This past Friday, I got an email inviting me to see Renee Fleming at Millennium Park…FREE.
I quickly gathered together a group of friends via email and Twitter. We trundled our lawn chairs and wine bottles down to the park.
It was thronged.
Sponsoring Ms. Fleming was part of a larger effort to make opera relevant to the uninitiated. The Lyric Opera used the event to launch their new season and their new marketing campaign themed “Long Live Passion”.
People were invited to tweet it up (a hash tag was announced from the stage) and the best tweetsters were awarded a set of season tix.
Ms. Fleming did not disappoint. In honor of the families of the victims of 9/11 she belted out “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. People sat in total silence, no one moved, a rare achievement for a rowdy outdoor crowd that size.
We sat next to an elderly couple who’ve been members of the Lyric for 20 years. They were hip and hilarious. We merged our picnics. I helped them back to their car and we embraced when said our goodbyes.
This is why event sponsorship works. It helps people make a human connection. Yes, Renee Fleming was terrific. Yes, it was a soft, Indian-summer evening easy to enjoy. But it was the human exchange that made the event sing.
I counsel my clients to pay attention to the human connections they need to forge to make their brands relevant. As our world and our identities grow ever more fractured, it’ll be the human bonds we make that will be the glue in our lives. And we will reward the brands that sponsor these moments with our loyalty.
Long live passion.