Player Power – Athlete Success Impacts on Brand Fortunes

Player power is well documented across sports business with demands on endorsement deals, publicity requests and the ability to influence the many across the globe. However rarely has a player’s performance vindicated the price of company stock.

As Serena Williams appears in New York this week with sights set firmly on the US Open & ‘Serena Slam’ (winning all four majors in the calendar year) there will likely be comparisons drawn with Jordan Spieth’s attempts to achieve the same feat in the world of golf this year.

Following an examination of Spieth’s miss on the final hole at the British Open, ultimately ending hopes of the calendar Grand Slam the finance department of Serena’s sponsor Nike might be a little more focused on her success this week than the previous wins.

Recently Under Armour became the principal sponsor of the young athlete, signing a multi-million 10 year deal (read more on a previous Slingshot blog here). Following this Spieth promptly returned faith securing the Masters and US Open titles with Under Armour equipment pride of place.

Next the British Open loomed with hype surrounding Spieth’s opportunity to complete the impossible and collect a third major of the year. Jordan Spieth was in contention until the final hole where a birdie was required to keep the challenge alive for a play-off.

This is where the parallels with Serena might interest Nike’s finance department and shareholders.

As following the missed putt by their star ambassador, Under Armour’s share price dropped falling from a price of $89.46 before the putt to $88.79 minutes afterwards – decreasing the company’s value by almost £90 million.

Whilst the exact nature of this depreciation is unknown, this occurred within the 6 minutes between the putt and missing of the play-off. Sport marketing professionals have cast views on the occurrence with Nigel Currie believing the “share price to have grown due to the accumulation of previous successes and the expectation on further success”, with the drop merely showing a return to a normal level.

Whatever the explanation, Nike shareholders will be wishing Serena success at Flushing Meadows just a few percent more.


A Day in the Life – Festival Sponsorship Management

As another part of our Day in the Life series we invite you to Pula, Croatia and the current site of Slingshot Sponsorship clients Outlook & Dimensions music festivals.

The music festival is now in its 5th day with international artists and brands in full swing. The Slingshot Sponsorship team have been hard at work over the last week to ensure all the sponsors plans and activations are fulfilled and surpass expectations. Welcome to a day in the life of onsite sponsorship management:


  • Awaking to the near sound of silence (with most festival goers all recouping from the previous night’s antics) the team meet for breakfast at the festival’s staff area to discuss the sponsorship programme delivery so far, the plans for the coming 24 hours and to share any stories from last night (always entertaining!).
  • Following breakfast the team retreat to the confines of their laptops to ensure all images, social media and admin are planned and in order for the day ahead.
  • The rest of the morning is allocated to ensure delivery on any outstanding work from other client accounts, liaising with the team in London to stay up to date on any actions from head office.


  • The early afternoon has been a flurry of activity each day with a host of tasks and favours called in, whether ushering VIP’s to locating an elusive set of keys the team are on hand to ensure all activation is running smoothly.
  • One of the key features of Dimensions Festival is the Knowledge Area, an area where festival goers can create music, collaborate with each other and listen to acts and idols from across the festival talk about their experiences and deliver expert workshops. Sponsored by the likes of Native Instruments, Abelton and Urban Ears the team are busy setting up the necessary sponsor equipment, marketing information and ensuring all attendees are aware of the schedule for the day including the featured artist’s key note – a huge draw in the late afternoon.
  • New Era’s key activation at Dimensions Festival is the artist lounge. A place for artists to relax, meet the crew and other artists as well as access the range of New Era merchandise available. The team are underway ensuring the lounge is still in pristine condition, stocked with all styles and set for tonight’s activation.


  • Following dinner the team are briefed in and informed of any specific requirements.
  • One section of the team are on hand at the Knowledge Arena to ensure the smooth change over from the workshop to the delivery of the artist key note speeches with a huge crowd set to listen to the legend George Clinton.
  • The remaining team are on hand at The Clearing to welcome all artists to the lounge, mingle and capture content. Tonight there were specific requests from a number of artist from across the festival stages who asked for New Era caps for their onstage performance, which the team duly delivered and captured the content from.
  • As the music continues until 6am, enough of the team are on hand for the rest of the night, a couple of members take the opportunity to visit a select stage or two of their favourite artists and join in the Dimensions vibe.
  • With happy sponsors, well delivered activations and content captured from across the festival it’s time to retire to bed and catch a few hours’ sleep before it all begins again!

