The Pitfall of Long-Term Sponsorship Deals

English football team Chelsea and global sportswear brand Adidas outline the potential challenges that long termed partnerships can create. In early May this year, a mutual agreement was made to end the sponsorship deal that short-fell Adidas’ potential and failed to reflect the value of Chelsea FC.

The 10-year sponsorship deal ended after only four year on the basis that the partnership was not benefiting either party.  Chelsea felt the £300million deal did not reflect their success nor their value, whilst Adidas felt the deal was not in line with their new business strategy of maintaining a lesser number of sponsorships at an increased sponsorship sum for their sponsees.  Having recently made a £750million sponsorship deal with rival team Manchester United, Adidas left Chelsea FC feeling undervalued and believing they could achieve greater sponsorship than what had been offered to them 4 years ago. On the other end, with Chelsea’s shocking performance this past season, there was no incentive for Adidas to increase the amount of the sponsorship deal in a way that offered enough benefit and still aligned with their new strategy.

Whilst the partnership proved to be mutually beneficial for the initial years, in recent times with both parties growing and evolving it only proved to be a hindrance to their futures. With the sponsorship industry constantly growing and as a result its costs ballooning, Adidas prioritising their new strategy of a more focused portfolio.  Additionally, Chelsea’s acknowledgement that their partnership did not reflect their market worth today was vital in their growth with a new partner.

The sponsorship industry evolves at a rapid rate, shifting away from logo badging to strategic business deliverables. Simultaneously the sporting world, and more specifically the football industry remains somewhat volatile – with politics and the economy affecting players and transfers amplified by team performance (Leicester City).

Although signing a 10-year contract may seem beneficial, the pace of the industry and media landscape evolution creates more risk.  Long termed contracts in such changing conditions mean that partnerships can get to a stagnant point where neither party can maximise the initial benefits sought. The idea that an extensive contract will provide security is predominantly only viable when looking at the monetary side of sponsorship, but sponsorship is more than money.  This façade of security tends to be a contradictory ‘benefit’ – potentially being more risky than short term contracts that evolve as both partners evolve.

Brexit and What It Means for Sponsorship

The sponsorship industry has seen a significant growth recently, but will Brexit stall that growth?

As the world gets smaller and brand reach gets larger, the value of global and pan-regional properties such as Formula1 and the Euros become more appealing. These platforms provide brands buying efficiencies, homogenisation, and brand consistency – being able to unite fans through passion. As passions are shared regardless of region, language or culture, the ability to utilise cross-border sponsorships is a cost effective and often resource light way to reach a target audience. Regardless of what happens when the Government enacts Article 50, the demand for these sponsorship opportunities is unlikely to decrease.

However, the challenge will be on the increased pressures to effectively deliver the same output with additional issues around talent, visas, logistics and more. This is likely to be reflected in an increase in costs of activation which is unlikely to be pared with additional brand budget. Given that working and activating in Europe could become a lot more challenging – the appetite for purchase or allocated resource for implementation will decrease, especially if budgets aren’t increased in line with the additional resource. This could then significantly impact activation decisions to support a focus on logistics, rather than a dedication to creativity.

With the UK flying the flag for creativity in our industry, it will be interesting to watch how potential cross-border challenges could impact our nation’s sponsorship activation and positioning on a global scale.

Uncovering the real assets in Sailing Sponsorship

With the Clipper Round the World race generating in excess of £4.7m media value per team and the Volvo Ocean Race generating over £45m in media, you can be forgiven for thinking that sponsorship in sailing is just a global billboard on water for luxury brands such as Rolex, Hugo Boss and Prada.  However, if you strip back the big numbers, it’s actually a platform that can deliver unrivalled engagement through unique assets that can’t be found in the Formula1 pit lane.

It’s All About Big Data.

Data is changing the world and brands who are heavily developing this area (SAP, Salesforce, IBM) are using it. Often overlooked, the value of data in races such as the Volvo Ocean Race are crucial for delivering a stand at the podium.  Being a one-design race means that other than visually, there are no differences in the boats – it’s a level playing field. Consolidating and making use of data gathered in remote areas such as the middle of the ocean truly showcase the capability of data-driven businesses – turning data into insight, and insight into narrative.

Sponsorship of platforms that require a data-led approach are everywhere and most recently at Wimbledon with IBM, a partnership that has been in place for over 25 years. Through this sponsorship, IBM utilises the need for turning thousands of pieces of data, from multiple courts, into insight and narrative immediately. Alongside this they also integrate security products, servers and cognitive capabilities.

Everyone Wants an Experience

Formula 1 provides unrivalled hospitality with Michelin star chefs, the thrill of the pit-lane and the chance to watch races in exotic locations. Sailing also offers this, but due to the nature of the type of competition, there is much greater flexibility providing a unique and often un-experienced opportunity to take part and actually race it against the other boats. This becomes far more accessible to not only key clients but also customers and fans in general.

