How to Hire the Wrong Sponsorship Sales Agency/Consultant/Employee

At Slingshot Sponsorship, we’ve done our fair share of hiring and working with sponsorship sales professionals – considering it’s all we do; you could almost say we are experts at spotting what to look out for.  As this is a considerable gripe amongst people looking to hire people and expecting people to work for free (aka commission-only), I thought I’d provide some guidance so you don’t continue to expect getting something for nothing or worse still, being let down and frustrated after investing time and money into making unicorns happen.

 

  1. The Black Book. If they start with “I’ve spoken to this brand already because we are BFFs and they’d be very interested in your event/charity/music festival/art exhibition/conference/awards programme/start-up, but obviously we couldn’t make that happen without being retained and hired by you first”, do not hire this person.  Firstly, anyone who can do a semi-decent job in sponsorship sales should know at least someone in every brand remotely interesting.  So this is basically a base requirement you should be looking for – not a reason to hire.  Secondly, a good person in this industry genuinely wants to create opportunities and will do so without needing to leverage a job from it – there would be other ways to frame this if it were a true statement such as, “I actually know a great brand and would be happy to make this happen regardless of whether we got the job, and I’d be happy to try and organise this for an introducer’s fee.”  Finally, it isn’t prudent for sponsorship sales people to be discussing properties they don’t represent to brands as it’ll make them look bad (imagine they didn’t win the business).  So this is usually not even true to begin with.  So don’t hire based on this statement.

 

  1. Agreeing with everything you say. Far too often we’ve lost out on pitches because I am quite open about discussing the fact that their property is overpriced and that we won’t sell it for that amount because no one would purchase it at that rights fee.  Unfortunately, either sales people don’t know or else they are just agreeing with you because that’s what you want to hear.  To be completely honest, without actually doing any strategic or valuation work (which almost never happens at pitch stage), the person you are trying to hire doesn’t honestly know and therefore shouldn’t be agreeing with you on how much it is worth.  And if they do so, they are just trying to give you what you want and you are likely going to hit a road block when it comes to properly taking your sponsorship proposal to market.

 

  1. Talking about big brands that have nothing to do with your property. A lot of people will have worked with sexy brands if they work in sponsorship, but if you are a choir in Leeds it is very unlikely that Red Bull is going to come along and give you a million pounds to sponsor you (no offense to singers in Leeds).  A lot of this is smoke and mirrors, just because they work and know big brands does not mean that these brands would be remotely interested in your property so any kind of discussion like this is completely irrelevant.

 

Saying this, it’s important to ask the right questions.  Here are the top three questions I would ask someone I was thinking of hiring if I was trying to hire someone to sell my sponsorship:

  1. Where do you think we’ve been going wrong and how do you propose you can fix it?
  2. What is your process, how many people are required (both from the client as well as from the agency) to achieve the target?
  3. What do you think the potential could be and how long will it take to get there?

 

With all this in mind, I cannot stress, people do not work for free.  As much as commission-only is very enticing to you, it is unrealistic and at the end of the day, you get what you pay for.  So invest both your time and your money, but invest wisely – you’ll be amazed at the results.

My Year as a Placement Student at Slingshot

The novelty of graduating university has decreased substantially this last decade. As the number of millennials attending university increases, the value of being a university graduate has dwarfed. If a post-graduate walked into an interview claiming they deserved the job role because he or she had a degree, employers would laugh and say ‘you and a million others’.

 

The only thing that’s increased from university are the expenses of attending the education system and the level of competition in finding a job post-graduation. 10 years ago, It was almost a guaranteed deal in finding a job after University – those graduates didn’t find themselves with their backs up against the wall like this contemporary generation does today.

 

As an undergraduate I’ve learnt that a degree simply doesn’t cut it anymore.

 

The real value lies within acquiring hands on, tangible experience through embarking on a placement year. Students need to be able to provide employers with sufficient evidence that both supports and reassures, you can get the job done.

 

One way or another, acquiring work experience is critical in the process of becoming employable; and I drew the most benefit is working in a smaller organisation.

 

I cannot stress enough how working in a smaller firm has affected my professional development for the better. My understanding on how the entire agency operates strengthened as I was an integral part of the team. In a big company, you become a cog in a piece of machinery and never truly achieve full awareness to your impact – having that lack of insight to your progression indefinitely detriments your experience as an intern.

