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  • Wife Carrying and Bog Snorkeling Helps Create Consumer Brand Awareness 1 comment
    Oct 6, 2010 9:20 PM | about stocks: UN, BRK.B, HOG, HD, JNJ, KO
    I was surfin' the Internet the other day, looking for the latest results for the Annual North American Wife Carrying Contest held in Bethel, Maine this month. For those unfamiliar with this international sport, it may come as somewhat of a shock that the competition was originally developed in Finland in the late 1800's. It is said to have deep roots in the local Finnish history, and was started as an enlisted man's test of strength prior to military service. The contest dates back to the days when it was common practice to steal women from neighboring villages.

    In the modern contest, the contestants choose a female (over the age of 17 and not necessarily their actual wife), and carry them around a 253.5-meter track with two dry obstacles and a water hazard. Contestants run the track in pairs and the quickest time wins. There is a 15-second penalty for dropping the woman carried.

    Taisto Miettinen, from Finland, was
    the winner of the Wife Carrying World Championships in 2009 and 2010. He is the oldest winning contestant, age 45, and has won 9 medals in wife carrying World Championship competitions.The winner usually receives the equivalent of the wife's weight in beer and other valuable prizes.

    I then stumbled onto another interesting competition - Irish Bog Snorkeling. The official Bog Snorkeling course is a 60-yard trench cut into a Wales peat moss bog. Snorkelers are allowed to wear snorkels and flippers, but conventional swimming strokes are banned in this race. A field of 51 competitors is assembled from around the world (including the USA). The winning time this year was 1.52 minutes and is only the third time a winner has broken the two-minute mark. The slowest time clocked in at 5.08 minutes.

    Intriguingly, Irish Bog Snorkeling was at one time sponsored by Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. Ben & Jerry’s is part of Unilever (NYSE:UN).  As one of the world's weirdest sporting events, it has been covered by Sky News and BBC Worldwide Service. The event was also a live radio broadcast over the BBC in Scotland, Manchester, Belfast and Oxford. The print media picked up the story and it was covered in the Metro London newspapers and the Shropshire Star.

    A Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream banner was hung over the official starting and finish line, and the winners were photographed accepting their trophies underneath a large Ice Cream advertisement. Ben & Jerry's received huge amounts of publicity by sponsoring this quirky contest of just 51 participants. Millions of people were exposed to the Ben & Jerry's famous brand of products, with very little advertising expense.

    In 2007, Jordan’s Furniture, a New England retailer and part of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.B), offered free furniture purchased in March and April if the Red Sox won the World Series in Oct. They did, and Jordan’s gave away 30,000 furniture orders, backed stopped by a $20 mil insurance policy.

    Harley Davidson (NYSE:HOG) tattoos have been much admired for decades. Some believe Harley tattoos are the most popular tattoo in America. From a biker website, “Brand loyalty is essential, and the idea of tattooing the human body with the likeness of a particular motorcycle or any representation of that specific bike proves it.”

    As investors review company management prior to investing in their stock, they should look at their brand name and how the company markets their products. Strong brand name products bring market muscle, and smart marketers will find quirky avenues to create brand loyalty.

    Companies with exceptionally strong consumer brand loyalty include Harley Davidson, Home Depot (NYSE:HD), Johnson and Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), and of course Coca Cola (NYSE:KO) Each company has developed powerful brand loyalties, which is the envy of their industry.

    Over the long term, their growing sales and profits should continue to reward investors. A strong branded company’s stock price will be fueled by excellent management and expanding earnings, driven by a very strong consumer preference for their products.

    For those marketing executives out there looking for sporting events to sponsor, how about a few of my old favorites. I can see the possibilities now :

    Fifth Annual Emerson Electric's Elephant Polo Championships in Nepal;
    Kraft's Stilton Cheese-Log Rolling Masters in Green Bay, or:
    Birds Eye's Annual Pea Shooting Competition.

    Disclosure: Author long BRK.B and has been a shareholder since 2009
    Themes: Long, Consumer Stocks: UN, BRK.B, HOG, HD, JNJ, KO
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  • Julia Galvin
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
    Llanwrtyd-WellsI is my favourite place to bog snorkel. Also, I was Ladies Mountain Bike Bog Snokelling Champion 2004. I go wife carrying also. I have been to many countries with these sports. I have even been made a Dame by Prince Leonard for my services to International Sports in a Micro-nation called the Principality of Hutt River.
    You should try these sports someday!
    7 Oct 2010, 04:57 AM Reply Like
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