Cheering charities

In February, she will represent the organization at Oklahoma City Thunder games through an ad campaign that will splash her image – and message – across television screens and billboards around the city. But she’s not planning to do anything fancy; she will just tell people about her organization.

“I’ll just be me,” she says. Boys & Girls Clubs is one of six nonprofits chosen by Chesapeake Energy Corp. to reap the benefits of its media resources associated with the company’s sponsorship of Chesapeake Energy Arena, home of the Thunder.

“There are certain advertising opportunities that come in the package with our naming rights,” says Michael Kehs, Chesapeake vice president of strategic affairs and public relations.

The Cheering for Champions program came about as company officials explored ways to help nonprofits in the community. Chesapeake poured its sponsorship dollars into the program to promote the nonprofits. It includes television and radio spots, signage throughout the arena, ads in game programs, messages on the exterior digital billboard, videos on social media, and displays on six digital billboards around town.

“We’ve been looking at how we connect with the community,” Kehs says. “This campaign flows out of something that has been going on at Chesapeake since we were founded.”

Each of the six nonprofits is featured for one month during the regular NBA season. Kehs says it is a way for the energy company to give those organizations a resource generally out of their reach.

“They are spending money on their constituency,” he says. “They’re not into self-promotion.”

Dan Mahoney, spokesman for the Thunder, says the naming rights began in the 2011-2012 season. The agreement is for naming rights for 12 years at an annual cost of $3 million, with a 3% annual escalation.

Chesapeake describes the value of the effort as “priceless,” but Tim Berney, president of VI Marketing and Branding, says the value could be estimated at between $150,000 to $200,000 for each nonprofit’s month in the spotlight. He says the program can reap additional donations from fans by raising awareness with a key demographic. At games, fans are given a number to text to send a donation to the featured organization.

“Since a good portion of the people who have season tickets to the Thunder [games] are higher-than-average income, this is a good audience for nonprofits to be in front of,” Berney says.

Sutter found out in October that her organization had been chosen by Chesapeake for the
Thunder promotion. At first, she didn’t realize the scope of the
project. After seeing the materials created for the Regional Food Bank
and Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity, she realized it was an
all-out ad campaign with spots filmed at Chesapeake, and whimsical
artwork to accompany the printed materials and signage.

“I
continue to be amazed,” she says. With a limited window to get the word
out, Sutter says she simply wants to raise awareness for the
organization.

“A lot
of people don’t know what we do,” she says. “We really have a
significant impact by helping the kids and helping the community.”

Berney says the program provides the organizations with a level of exposure that doesn’t come along often.

“What
they are doing is valuable to the nonprofits, as it is providing them
with exposure that they otherwise could not obtain,” he says. “And, with
Chesapeake handling the production of the materials, it is really a
great opportunity for the nonprofits.”

Charitable
organizations should enjoy Chesapeake’s donations while they last. In a
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing Jan. 7, the company
reported it significantly would reduce annual budgeted charitable
donations and other expenditures in 2013.

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