2015 ESA Excellence Awards Now Inviting Entries From Across the European Sponsorship Industry

Submissions for the 9th annual Excellence Awards close on 30th September, with a glittering presentation ceremony taking place at London’s Café de Paris on February 11th 2016

The European Sponsorship Association (ESA), the membership body that works to inspire better marketing across rights holders, brands and agencies, is today inviting interested parties to submit their best work in order to be considered for a prestigious ESA Excellence Award.

Now in its ninth year, the ESA Excellence Awards are the only awards to recognise and celebrate the best sponsorships across Europe and reward the outstanding work achieved by sponsorship industry professionals.

Earlier this year, ESA announced that it was overhauling its Awards categories to better reflect the way sponsorships are being conceived and then activated across Europe. The 2015 ESA Excellence Awards will now feature 18 new-look categories across various industry sectors, including music, sport and arts and culture.

The full list of 2015 ESA Excellence Award categories are:

  1. ESA Best of Europe Award
  2. B2B Activation Award
  3. Best Use of Hospitality Activation
  4. CSR/Community Sponsorship Award
  5. Mass Participation Sponsorship or Event Award
  6. Sponsorship of the Year Award
  7. Media Sponsorship Award
  8. Employee Engagement Award
  9. Live Music Sponsorship or Activation Award
  10. Arts & Culture Sponsorship Award
  11. Best Use of Social Media
  12. Sports Sponsorship Award
  13. Best Use of Digital
  14. Best Use of PR
  15. Rights Holder Achievement Award
  16. Multi-National Award
  17. Best Use of Insight
  18. Best Use of Integrated Marketing

After inviting candidates to submit applications to become a judge for the 2015 Excellence Awards, ESA is delighted to be gathering together a group of industry experts who will review and select the best campaigns according to a strict set of judging criteria.

The deadline to submit an entry for the Awards is 30th September 2015 and the shortlist for each category will be publicly announced in October 2015. The ESA Excellence Award winners will then be revealed at a glittering awards ceremony in central London’s Café de Paris on February 11th 2016.

To enter the 2015 ESA Excellence Awards agencies, rights holders and brands should visit for the online application forms, and to obtain further details of the Awards process. Organisations and individuals are also encouraged to enter the Awards as soon as possible in order to qualify for the ‘Early Bird’ entry discount, which expires on 11th September 2015.

Karen Earl, Chairman of the European Sponsorship Association, said:

“For almost a decade now the ESA Excellence Awards has come to represent the industry ‘gold standard’ and it is a great opportunity to celebrate the best-in-class sponsorship projects from across the continent.”

She continued: “The sponsorship industry goes from strength to strength and the new-look ESA Excellence Awards highlights how we have evolved the initiative to better reflect this progress and change, and so ensure that we remain relevant to the professionals who are producing outstanding work across a vibrant European sponsorship landscape.”       

Slingshot MD and ESA Board Member Jackie Fast, who has chaired a team of professionals working within the sponsorship industry to revamp the Awards, commented:

“We now encourage the whole industry to enter their best campaigns for these Awards. There are opportunities for everyone from across Europe to be involved, no matter what the size of the sponsorship budget. The judges will look for creativity, campaigns that have achieved the business objectives, and where there are clearly measured and evaluated results that prove success.

“Winning an ESA Excellence Award provides a valuable marketing platform to showcase your great work and promote your achievements to industry peers, and helps foster new, valuable sponsorship connections. The very best of luck to everyone who enters!”

Further general information about the 2015 ESA Excellence Awards can be found here:

Full details of the new Award categories can be viewed here:

For information on how to enter the Awards:

To purchase a table for the Awards ceremony, please visit: (UK Sterling payments) or (Euro payments)

For further information about the Awards, contact the ESA office, Tel +44 (0) 20 8390 3311 or email


Sponsorship Sales Basic Series – Part Two: The Three As to Building a Package


We have been running a monthly Sponsorship Sessions event at our Head Office since December and some of the challenges and hurdles that are being faced by quite diverse companies we have been helping seem to be the same.  Therefore, I have decided to create a Sponsorship Sales Series for the beginner.  If you are an expert, this blog is not for you – you might be more interested in reading this.


Benefits are key to any partnership as they provide the rights and capability for any brand to activate.  Essentially they are the rights of usage.  It seems simple enough; however, surprisingly many people don’t truly understand what a sponsorship benefit actually is and how it differs from the use of that asset.