Emotive Content

Perhaps something not solely unique to sailing but none the less extremely attractive is the content that can be produced from the numerous races and competitions. The Americas Cup boats dancing around in the wind with a back drop of Manhattan is an incredible image to support any marketing campaign. Storytelling has become increasingly important, whether it’s a consultancy firm trying to showcase how they influence change in a business or a sports wear brand proving their products are used by the elite athletes. Each market has become increasingly crowded and the differentiator then becomes about engaging native content.

Sailing offers a unique opportunity for brands to align with teams to showcase their own unique offering. These races are regarded as some of the toughest challenges in the world, the sailors cover whole oceans with no rest and little sleep and must do their job perfectly, whilst also working together to win. It is similar to any business, their employees each specialise in their own field, all working together for the good of the company. Sponsors can access the rights free imagery and create unique content to communicate how their company mirrors the sailors, taking individual expertise and working together to achieve their objectives.

Being Green

Sailing is also a sport with a clean and positive image, powered by natural resources. Teams are looking at new ways to reduce their environmental impact and promote conservation efforts. Sailors also have first-hand experience of the large impact pollution and waste have on the marine environment.

This provides a great opportunity for brands to align with sailing teams who aspire to have their environmental values ingrained within their ethos. Aligning with a sustainable team or race will not only improve public perception, but will also bolster their own sustainability programmes.

Because sailing offers such great media exposure, it’s often too easy to overlook the true assets that brands can capitalise on at a fairly cost-effective price tag.  Big or small, involvement in sailing sponsorship should be a consideration for all brands trying to truly engage their customers – even if they aren’t on the ocean.

If you are interested in discussing sailing sponsorship opportunities, please ensure to contact the Slingshot team on 0207 226 5052.

Jackie Fast re-elected to the board of European Sponsorship Association

The European Sponsorship Association (ESA) announced last week that Jackie Fast, MD and Founder of Slingshot Sponsorship has been re-elected to the board for her second tenure.

ESA is the membership body which represents sponsorship professionals across Europe.

Jackie Fast was originally elected to the ESA board in 2013 and has been re-elected to the 15-strong board alongside Toby Hester from Sponsorship Coach who was also re-elected.

New members on the board were announced as Matthew Leopold from British Gas, Sophie Morris from Millharbour Marketing and Matt Stevenson from EE.
It was also announced that three current members are stepping down, they are Rob Mitchell of Wasps/Ricoh Arena, Gary Carey of Diageo and Helen Lamb of ESA.

The remit of the ESA board is to develop a strategy to ensure that the Association remains in the best position to represent the industry and to provide its members with valuable and usable benefits.

Jackie Fast will continue to develop The ESA Excellence Awards which are growing year on year and are widely regarded as the highest example of sponsorship achievement across all industry disciplines.

Jackie commented, “I’m pleased to have been re-elected to the board of the European Sponsorship Association where great work is being done to promote and celebrate the fabulous campaigns being run within our industry through the Excellence Awards. I am keen to continue to work with ESA on strategy to ensure that we are representing the interests of the industry as a whole and continuing to grow the best practice sponsorship throughout Europe.”

Slingshot to run bootcamp in Oslo

Slingshot Sponsorship’s MD Jackie Fast will be presenting a one-day sponsorship bootcamp in Oslo on August 26th 2016 hosted by our friends at ANFO Oslo. This is a unique chance to hear from one of the industry’s leading experts on how to successfully secure sponsorship in today’s landscape.
Slingshot Sponsorship’s aim is to help you grow your company through sponsorship programs that create priceless opportunities to consumers and incorporate motivating factors to drive brands investing in sponsorship.

Slingshot Sponsorship has successfully been running sessions to help rights holders increase sponsorship revenue and improve relationships with existing sponsors. To date, Slingshot have hosted over 400 rights holders at sessions run across the world.
The aim of the bootcamp is to help you discover ground-breaking partnerships big or small, which punch above their weight and measurably build your businesses and your sponsor brands.

Key takeaways from the event will include:
1. Current sponsorship practices & how the industry has changed
2. How to create the right sponsorship proposal – including communications strategy planning, audience development & commercialising your social media
3. Understanding your competition, and therefore your USP in the market – including creation of assets, understanding how brands value your opportunity & pricing your package
4. Sales technique & how to close the deal

Jackie Fast commented, “I am looking forward to coming to Oslo to present our agency’s framework for sustainable sponsorship. With an office in Oslo we can help provide further support for our delegates in the long term so I am delighted to be able engage with the Norwegian sponsorship industry.”

Join other forward-thinking leaders to find new and emerging practices and insights to grow your business and sponsorship revenue in an industry where the only certainty is change.