 

The Key Thing I’ve learnt:

Passion over credential. I had zero experience prior to working with Slingshot and minimal knowledge on sponsorship, yet my passion to learn allowed me to develop quickly and become a valuable asset to the agency – drive can’t be bought, but knowledge can be taught.

 

The Top 3 Favourite Things about My Job:

  1. Numerous role opportunities. Operating within a small team provided me with the chance to perform every job role which offered me and understanding for what career I’d want to specialise in for the future.

 

  1. Creating relationships. Focusing on sales allowed me to build rapport with various clients and individuals both nationally and internationally that has not only helped me grow in confidence but has opened my world up to potential opportunity.

 

  1. Unrivalled insight. Working with a sponsorship agency that taps into all sectors meant that I’ve had the pleasure of working across various industries, which kept my experience interesting and refreshing. This allowed me to harness a much broader understanding of the realm of business.

 

What I Thought Before Work And Now:

I never expected to love work. It wasn’t until I began to see results that the obsession grew. From a sporting background myself, I was always competitive and those characteristics are easily transferable – the office is my new playground and my highs are found from achieving above and beyond from what is expected.

 

What I’ll miss the most:

Being pushed from my comfort zone. It wasn’t until Slingshot I realised my true potential. Being in an environment where I’m constantly motivated and expected to deliver helped me understand how vital it is to stay clear of what’s familiar or easy because you’ll never grow as an individual.

 

Although a degree certifies your knowledge in the field, applying your knowledge whilst earning a wealth of experience and building a vast network of contacts is critical to the early stages of your career. It’s ultimately what you do now that affects your future and Slingshot was my stepping stone.

Be The ‘Right’ Holder

In today’s age, we are witnessing industries becoming ever more cluttered with brands and consumers are spoilt for choice. With the level of competition skyrocketing; brands need to find new and innovative ways of differentiating.

 

As the market becomes increasingly saturated, trying to identify something distinct about a brand is blurred; yet deriving something unique for a brand is crucial and is the underlying principle designed to drive their success. Distinguishing that certain something about an organisation represents the biggest sales tool in their arsenal – the USP.

 

Brands are now utilising the latest innovations in sponsorship, as opposed to standard forms of marketing, to create emotional connections with their target audience, creating sustainable and long-lasting relationships.

 

Rights holders need to be aware of this and use their platforms as a gateway to helping brands accomplish their goals, providing opportunities for brands to leverage themselves from their competitors. To do this rights holders must invest time into identifying the key ways they can help a brand differentiate and reach their business objectives, which means prospecting should be more targeted than ever.

 

It is therefore paramount that rights holders promote themselves as the property that will help differentiate the brand from their competitors and become the solution, not an option, in providing brands with the perfect opportunity to stand out from the crowd, leading to their further success.

The Art of Sales

Mastering the art of complete awareness to the world around you is the recipe to a successful life in sales. Paying attention to every detail, shift and trend in the marketplace is what businesses strive off in order to remain one step ahead of the game and their competitors. In order to take full advantage of the market is through understanding how to appropriately assess and predict its dynamic change and flow.

 

We live in an ever-evolving world – this means that in order to be a successful salesperson, you have to immerse yourself into that industry and allow it to become your world. A good start would be following every social media account relevant to the industry you’re focusing on, installing google alerts to notify you with any updates related to the topics you’ve assigned as well as subscribing to every newsletter and magazine that might suggest the latest trends. This is so that you’re always channelling your efforts effectively and remaining most efficient with your time.

 

As a sponsorship agency, it is paramount for us to stay on top of the latest news regarding market analysis, value of assets and current sponsorship deals. We do this by sourcing every bit of material related to our clients’ accounts and industries through every accessible but credible source. This provides us with enough material so that we never find ourselves on the back foot in a pitch – we know exactly what brands need and how to achieve it, in addition to sustaining long-term relationships even when our clients’ events come to annual finish.

 

Simply put, if you fail to prepare – prepare to fail. Knowledge acts as the bread and butter to a salesperson’s arsenal. Never bring a knife to a gunfight, do your research and have constant awareness of the industry you’re selling into, this is what distinguishes salespeople that can close, from those who cannot.