Audience:  Your audience is what a sponsor is interested in reaching.  Your audience is not a sponsorship benefit and shouldn’t be included in a contract. The sponsorship benefit is what enables a sponsor to reach your audience.

Asset:  An asset is the benefit you are providing a sponsor and is included in a contract.  This forms part of a rights holder’s deliverables during the term of the agreement.

Activation:  Activation is the activity a sponsors chooses to utilise with the asset(s) they have purchased.  Typically the more creative, engaged and insightful – the more the activation will resonate with the audience, which is key to driving ROI for all parties.  Activation developed alongside the rights holder typically engages audiences better due to the fact that the rights holder understands their audience better than the sponsor.

For example, in a sponsorship agreement with the benefit of social media for the sponsor the breakdown is as follows:

  • Audience = the rights holder’s Twitter network
  • Asset = 5 Tweets
  • Activation = running a Twitter competition giving away 5 prizes to the first person who responds to a Tweet

Far too often, rights holder bulk up their sponsorship package by creating a lot of benefits that is really one asset communicated in different ways.  Although this may make the rights holder feel like they are offering a great deal more, it doesn’t add any value to the prospective sponsor.  Additionally, because rights holders feel like they are giving so much away, then tend to overvalue what is on the table because they themselves are confused about the benefits and the activation of those benefits.

By truly understanding what your assets are, you will start being able to clearly identify what packages and the value of those packages will be – rather than over inflating your proposition.

When Doping Delivers – US Postal Service & Lance Armstrong

Following the fallout from the recent athletics doping scandal brought to the fore by The Times & German broadcaster ARD last week, this is an opportune time to look at one of the biggest and divisive scandals in sport. The continuing battle between Lance Armstrong and one of his prime sponsors, the US Postal Service.

The US Postal Service was a long term sponsor of Lance Armstrong’s cycling team, partnering from 1998 to the 2004 season. The US Postal Service paid $40 million in rights fees across the 6 year term with around $18 million received by Armstrong himself.

In the wake of Lance Armstrong’s sensational doping confession in 2013 the US Government are seeking damages of over $100 million under the False Claims Act as it was sold on the notion Armstrong competed as a ‘clean’ rider. In the blog Enter at Your Own Peril, Slingshot Sponsorship previously explored the facets that affect a sponsor when the rights holder is involved in controversy, however the current case has highlighted another valuable point of discussion.

The interesting development within the Armstrong vs. U.S.P.S. case is the comment from Armstrong’s legal team that the US Postal Service “got exactly what it bargained for, including tens of millions of dollars’ worth of publicity, exposure to more than 30 million spectators at international cycling events, and hundreds of hours of television coverage”.

Herein lies an interesting argument. The US Postal Service did indeed ‘get what it paid for’ with studies stating it received at least $139 million in worldwide brand exposure in four years. Bolstering this, in a document for a 2003 Postal Service news conference the Postal Service described the sponsorship as “may be one of the most effective public relations ventures the Postal Service, and for that matter, any other global service agency, has ever undertaken”.

The argument posed by the defending council is during the sponsorship of the team the US Postal Service reached its objective of overhauling the stereotypes of the postal workers, increasing brand exposure and driving sales and that the current revelations had no hand in the effectiveness of that partnership.

If the US Postal Service reached its outlined goals it would seem contrived to seek fiscal compensation over a decade after the sponsorship ended. With the battle still rumbling on in the courts only time will tell what the Federal Judge will decide.

World Taekwondo Grand Prix Secures Laing O’Rourke As Schools Partner

Laing O’Rourke has been announced as the ‘Schools Partner’ for the upcoming World Taekwondo Grand Prix with the agreement brokered by Slingshot Sponsorship. The event will see the Olympic, World and European gold medal winning GB Taekwondo in action within their home city of Manchester. Following involvement in the 2014 World Taekwondo Grand Prix, Laing O’Rourke have committed to a wider involvement for the 2015 event.

The partnership will see Laing O’Rourke integrate throughout the events school’s outreach programme in Manchester, culminating with activity at the World Taekwondo Grand Prix, 16-18th October held at the Manchester Regional Arena.

Tom Higgins, Business Leader for Laing O’Rourke Construction in the North of England, commented “Laing O’Rourke’s role as the Schools Partner of the World Taekwondo Grand Prix will enhance the work we already do with schools and communities across Manchester. We know sport plays an important role in helping to inspire young people, driving motivation, team work and aspiration – all qualities that are also important to our industry. We’re looking forward to continuing our relationship with GB Taekwondo and bringing some unique and interesting opportunities to young people in the city.”

