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San Diego Pops Is Music to Corporate Sponsors' Ears

May 13, 1986|GREG JOHNSON | Times Staff Writer

Although bottled water, hydraulic lifts and fire equipment don't seem to mesh with Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Glenn Miller, the San Diego Pops Assn. will use that peculiar blend of the practical and the musical to turn Hospitality Point into a "cabaret on the bay" during the coming summer season.

As in past seasons, the pops has been searching for a cadre of corporate sponsors to absorb the costs of the water, lifts and fire equipment--as well as the bleachers, fireworks, scaffolding and tablecloths--that help transform the grassy point into a classy concert area.

In order to bolster its corporate support, the pops has developed an advertising and marketing campaign that has supplanted the "personal contacts" that the association previously had used to attract corporate contributions, according to marketing director Nancy Hafner.

Corporations can select from various marketing and advertising contribution programs, including:

A $7,500 contribution that identifies the company as the sponsor of shuttle buses that carry concertgoers from nearby parking lots to the band shell.

A $2,000 contribution finances a one-night sponsorship that includes 12 seats in the pops' cabaret area and 20 seats in the gallery. The corporation's name is printed on that night's tickets and in the Performing Arts magazine given to concertgoers. Each performance's sponsor is mentioned from the stage before the performance.

For $15,000, a corporation can sponsor two weeks of the season. That level of involvement brings 50 cabaret seats, 30 gallery seats, and the corporation's name is included in the nightly fireworks display.

If those options aren't attractive, Hafner said, the pops will work with individual companies on specialty packages.

Not surprisingly, the pops spotlight shines brightest on the corporate sponsors.

Fashion Valley Mall and Coca-Cola Bottling of San Diego, which are joining forces for the second year in a row, will co-sponsor the orchestra's weeklong Tchaikovsky Extravaganza in August, said Marilee Bankert, a spokeswoman for Fashion Valley Mall and a member of the pops board of directors.

Fashion Valley Mall sponsors the Pops because "we like to do nice things for our shoppers," said Bankert, who explained that shoppers fill out in-store coupons to qualify for ticket drawings.

From a business point of view, the sponsorship serves as a "combination traffic builder--a way to bring people into our stores--and a way to serve the community," Bankert said. "We've found that people really like it. They really respond to it because it's a fun evening and it's free."

"Being a sponsor is really in everyone's best interest," suggested Dick Haack, public relations manager for Home Federal, which will sponsor the Glenn Miller Orchestra "Swingtime" program in August.

Home Federal, which donated $25,000 in 1984 to buy folding chairs for the pops, continues to sponsor programs because the pops "stimulates the vitality of communities within our marketplace," according to Haack.

Buying the chairs was a "fantastic bit of public relations," acknowledged Marlee Ehrenfeld, administrative officer of public relations for Great American First Savings Bank. "You do generate publicity but it's inherently a goodwill gesture that's not quite as self-serving as buying an ad."

In its own bit of soft sell, Great American last year donated champagne glasses--which bear the S&L's stylized logo--that will be used again this season.

As part of its sponsorship of the pops' "American Salute" program during the July 4 weekend, Great American will pass out American flags that include a special reference to the Statue of Liberty.

Great American has also "bought the house" for one night in order to treat its employees and select clients, Ehrenfeld said.

The S&L will use that night to celebrate the retirement of two longtime members of its board of directors--Bob Sullivan and Ed Hall.

The pops also has been asking radio and television stations to sign on as media hosts, an arrangement that involves the trading of advertising time for an affiliation with the Pops.

The program gives the financially strapped pops "the ability to advertise on far more radio stations than we'd normally be able to afford," Hafner said.

"From a business point of view, we're trying to accomplish two things" by acting as a media host for the "Evening with Amadeus in July, said Larry Shushan, general manager of KGMG (Magic 102, FM) and KNNC-AM, (K-News 1320) in Oceanside. "We're trying to help establish a cultural event that's vital to our county. But it also helps our image, too, in that we want to be associated with an organization like the San Diego Symphony."

Shushan, who played double bass for the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the 1950s, plans to be on center stage during one evening with Amadeus.

By paying $500, Shushan qualified for the pops' Golden Baton program, which means he'll be the conductor for one of the orchestra's pieces.

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