Teamwork Won’t Make The Dream Work

The next innovation in football sponsorship has arrived – more advertising space. Shirt sleeve sponsors will likely be on show from the start of the 2017/18 season and some reports have suggested that this space is valued at 20% of that of a main kit sponsor. Think of that what you will, but what is actually interesting about this revelation is the news that an agency has brokered an aggregated deal with up to ten Premier League clubs to sell this space to a single sponsor.

In a sport that generally divides, it appears a selection of Premier League clubs have decided to unite for a potential quick-fire commercial gain. This wouldn’t be the first time that one brand has been associated with multiple Premier League clubs, with brands such as Mansion.com, Dafabet, Europcar and bet365 currently spreading their allegiance, but a deal with ten clubs teaming up to take a share of the spoils would be a first.

In the EFL Championship earlier this year, 888sport launched an interesting partnership as the first main sponsor to simultaneously sponsor four teams (Birmingham City, Brentford, Nottingham Forest and Preston North End), which saw the company roll out a series of activities as part of the 888sport ‘Fans First Campaign’.

To add to this, Sure recently signed a multi-club sponsorship deal and became official partners with Premier League clubs Chelsea, Everton and Southampton, brokering an official ambassador from each team separately.

The difference with these two examples is that on each occasion the brand would have strategically selected their partners based on a multitude of commercial reasons, whereas the potential Premier League shirt sleeve deal with such a variety of clubs will arguably be far less strategic and unsustainable.

The type of brand to take up such an offer likely won’t be interested in the success of the teams’ performance or driving engagement with fans, but will simply look to capitalise on the Premier League media machine to significantly improve its brand awareness.

Whether a deal can be struck or not, only time will tell, but the real winners here will be the Premier League clubs who decide to commit their shirt sleeve sponsorship efforts into pursuing a long term strategic partnership with a brand.

Think Sponsorship from the Start

It is the stamp of a successful event to be able to successfully attract sponsorship from brands and thus enable an event to grow. However, the question often asked by organisers is when to approach potential sponsorship. Many will fall into the trap of leaving it too late for brand involvement and miss an opportunity to subsidise and support their event. Here are a few tips that will help you when you’re creating an event to help maximise your chance of securing sponsors:

 

  1. Engage Sponsors through the whole process

A successful sponsorship involves ways in which a brand can be interwoven throughout all aspects of the event. Initial communications and marketing to ticket sales and the event itself are all valuable assets that sponsors can utilise and you can monetise. Through connecting with sponsors in the planning stage you can create your event with bespoke brand opportunities for each sponsor and activate them properly given you have the time.

Bringing on a new sponsor late in the game can often seem rushed and doesn’t leave a sponsor feeling like they got the most out of their investment. The sooner you sign a sponsor the more they can integrate and ultimately, they will pay more for it.

 

  1. Don’t approach just any brand

When you are approaching sponsors for your event, stop and think why this particular brand? Can they add value to my event, can they provide product, and even more importantly, what can I offer to them that they can’t get anywhere else? You need to be able to justify why your event will benefit their brand because sponsorship is not charity, it’s a partnership.

The key is to approach brands that will resonate with your event’s audience because ultimately, corporate sponsorship is a form of advertising for a brand. You need to be able to show the benefits to the brand not only at the point of sale but also throughout and post your event so they will renew and upgrade on investment, continuing their support in years to come.

 

  1. Don’t just pull a price out of thin air

The most common mistake you can make when approaching sponsors is not valuing your assets properly. Knowing the value of what you are offering a sponsor is crucial because no brand will pay for something they don’t believe they will get a return on. You also must recognise that the brands you approach see sponsorship proposals every day and can tell if your offering is worth the investment you are asking for.

Think logically- if you need £100,000 for your event but you only have £25,000 worth of sponsor assets, you don’t charge one sponsor £100,000, you find four sponsors instead to cover your costs. You need to be practical. Would you pay four times the price of anything? No! Nor should you expect that of your sponsor.

5 Things I Learned On Necker Island

We recently completed our first year of sponsorship for the Extreme Tech Challenge – the world’s largest startup competition highlighting companies that are literally changing the world, which culminated in a very exciting XTC Finals on Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island on February 2nd.  Here are some of the things I learned while surrounded with the world’s most impressive and forward-thinking tech start-ups:

 

1.    Sponsors like the sun.  We have worked with many events all across the world, but turns out when the sun shines, sponsors shine too.  Will make more of a note to take on more clients that have tropical destinations for the future.