As the Schools Partner, Laing O’Rourke staff & GB Taekwondo athletes will be visiting schools in the East Manchester area in the lead up to the World Taekwondo Grand Prix, to drive awareness of the skills and qualities needed to succeed as both students and members of the community. Over 1,000 local school children will also attend the event and cheer on Great Britain’s Olympic hopefuls as they look to secure qualification for Rio 2016.

Steve Flynn, Operations Director, GB Taekwondo remarked “We are delighted to welcome Laing O’Rourke once again as the Schools Partner for the World Taekwondo Grand Prix. They have been supportive of our schools initiative previously and have been instrumental in providing young people from across the city with the opportunity to enjoy world class sport on their doorstep.”

How Sponsorship Impacts Sport Participation in the UK

After the 2008 Beijing Games and the backdrop of London 2012 there was a dramatic policy change by the new Conservative government. The Department for Culture, Media & Sport changed their focus from sport as a social intervention to that of a performance and excellence goal. Entitled ‘Game Plan’, a strategy for delivering the governments sport and physical activity objectives saw a policy named ‘Playing to Win’ introduced. This created a new era in British sport and looked to redefine it. Instead of creating success through mass participation of sport in the country, ‘Playing to Win’ looked to increase participation through success for top level elite athletes. Funding was redirected from lower level and grassroots sport to fewer but higher level athletes. The next superstars of British sport. This decrease in funding saw the reduction of sports being available to the average child.

Sport in a young person’s life is vital, it can enable a healthy lifestyle and plays a vital role in gaining social skills. Sports that have had a funding cut need to find resources from elsewhere in order to continue providing opportunities for young people. Sponsorship is not only crucial, but innovatively at the forefront of enabling grassroots sport to be made possible.

The Laureus Project, a foundation that looks to use sport to engage youth is a great example. In some of central London’s most violent areas they run The Midnight Basketball League. Held from 10pm – 6am, the aim is to use sport to reduce social issues such as conflict and crime. In order for the program to continue, Laureus use large corporate sponsors to fund coaches, venue hire and equipment. Mercedes-Benz and IWC Schaffhausen are the global partners and have both provided funding in excess of €60 million since the foundation began.

Another example can be seen with Street League, a football program that uses sport to engage youth in education, training and work. Youths from 16 – 24 attend the program which requires each individual to complete two hours in the classroom and two hours on the football field. The program has several partners such as Barclays, Capital One and Hyundai, helping support the interaction with over 1,000 young people each year.

Corporate sponsorship is demonstrating the substantial value and potential to the economy this platform can deliver, over and above traditional motivational aims. Nowhere is this more prominent than with grassroots sport. Due to the government’s policy change and grassroots funding cut, sponsorship is displaying a stark example of how it is bridging the gap where the government has left. If sponsorship wasn’t providing these resources and subsequent opportunities, young people would not take part in sport.

Wales Rally GB Powers Ahead With Shell

Wales Rally GB is delighted to announce that Shell will be the Official Fuels and Lubricants Partner to the British round of the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship (12-15 November), brokered by Slingshot Sponsorship.

Shell has a long and successful history competing at the highest level of global motor sport. In the FIA World Rally Championship Shell has a well-established Technical Partnership with Hyundai Motorsport, supplying the team with Shell Helix Ultra lubricants. The collaboration with Wales Rally GB represents another valuable platform for Shell to showcase its technology leadership, using motor sport as the ultimate product development test bed.

Last year, Shell supported Wales Rally GB’s ‘Rally Legend’ programme, which honoured legendary ace Ari Vatanen who – together with co-driver Terry Harryman – had famously won Rally GB exactly 30 years earlier in 1984.

“We are delighted to welcome Shell as an official partner to Wales Rally GB,” said Ben Taylor, Managing Director of Wales Rally GB. “Last year, we were able to leverage Shell’s amazing heritage in the sport but this year it is all about the modern day and the company’s exciting Technical Partnership with Hyundai.

“This event is growing quickly in profile and the endorsement of a company such as Shell lends further credibility to the ambitions we have for the rally in the coming years.”

A full range of tickets for Wales Rally GB is now on sale, offering considerable savings for those booking in advance, while access to the Deeside Service Park is free of charge. The latest event and ticket information is available on the official website.

