Page 4: Sponsorship
Another key area of sponsorship for Dr. Martens is the arts and particularly areas of the arts which are associated with young people with ‘attitude’ (i.e. people who have a non-conformist streak to them). Dr. Martens sponsorship is carefully matched to events and approaches which reflect the brand’s key attributes. In 1997, Dr. Martens sponsored the National Youth Theatre’s Summer Season which started with performances at the Edinburgh Festival. One of the productions, ‘Have You Seen This Girl?’ was linked with the housing charity Shelter and Schuh retail stores. Dr. Martens gave £1 to Shelter for every ticket sold for the play and Schuh donated £1 for every pair of Dr. Martens footwear sold in its Edinburgh outlets during the two weeks the play ran.
In addition to Edinburgh, three plays sponsored by Dr. Martens ran in London during September – ‘biloxi Blues’, a female version of ‘The Odd Couple’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Each year, one young member of the National Youth Theatre is approached by an agent to go on (hopefully) to bigger and better things in the world of acting. In 1997, five NYT members were approached and the NYT believes this was a direct consequence of the high profile the Season received as a result of Dr. Martens sponsorship.
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival
In 1998, Dr. Martens sponsored the following productions at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival – ‘Dancing at Luhnasa’, ‘Kissing Angels’ and ‘Dumped’. One of the most exciting projects that Dr. Martens has been involved in is the sponsorship of the Belfast-based Tinderbox Theatre Company. Typically Tinderbox plays to an audience of students and young people with few financial commitments. The company reaches 18-25 year olds in Northern Ireland through a marketing campaign targeted at pubs and clubs.
Tinderbox was recommended to Dr. Martens as a new, young theatre company worth supporting. In 1997, it was producing a new play called ‘Dumped’. The play was about a failed stand-up comic who had been dumped by his girlfriend and who enlisted the help of two people to get his own back. It was, in the words of the press release, a play ‘about love, comedy, vengeance....a play for anyone who had ever thrown out an old sofa or been DUMPED!’
The play opened to rave reviews and Dr. Martens was seen as being at the cutting edge of arts sponsorship in Northern Ireland, winning a major award for its pairing with the theatre company. As part of the sponsorship, Dr Martens agreed to give £1 to the Simon Community, Ireland’s version of Shelter, for every person who went to see the play. The Company found that attendances increased and the sponsorship received widespread coverage in newspapers, TV and radio. Typical audiences for the play were made up of between 50 and 80% of 18-25 year olds. This had the additional benefit of enabling Dr. Martens to communicate with its target audience, building awareness of the Dr. Martens brand. Chris Smith, the Heritage Secretary, highlighted Dr. Martens involvement as an example of how businesses in Northern Ireland should be doing more for the arts. Dr. Martens is now sponsoring Tinderbox’s new play ‘Second-hand Thunder’.