 

2.    Small numbers mean big opportunities.  Due to the size of Necker Island, the XTC Finals is limited to 100 attendees.  Usually with sponsorship, the bigger the audience, the more valuable the rights fee.  However, in this case, you have the actual opportunity to really meet and have meaningful conversations with everyone.  Rather than being pushed to a table at an Awards ceremony, real friendships were made and business was being done because it was easy to do so.

 

3.    Remoteness creates more sponsor engagement.  Because the British Virgin Islands are so remote (it took me 20 hours to get there with two flights, one ferry, and a ride in the back of a pickup truck) most people wanted things to do, and one way or another, you ended up running into people that were at the event throughout the week.  It became a mini community where tech and entrepreneurship met at the beach over Painkillers (the local drink) and ran into each other in truck taxis and ferries all over the island.

 

4.    The kids are alright.  Of the three finalists, two were under 25.  When you look at the actual impact of their companies on the world (Cresilon is a revolutionary material that stops bleeds in seconds and ReDeTec has made 3D printing accessible and sustainable), it blows your mind.  This really is the future, and it’s pretty damn exciting.

 

5.    Sponsorship has the power to create life changing experiences.  The most unforgettable moment was witnessing the power of sponsorship on individuals.  As part of sponsor iTutor Group’s activation, they took 10 of the top female CEOs in Asia to the XTC Finals on a super yacht.  Super yacht aside, the women were so incredible in their own right and at every point throughout the day they talked business – to each other, to the sponsor, and even to me.  More incredible still was that many of the women hadn’t even been in the water before – so it became a week of overcoming fears, a week of firsts, and most importantly, a week of growth.  The fact that this was delivered as part of a sponsor activation is what makes it so meaningful and impactful.  Rather than just bask in the glory of being a sponsor, iTutor Group made a real impact in their own community and in the lives of people they are wanting to champion in their country.

 

I’d definitely encourage you to have a look at some of the entries from our competition this year.  And if you want more Necker Island photos, you can view them on my Instagram.

3rd Annual XTC 2017 Concludes on Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island – Congrats to Winner VANTAGE ROBOTICS!

After narrowing down the competition at CES 2017, the final three competitors headed down to the Caribbean for the finals.

XTC Finals – Necker Island, British Virgin Islands – The race to Necker Island culminates with an unprecedented, photo-finish judging: Separated by less than half a percent in point total, Vantage Robotics is named of winner of Extreme Tech Challenge 2017!

XTC 2017 Champion Vantage Robotics (San Francisco, CA) has created the best flying camera in the world, making it easy and safe, for anyone to capture stunning aerial video and stills. Their team includes DARPA Grand Challenge winners, IDEO alumni, and experienced entrepreneurs spearheaded by founders Joe van Niekerk and Tobin Fisher. Three years ago, Tobin Fisher, CEO and co-founder of Vantage Robotics, cut his hand on a plastic-bladed quadrotor; inspired by his injury, he set out to design flying cameras with the same ease of use as products he helped create at IDEO. Vantage’s first product, Snap, is a fully portable, safe, and incredibly easy-to-use 4K flying camera.

Tobin Fisher remarks: “We’re honoured beyond words to be selected amongst such a prestigious group of companies. After working on hundreds of product iterations over four years to realise the goal of true freedom of perspective for aerial video, we feel incredibly grateful to get this level of recognition for our solution from such an amazing group of judges. Thank you to Bill Tai, Sir Richard Branson, the judges, XTC, and everyone else who believed in us along the way.”

As the last rays of sunlight fell across the glistening beaches of Necker Island, the evening gave way to the final round of the swift competition. Each finalist took to the stage to present their ventures to the final round of judges and – for the first time ever – to a global audience via MaiTai Global’s livestream. Following an intensive Q&A with the three finalists, the judges deliberated privately to determine the winner, which proved to be a tight race down to the last minute.