For further updates, follow Wales Rally GB on Twitter @walesrallygb or join the conversations on Facebook at


Hyundai Motor UK is Official Car Partner to Wales Rally GB

Wales Rally GB is delighted to announce that Hyundai Motor UK is extending its partnership with Britain’s concluding round of the FIA World Rally Championship, brokered by Slingshot Sponsorship.

Building on last year’s successful affiliation, Hyundai Motor UK has been reappointed as the event’s ‘Official Car Partner’ – a move that reinforces the company’s growing presence at the forefront of the WRC. Hyundai Motorsport’s ambitious team last year secured its first WRC victory, alongside several other podium finishes, and so far this year, has secured podium finishes in Sweden and Sardinia.

The partnership between Wales Rally GB and Hyundai Motor UK will see the i20 WRC car once again featuring prominently on all the 2015 event’s promotional materials including posters, ticketing leaflets and publicity flyers as well as on the website and the cover of the official programme.

Hyundai Motor UK will also provide a fleet of liveried vehicles for use on the event by key members of the organisation team and FIA dignitaries.

“It was a pleasure to join forces with Hyundai last year and we are delighted the company will extend its role as ‘Official Car Partner’ to Wales Rally GB in 2015,” said Ben Taylor, Managing Director of Wales Rally GB. “The staging of a major world championship event is a huge project, and we couldn’t possibly achieve it without the support of major partners like Hyundai. Their increased involvement is reflective of the greater commercialisation of the event and demonstrates the value that the rally can bring to partners.”

The Hyundai Motorsport team enjoyed an encouraging Wales Rally GB debut in 2014 when Thierry Neuville just missed out on a podium with a highly creditable fourth position. There was further success, too, in the National Rally with BBC TopGear magazine’s Oliver Marriage taking B2 Class Honours in his Hyundai i20. The team will be running a four car line-up at this year’s Wales Rally GB, which will feature British co-driver Sebastian Marshall, who will be joining promising Dutch driver Kevin Abbring in one car.

Tony Whitehorn, President & CEO, Hyundai Motor UK Ltd commented, “We are delighted to be supporting the smooth operation of Wales Rally GB for the second consecutive year – what better way is there to showcase the robustness of our products than over the tough forest rally routes of north and mid Wales in November!

He continued: “Rallying here in the UK has a significant, engaged and massively enthusiastic audience. We hope that through our continued support we can engage with our consumers in a more dynamic way as well helping to further raise awareness of Wales Rally GB.”

Wales Rally GB features four days of dramatic action, predominantly set on the legendary forest tracks of north and mid Wales in November. Full information and details of significantly discounted advance tickets can be found on the official website.

How Under Armour Delivered a Champion

With brands becoming fixated on trialing creative across a plethora of digital channels with mixed engagement success, it is easy to overlook the value of athletes in respect to capturing the consumer. Athlete sponsorship is now as competitive as the sports themselves, with the biggest brands in the world battling to obtain the best athletes – a key reason why athlete sponsorship deals are more lucrative than ever.

During the last decade Nike and Adidas have gained a stronghold on the sporting market utilising established sports stars to endorse their brands. This spend surpasses most other brands requiring them to become more resourceful to obtain the same benefits enjoyed through a high level brand ambassador partnership. Talent acquisition is crucial.

The big success story of 2015 has undeniably been Under Armour and its association with the new golfing sensation, Jordan Spieth. Under Armour originally signed the unknown Spieth to an endorsement deal in 2013. However, Under Armour granted the 21 year old a 10 year contract extension just months before his inaugural Masters win, creating an estimated $34m worth of exposure for the brand.

Whilst this would seem a gamble for the brand to invest a 10 year contract in someone who only had one career victory to his name, from Under Armour’s point of view this was by no means a gamble. The company’s senior professionals had followed Spieth and his career for a number of years, critically evaluating the potential of the player, much like a chief scout would in the professional game.

Following on from the Masters, Spieth has gone on to win the US Open – crediting two majors to his name. Most recently, he narrowly missed out at St. Andrews, which ended the chance of the newly coined ‘Spieth Slam’ but nonetheless delivered incredible exposure for Under Armour, leaving the Nike, Adidas and the rest of the field feeling as if they have missed the cut.

The Under Armour partnership with Jordan Spieth is evidence that innovation can overcome spend when implemented with creative insight.

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