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Branded communities- the next frontier in corporate sponsorship? If Nissan's sponsorship of an Arizona development is any indication, the answer is "Yes." Nissan has entered into an agreement to be "the official automobile" of the Westgate City Center, a residential and commercial development in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale. Among the marketing assets Nissan receives in the deal are three 100-foot billboards and sponsorship of a concert series. The reach of the sponsorship extends beyond the 2,200 residential units of the development; the presence of hotels, shopping, an NHL team and NFL team all will contribute to pulling in audiences to the area.

This deal brings out the best and worst about sponsorship. The positive is that Nissan may have found a great way to reach a desirable demographic through means other than mass media advertising. The sponsorship can be particularly powerful if Nissan has interactive exhibits at the concert series events and sporting events as well as utilize direct mail to target residents in the development in an effort to persuade visits to dealerships. The negative is that another demarcation between commercialism and everyday life has been erased. Are there no limits to aspects of our lives that can be commercialized? Nissan seems to be walking a fine line between reaching an audience and intruding on them. The sponsorship has the potential to be effective... if Nissan is mindful of not commericalizing it too much. Link

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