To book your place please click here.

Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC) Appoints Slingshot Sponsorship to add Commercial Boost to Winning Startups

Extreme Tech Challenge, the global search for the world’s best start-ups and entrepreneurs, is partnering with specialist global sponsorship experts Slingshot Sponsorship to further enhance their platform.

The Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC), now in its third year, sees thousands of top tier companies compete to earn a shot as finalists presenting to a panel of the most iconic entrepreneurs and accomplished pioneers in the business including Richard Branson, on his private island home, Necker Island. Along the way, contestants earn a shot to present on stage at the semifinals at the world’s largest technology trade show, CES in Las Vegas.

Extreme Tech Challenge is hosted by MaiTai Global, a worldwide community of renowned entrepreneurs, innovators and athletes. XTC brings together the ‘next generation of world class entrepreneurs’ and provides resources through its network aimed at providing winners with priceless visibility, resources to scale at low cost, and a vast global ‘people network’ to help leaders develop strong businesses around their product success.

As Bill Tai, Co-founder of MaiTai Global puts it, “We’ve selected Slingshot Sponsorship to bring fantastic new brand partners to the Extreme Tech Challenge, not only because they have an unmatched reputation in doing so, but also because they themselves were a start-up only six years ago. The Slingshot team embodies the type of organization we want to work with – passionate, skilled, and highly driven.”

Jackie Fast, MD and Founder of Slingshot Sponsorship added, “We’re thrilled to be working with MaiTai Global and the Extreme Tech Challenge because they offer a ground-breaking platform for up-and-coming entrepreneurs each year — a growing force in the economy. Industry disruption is becoming more prevalent and I’m excited to showcase how these ideas can be supported, executed and amplified through a collaborative partnership model.”

The Extreme Tech Challenge semi-finals will be held at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2017.

Sponsorship opportunities are now available for the Extreme Tech Challenge 2017. Please contact Slingshot on +44 (0) 207 226 5052 |

Note to Editors:
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 their value to become engaging business growth opportunities for brands to partner with. Clients include diverse verticals such as sport, events, celebrities, award programmes, music festivals, and charities – all with a desire of pushing the boundaries in traditional sponsorship.

For PR comments and information, please contact Kirsty Matthews
e. t: +44 (0) 7834 238109

The Experts in Branded Content – Nike Football Presents ‘The Switch’

There is one piece of sponsorship activation everyone at Slingshot has been talking about, Nike Football’s ‘The Switch’.

As part of Nike’s Spark Brilliance campaign, the video features Cristiano Ronaldo as the star, alongside a further 16 professional players including Harry Kane, Anthony Martial and Javier Mascherano. Interestingly it is Adidas, not Nike, that are sponsoring the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament in France, but the video could certainly lead you to think otherwise!

At 5 minutes and 57 seconds, ‘The Switch’ is the longest brand film ever created by Nike Football. The length of the film allows Nike to create a compelling story, rather than a simple advert, which not only captures the imagination, but also promotes Nike Football’s brand in a truly creative way. The film is the perfect example of how to integrate brand ambassadors into activation’s effectively to create unique branded content that resonates with Nike Football’s target audience, once again sparking the debate of Official Sponsorship and its value in today’s market.

Check out the video to see why we can’t stop watching!

Sponsorship, an effective employer branding promotion

Attracting top talents is highly crucial for any company. Every brand and company has been struggling to find those highly sought-after top talents, with marketers searching for years to find the right strategy.

In fact, one in three firms in the professional services sector have committed to significantly increase their budget in employee communications in 2016 as competition for talent becomes fiercer. Sponsorship can be the underlying support of this development.


How the world perceives you

Simply put, employer branding is all about the way you choose to present your company to the potential employees and the way you want them to see you.

When talking about attracting talents, the focus is on newly graduated students, but they should not be the only target. Those top talents could be the creative marketing director from your fiercest competitor to the new grad who might one day be CEO.

Employer branding also help to strengthen corporate branding (i.e. the way your clients perceive your company). The more you are known as a great place to work, the stronger your position as a great brand. By communicating your employer branding, you are most likely to attract talents that share your vision, making them motivated and efficient, leading to a better performance for your business.


Linking sponsorship to employer branding

Sponsorship is a notable way to build an engaging, memorable and unique relationship with your target audience, being customers or employees. This is all the more true since sponsorship holds many options within the marketing mix from mass media use and at event presence to PR and employee engagement.

By creatively activating sponsorship at an event where your targeted talents attend, you create a bond with the potential employee before they even consider your company as a potential employer, the ultimate goal of employer branding. Building a special relationship with the consumer to create the urge, if not the need, to work for the brand.

Sponsorship can provide the company with the opportunity to create a unique tone of voice by distinguishing itself from the competitors in a non – product related way. It is all the more so crucial when we know that top talents are naturally selective about where they want to work. This is especially important in the creative and tech industries where top talents are used to a more relaxed and original environment.

