The amount of co-op dollars available to radio may be bigger than you think. According to an August study by Borrell Associates, $14 billion dollars in co-op marketing money goes unused every year out of a total it projects at $36 billion.
Another source close to the co-op business says it may actually be even larger, based on the sheer volume of partner programs available for local promotion and their reliance on dealer adoption. Tim Brennan, VP, Strategic Development for co-op specialist Recas, says his database includes almost 2,100 “formal” co-op programs and another 1,700 brands with negotiable dealer marketing programs.
Major companies that offer co-op programs include Michelin, Shell and Exxon, along with Snapper lawn mowers, Hunter Douglas blinds, Allstate insurance, Quaker State motor oil, Pandora jewelry, Wrangler jeans and Trane HVAC systems. But many other medium and small brand names do as well, right down to the paint sold at the local hardware store, according to Brennan. While many offer a 50%-70% reimbursement rate, “There are at least 500 manufacturers that offer 100% reimbursement for advertising,” Brennan says, adding that there are co-op dollars embedded in OEM programs for automotive dealers that would surprise the media ad salesperson, but not the dealer. “You’ll never surprise the car dealer with news that they have co-op available.” Those dollars include accruals for the sale of new and certified pre-owned vehicles, along with separate programs for promotions in the service department.
“In the tire category, Michelin & BF Goodrich have a program right now that pays 125% co-op reimbursement to qualifying tire dealers to encourage them to advertise Michelin and BFGoodrich tires. Now is when many people buy new tires for winter, and these companies run dealer sales promotions to make sure you consider their tires,” notes Brennan. The program also earns co-op funding on wholesale purchases through the end of the year for brand advertising until March 2016. Also, GE Appliance has a co-op program available to advertise appliances with a brand promotion around Black Friday offering 100% reimbursement. “These are just two of 1,343 programs in our database that include formal co-op reimbursement for radio ads,” says Brennan.