at least, its surface; the ball itself went LED in 2007). For the third year straight, Nivea is the official sponsor of the New Year’s Eve celebration, and along with sponsoring a stage called the Nivea Kiss Platform, it will hand out about 30,000 samples of lip balm to revelers in the hours before the countdown. The Duracell Power Lab in Times Square, which opened on November 30th, consists of four stationary bikes that when pedaled charge batteries that will subsequently be used to light the New Year’s sign behind the ball drop. And for the first year, Get Married Media, which publishes Get Married magazine and hosts a Web site, GetMarried.com, is helping sponsor the event, including a contest for a New Year’s Eve wedding in Times Square.
But whereas sponsorships at other events usually irk me to no end, I’m not upset about all these New Year’s Eve Ball Drop sponsorships. In fact, quite the opposite; I actually think they’re kind of fun. Why? Because the events’ producers – the Times Square Advertising Coalition and Countdown Entertainment – insist that its sponsors be organically integrated into the event, rather than just slapping any ole logo onto the crystal ball. And this requires a certain amount of creativity on the part of brands, which is really the way it should be. “There are some sponsors that we say no to because it’s not a natural fit,” said Jeffrey Straus, president of Countdown Entertainment in a New York Times’ article published on Tuesday. “This is first and foremost a civic event for New York City and sponsors have to tie into that event without it being a commercial message.”
Gotta love that kind of integrity, in an era when money talks, no matter what the occasion. But it’s still not enough to draw me out into those crowds on New Year’s. I may like to have soft lips…but fortunately, I can have them in the comfort and warmth of my own home.