Values are also something not to underestimate. Using your values is an influential way to communicate with your target audience and a powerful tool to choose the events you should attend or the platform to sponsor (university sports/music teams, etc.).


Aldi and Nike, two leading brand in sponsoring to attract talents

There is no predetermined way of doing sponsorship to develop or strengthen the employer branding. The choice of what type of sponsorship to use is entirely up to the organisation and what they want to promote the best.

In 2012, Aldi, the global supermarket, agreed to sponsor the Loughborough University’s men’s hockey team, also present at various careers fairs throughout the UK.

Aldi’s strategy was to work with many UK universities to showcase the importance it gives to sporting excellence, achievement and student engagement.

The company has been able to discover and recruit potential graduate top talents for its Area Management programme thanks to its strong and lengthy presence in universities and career fairs, with many of the current Area Managers graduating from sponsored universities.

Another interesting case is the one of Nike, who is sponsoring a huge number of College and Universities in Canada and USA. More than 10 years ago, Nike was the first big apparel brand to make use of sponsorship for brand recognition by being featured in a college football jersey.

Historically, the brand has dominated the apparel sponsorship of college football, by sponsoring 79 of the 128 FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) college football team, 61.7 percent of apparel sponsorship in the FBS. More than that, Nike sponsors almost 90% of the last 17 FBS National Champions.

Nike, by sponsoring winning teams, has gained a reputation associated with the highest performing teams in college football, emphasizing their values of excellence, evolution and winning spirit. Thanks to all of this, Nike is being recognised as an employer capable of inspiring and challenging its employees on a day to day basis.



Slingshot Sponsorship MD Jackie Fast on Kobestarr Digital Podcast

Jackie Fast, Slingshot Sponsorship MD, starred on the Kobestarr Digital Podcast released on the 6th of June.

The podcast outlines how Slingshot Sponsorship has evolved and why it initially launched (not what you’d think!) and outlines why sponsorship isn’t just about money alone. In a true partnership, both parties are active in the relationship and the goals are aligned by one vision – without this collaboration, the partnership falls apart.


A section also outlines how sponsorship is extremely valuable to everyone and it’s not just the biggest brands that can benefit. Smaller organisations should consider sponsorship as being part of their strategy, all the more when it can help small or medium sized companies reach goals they couldn’t have if not partnering with a company.

Listen to the full podcast here.

Pathway To The Next Megastar – Under Armour & Athlete Owned Platforms

Athlete endorsement is nothing new, whether its Nike ownership of the once evergreen Tiger Woods to Kellogg’s deal which saw Bruce Jenner as the face of the cereal through the 1970’s. What is new however is the success which Under Armour is delivering against its more established, been-there-and-done-it, global rivals Adidas & Nike.

Not to be misquoted, it is worth acknowledging that Under Armour also has a cohort of team sponsorships with Wales RFU and Tottenham Hotspur FC, however it is the roster of athlete endorsements which has seen the brand break the sporting apparel duopoly.

One of the most recent acquisitions provides a great case study on the brands strategy and the proliferation of athlete owned platforms, Under Armour’s sponsorship of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

The accomplished actor/sportsman/fitness star/ social media sensation is now an Under Armour Ambassador. With one look at The Rock’s owned Instagram account it is easy for the 51.2m followers to see the brands integration across both gym and lifestyle apparel. In addition, The Rock has worked with Under Armour to design his own exclusive, limited edition range, self-titled ‘Project Rock’. Utilising both the brand and The Rock’s audiences these products have been seeded across multiple channels, with The Rock showcasing the equipment on Instagram prior to its release on the ecommerce area of UA’s website further supporting the hype. Clearly this strategy provided successful returns with the first three released products selling out in minutes of being on sale.

With the signing of The Rock it appears Under Armour have beaten the competition to the next ascending media megastar, with this tactic duplicated with a number of the other Under Armour talents (Jordan Spieth). Perhaps the rise of the brand and the subsequent affiliations are not as surprising as the fact that Nike and Adidas appears to not have provided a significant counter action to this activity.

However, it is worth mentioning that Adidas is now looking to address this having reviewed its strategy (especially around the NBA) where it will opt out of renewing the NBA league sponsorship in favour of individual athlete endorsements, where it hopes to double its NBA athletes by the end of 2017.

This is an area which one would assume brands would have a core focus on, after all there is a well-trodden tale of Nike’s turning point to megabrand when not so long ago the challenger brand secured the signature at all costs of a kid by the name of Michael Jordan beating out the dominant brands at the time, Adidas and Converse.

Some may view this as an archaic model which the dominant brands of today have moved away from, however it might just be the pathway which Under Armour needs to become the next global megabrand.

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