The Stunt: Grabbing attention today with an age-old concept & a young Jimmy Kimmel story

This week on The Inches Podcast I got to sit down with Rich Franklin, VP of sponsorship for the Portland Winterhawks, to chat on sports sponsorship.

Quick back story, Rich & I work together on digital activations for the Portland Winterhawks and we get talking about strategies based on his many years in the radio & sports sponsorship business.

He’s now a co-host because I couldn’t keep having these convos without getting them on audio. The value I get every day

In this episode, we chat about The Stunt. An age-old concept that is now even more easily applied with the tools we have in digital. Listen HERE

Here are some notes from our episode:

What is a Stunt?

A Stunt is a planned event to grab attention and turn the conversation. As Rich explains the goal is to grab attention in the market when announcing a big change. His examples below are great stunts from the 1980s (there is a way to tie into digital of today so stay with me).

Example from Rich with a young, fresh out of college Jimmy Kimmel

Again this is why I had to get this on wax with Rich. He had 2 beautiful examples of stunts from his time in the radio business.

Rich started in the radio biz in Seattle and while there his station hired a young Jimmy Kimmel onto a morning show with KZOK in order to pump some life into the station.

You could just announce it, make it known to the news stations, and that would be that.

Rich explains they wanted the change to get noticed (compared to all the other stations out there) and especially get noticed by your primary listener to raise your profile in the marketplace.

So they had Jimmy and his co-host drive down the highway in downtown Seattle on a giant steam pipe organ while doing some segments of their show on the organ.

Talk about a stunt for the ages (especially if Seattle traffic was as bad then in the 1980s)! Could you imagine driving down the highway during rush hour and seeing a giant pipe organ?

You would absolutely tell everyone about it.

When Do You Need A Stunt?

Again on Rich’s examples, a stunt should be used where there is a change that you are deploying into your marketplace and need to get noticed. For them, it was trying to get people in the Seattle marketplace to listen to their morning show over the others.

Are you the #2 team in your marketplace and looking to get to #1? Create a stunt to drive attention from fans to push consideration for your team.

Do you have a new philosophy or product that needs to get out there? Don’t just post it, use a stunt to grab attention.

If you are looking to make major moves in a market…you need a stunt to drive that movement.

Why it’s easier today to pull off a stunt than ever before? Digital.

Rich will hate me for putting it like this but…back in his day… getting awareness for a stunt was costly.

For his example with Garth Brooks (Listen to the podcast to hear this one, it is really good) Rich had to buy billboards and direct mail campaigns in Zip Codes that they knew would have their target market.

Let’s think about the costs there:

  1. Market research to know these are your hot zips
  2. The billboards to put up in those zips
  3. The mail campaigns to push to addresses in the zips

We are talking about THOUSANDS in overhead to pull this off back in Rich’s day

Today…you can do all of this through social media ads:

  1. A content video you can pull off with your phone or GoPro
  2. Target your city on FB with interests in items that fit your target market (Sports)
  3. Pay $0.30 per click on the ads

We are talking MAYBE hundreds of dollars for a full-fledged push.

Let’s take the Jimmy Kimmel story and put it in today’s digital age. If you pulled the pipe organ on the highway stunt, you would just have to Facebook Live the entire thing and for almost nothing, you would be able to reach a huge amount of people.

The moral of the story, in today’s age, anyone can pull off a Stunt for cheap.

Long Term Stunt Vs. Short Term Stunt

Quickly I want to bring up an intriguing take on Stunts that came up in the episode. In my mind, you can have short-term & long-term stunts.

On the short-term side, a stunt might be to grab attention quickly with something like the Jimmy Kimmel story. This will unequivocally work for the long term…but has a shelf life.

Let’s think about this in the long term though. What if your stunt is to systematically and organizationally change something where others aren’t?

Rich brings up the long-term stunt of offering digital assets for sponsors. At the Winterhawks and in the Portland Oregon market he competes with some behemoths for teams, the Trailblazers & Timbers.

Rich knew he couldn’t head-to-head compete with them on impressions or brand name, so he looked at offering digital assets that neither of those teams had for his long-term stunt.

By offering more digital assets, he is grabbing sponsor attention by being different in the market and offering something they need.

The long-term stunt for him is a shift to offering digital. There is no grandiose launch…but he is capturing attention by focusing on a new strategy as he walks into those meetings.

In my mind, you should always have a long-term stunt in addition to your short-term stunt.

Make Stunting A Habit

As you think about your stunting, I challenge you to make it a habit with all you do. That doesn’t mean over stunt with something every time you have something to change…but I would challenge you that if you want to move up in a market or are doing something new, make sure you put this strategy behind it.

Next week on The Inches Podcast I ask Rich what happens to sponsorship during a recession…which is huge for me as the last one started when I graduated high school, so I have no idea what changes business-wise.



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