Chuck Mangione may trumpet the merits of Memorex. Earth, Wind & Fire may dance through a TV endorsement of Panasonic. But the Rolling Stones "tie-in" with Jovan, one of the big-three fragrance marketers, is making a different kind of noise.
Jovan's corporate image-makers have assessed the promotional possibilities in Mick Jagger's swagger and launched a multimillion dollar deal, the first national rock 'n' roll sponsorship of major proportions. Locally, WWDC-AM-FM and Woodward & Lothrop have been cashing in on Jumpin' Jack's flash in advance of concerts scheduled for tonight, Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
J. Walter Thompson advertising executives began discussions with the group's business managers in June to find an exclusive sponsor who would pay, not for a product endorsement, but simply the association of a name with the rock group. When Jovan was signed, Advertising Age called the liaison "a coup of immeasurable proportion" for the firm.
For a reported $3 million, Jovan bought exclusive rights as sponsor, entitling the company to concert tickets--worth almost more than money, to judge by scalper's prices--which in turn enable Jovan to barter for mentions on radio stations in some 150 markets. Additionally, Jovan's name appears on every ticket--some 2 million by the time the tour is over.
Promotional giveaways sporting Jovan's name include the usual jerseys, jackets, T-shirts and posters, plus some innovative twists. A tie-in through major retailers offers an "official Jovan 1981 Rolling Stones American Tour Poster" for $1 with any $5 purchase of a Jovan product. The poster depicts the "official" tour logo: the Stones' familiar red lips-and-tongue design emerging from the "o" in Jovan. Use of the logo by radio stations or chain store clients of Jovan is permitted only through the end of the year.
The target of Jovan's campaign is the 16- to 34-year-old audience. The psychology of sponsorship: a product becomes hip by association.
Listen to the ad men. Jovan thinks of itself as "bold and daring," a phrase that surfaces repeatedly in conversation with David Miller, the company's director of advertising. "The Rolling Stones are considered provocative, sensual, iconoclastic, and we don't shrink from that. We've always been a fragrance for people who aren't afraid to do things a little differently," he says. "We made a whole fragrance based on an animal note Musk Oil back in 1971."
James Vail, a 26-year-old account executive for J. Walter Thompson in Chicago, stood in line for Stones concert tickets in Seattle three years ago and never got them. Now, having engineered the Jovan deal as tour project director, he figures Stones fans will make the connection between music and sponsor, expressing their gratitude for ticket freebies--and, perhaps subconsciously, for Jagger in general--the next time they pass a cologne counter.
"Jovan's image matches the Stones' almost identically," Vail contends. "They're young, aggressive, their products are controversial, innovative." A bluejeans manufacturer would have been "too downscale," he says. Beer would have been perfect, he says, and Schlitz came close to signing a deal, but "the spirit of the company wouldn't have been in synch."
(A Schlitz spokeswoman said the company is already involved with several music groups, including Kool and the Gang, the Commodores, and Mickey Gilley, and when JWT, also the Schlitz agency, presented the opportunity, the brewer declined to sponsor the Stones as "an internal business decision.")
Vail says he's confident about the "dice-rolling" he's done on Jovan's part. Particularly compared with some rock groups, the Stones are a good bet. So far they've played 30 concert dates without a miss. Taking risks, he suggests, is a matter of Jovan's "bold, daring" image that he believes has paid off since its start in 1968: the company anticipates $150 million in sales this year.
In Washington, radio station competition for tie-in promotional perks was reportedly strong, with the concert scheduled for the end of an important ratings-sweep period. WWDC (which is also represented by JWT) was given the privilege of calling itself the "official" Stones radio outlet in town, in exchange for a certain number of on-air plugs and advertisements. The "official" distinction, of course, is calculated to flag the station's 18- to 34-year-old target audience.
Frank Burns, WWDC director of advertising, made a five-page presentation to Jovan, outlining not only how often but also how creatively the station would promote the sponsor. And WWDC has been bombarding listeners with Jovan plugs since the tour's September start. "Every time a DJ plays a Stones song, they make a conversational mention," Burns says. As the "official" station, WWDC was able to buy 600 concert tickets with which to lure listeners through contests and giveaways.
Jovan gave WWDC (DC101) tickets to concerts in every city on the tour. The station has paid air fare, hotel accommodations and $101 spending money to winners of various promotional contests.
Rick Fowler, director of advertising and promotion for competitor WRQX-FM, feels his station's unofficial status hasn't hurt. He and 15 staffers plus friends stood in line at the Cap Centre the night tickets went on sale and bought "hundreds" for on-air giveaways. With WWDC currently holding a slim lead in the Arbitron ratings, the January ratings book may reflect the outcome of the Stones' promotional gambit.