Being involved in marketing and advertising, especially when sponsorships are concerned, we marketers find ourselves looking at branding in a completely different light.
The average consumer doesn't notice the punny copy on the billboard as clever writing, they just know that it makes them chuckle. The Average Joe doesn't realize that the color that is used in a print ad was put there to get him to act on impulse and purchase the beer that he is now craving.
Every once in a while an company sees an "out of the box" opportunity to elevate thier brand by offering a community service in a way that touches the fiber of humanity in the individual that is being assisted.
In the beginning of first quarter in 2008, during the major governmental budget cuts, one of the major programs that was threatened from being dissolved completely was the cavalry of FDOT's Road Rangers. This group of good summaritans sole purpose was to patrol all the major road arteries in Florida, especially those that intersected in the tourist capital of the world Orlando, Florida. They were angels on four wheels whos purpose was top you off with gas if you ran out and were stranded, tow you to safety and help you arrange a wrecker, signal emergency with flares and cones, help you change a tire, anything to keep the roads safe in Florida.
When city officials decied to dissolve the progam, companies like State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Co. recognized that this organization fit into their branding and tag line, "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there." State Farm agreed to sponsor the Florida Road Rangers program for $307,000 in March of 2009 (According to Orlando Business Journal), which was in my opinion a steal for the amount of direct impressions that have already earned. This sponsorship and teaming up with Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (Lynx) was one of the smartest moves for a brand that I have ever seen. Kudos to you, State Farm, for being there "like a good neighbor," and keeping this cavalry of good Samaritans running.
From a marketing standpoint, this sponsorship has many important pluses going for it. It has the fleet of branded vehicles, patroling, constantly being seen thus creating most likely tens of millions of impressions annually. No media would be able to get you that amount of exposure especially when the 13 trucks in rotation make around 70 service stops daily between the hours of 6:00am - 10:30pm.
It has an experiential component that is also very important, because the person in need is abandoned and has that rescued feeling when the Road Ranger comes stops to help. In that moment, that person is definably experiencing the brand with a sense of rescue. In that very moment, State Farm really is there like a good neighbor.