Winner Vantage Robotics was selected by a prestigious panel spearheaded by special guest judge Sir Richard Branson, who hosted the final round of the challenge on his own Necker Island. Branson was joined by Venture Capitalist Jim Breyer, Founder and CEO of C3 IoT Tom Siebel, CTO for the Hillary for America campaign Steph Hannon, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Aspect Ventures Theresia Gouw, and Chief Operating Officer, iTutor Group Jerry Huang.

An all-encompassing experience, the judges expressed excitement over the integral role they played in shaping the challenge and the calibre of competitors XTC draws. “The process was fascinating; the contrasting teamwork, listening skills, intense passion – all of this was demonstrated in all three of the finalists and that part of it was really exciting. I congratulate the XTC team for pulling all this together; great deal of fun, intellectually energising and very enjoyable.”Jim Breyer, Founder & CEO, Breyer Capital

“The ambition and innovation of all the contestants was mind-blowing, including the semi-finalists, each of which could have taken the top prize. The judges deliberation was intense as Vantage Robotics and Cresilon were a dead heat by our scoring system.”Steph Hannon, CTO for the Hillary for America campaign

A fierce competition spanning several months and crossing three critical judging platforms, XTC invited over a thousand world-class entrepreneurs to showcase their cutting-edge innovations. The contest is designed to provide winners with valuable infrastructure to scale at low incremental cost, and exposure to a network of world class advisers to help them turn their venture into a successful business. With the first two rounds of the competition taking place at MaiTai Global’s annual Ocean Gala in December and the world’s largest consumer electronic showcase in January at CES® 2017 Las Vegas, XTC traverses the globe in search of the next great startup.

As part of the Finals, Special guest judge Sir Richard Branson took to the stage to deliver his take on winning company Vantage Robotics: “There’s fantastic intensity around the Vantage Robotics team, the judges thought it was wonderful the way they have driven towards simplicity. I personally think the market is very large and I just love the product…and the fact that it’s not going to cut your head off.”

Congratulations to the Extreme Tech Challenge 2017 Participants!

Redefining the way military, first responders, and doctors handle medical emergencies, Second Place Runner Up Cresilon (New York, NY) is a plant-based hemostatic gel that accelerates the natural blood-clotting process. Founders Joe Landolina and Isaac Miller are connected by one shared mission: to improve wound care and advance the standard of medical treatment.

Third place finisher ReDeTec (Toronto, CAN) is the producer of a desktop filament extruder and recycling unit for 3D printers. The innovative company creates novel plastic processing technology with significantly reduced energy and space requirements, freeing plastic recycling from the factory floor and making it a much more accessible technology for everyone. ReDeTec is the brainchild of Dennon Oosterman and Alex Kay, who deliver a free, safe way to recycle virtually anything plastic.

Joining the XTC Finalists onstage was winner of principle sponsor iTutorGroup’s China Vertical, Co-Founder of Best Sign, Joy Wan. Best Sign allows users to view, sign and send important documents from anywhere in the world and has the industry’s first ISO27001 international safety certification, providing comprehensive, financial-level security.

XTC is presented by MaiTai Global, a vanguard collective of the world’s leading entrepreneurs, creators, and athletes. Participants combine their energy, network and resources to help each other achieve professional success, pushing the limits of work and play while also fuelling philanthropic activities around the world.

MaiTai Global would like to express their deepest gratitude to the 2017 Sponsors: Founding partner iTutorGroup, Semi-Finals partner CES® 2017 and vertical sponsors Deloitte, Dianrong, IBM, Living In Digital Times, Treasure Data, VR Fest and Zoom for their generous support and insight to further enhance the XTC experience for both participants and spectators.

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Slingshot Sponsorship Wins European Sponsorship Association Rights Holder Award 2016

Slingshot Sponsorship has won the Rights Holder Award for the second consecutive year, at the 2016 European Sponsorship Awards for their work with Snowboxx Music Festival. The category celebrates the rights holder that has gone out of their way to support sponsoring brands, offering innovative solutions and opportunities.

 

With Snowboxx confirming the relocation of the festival to a substantially larger site in 2016, Slingshot were appointed to complete a strategic analysis of the property in order to utilise sponsorship (both funds and contra) to ensure an effective and profitable transition.

 

Since the launch of the event in 2012, the event had only ever secured 1 sponsorship from a brand. Within 3 months, Slingshot and the Snowboxx managed to secure crucial additional revenue and support from 3 global brand partnerships with Coors Light, Rockstar Energy Drink & Jungfrau, which ultimately contributed towards a sold out festival and through integrating bespoke brand activity the festival experience was enormously enhanced.

 

Slingshot approached Coors Light with an integrated proposition to support the brand message of #DammeCold and the positioning as the ultimate in ice cold refreshment. Coors Light signed as the ‘Official Beer Partner’ of Snowboxx Festival 2016. Utilising the natural synergies through the shared passions of music and the cold nature of the event Coors Light developed a sponsorship campaign focused on digitally amplifying onsite content & activity to the wider UK audience.

 

Slingshot also brokered the partnership between Snowboxx and Rockstar Energy Drink the ‘Official Energy Drink’ for Snowboxx Festival 2016. Rockstar Energy Drink has always had a close connection with music and winter action sports and as such the partnership was a natural fit. Rockstar Energy Drink were granted use of use of a range of Snowboxx imagery and assets as well as the support of VIP competitions to offer attendees the opportunity to experience Snowboxx 2016 as a true Rockstar.

 

Jackie Fast, MD of Slingshot Sponsorship was absolutely thrilled to win the award, commenting:

“Absolutely delighted to win this prestigious ESA award for the second year in a row, thank you to ESA for supporting the work that Slingshot does with rights holders. We are so happy to have helped Snowboxx enhance their event and look forward to seeing this event continue to flourish in years to come.”

 

The winners of the European Sponsorship Association Awards were announced at the awards ceremony in London on Thursday, 9th February 2017.

 

www.slingshotsponsorship.com

Slingshot Sponsorship is an innovative strategic sponsorship agency based in Central London with offices around the world.  Slingshot works across all industry sectors to help organisations identify, create and optimise assets so they become engaging marketing opportunities for brands to partner with.  Clients include diverse verticals such as publishing, events, music artist rights, award programmes, music festivals, and charities – all with a desire of pushing the boundaries in traditional sponsorship.

For comments and information, please contact Kieran Morris:

Telephone: +44 (0)207 226 7839

Email: kieran@slingshotsponsorship.com

Standing Out from the Crowd

The digital music streaming industry has become extremely crowded in recent years with several leading companies vying for market share and growth. In order to differentiate themselves, the major competitors are choosing ever varying strategies, with sponsorship emerging as one of the most innovative.

As of September 2016 over 100 Million users worldwide paid for a music streaming service, a figure that is constantly growing. The most streamed songs on Spotify, the world leader in terms of paid music streaming services, have over 900 million listens. Spotify, along with Apple Music, Tidal and Pandora (US only) have emerged as market leaders with others such as Deezer and Soundcloud also competing for the same substantial audience.

The key way these companies have tried to differentiate so far is through unique content. Tidal offer exclusive, high quality music videos. Artist exclusivity is also a tactic used by Tidal, as well as Apple Music, while Spotify has concentrated on having the largest offering.

Deezer has recently adopted a new tactic of differentiating through sponsorship. Deezer, a French based company with 6 million users worldwide, has partnered with Manchester United Football Club and Barcelona Football Club as “Official Music Partner.”

Traditionally Deezer has relied on B2B deals to increase its user base through partnerships with mobile networks. This new approach showcases Deezer adopting sponsorship as a key part of their marketing and expansion strategy. Deezer will appeal directly to consumers, encouraging them to download the app out of choice, rather than receive it through a tie in.

This innovative partnership with football teams works particularly well given the strong link between sports fans and music fans.  Whether unveiling a new player with the help of a musician, as Manchester United, Adidas and Stormzy recently did, or the frequent appearance of new bands on popular TV show Soccer AM.

Deezer are guaranteed to meaningfully engage this audience as players will create new playlists which fans can download. Deezer will also be responsible for the music on match day where further activation and consumer engagement will be possible. Deezer will not only benefit from the direct access to fans, but association as the music streaming service for sports fans.

Deezer are attempting to open a whole new channel to reach consumers, purely through sponsorship. Of course, Deezer’s competitors may choose to replicate this strategy, but Deezer’s imagination and creativity in using sponsorship as a differentiation tool gives them first mover advantage and a perception of originality that is crucial in such a competitive market. This is a demonstration of the power of sponsorship when seeking to stand out from the crowd.

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