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.

Treat Them Mean, Keep Them Keen – Not In Sponsorship

Now more than ever the sponsorship market is packed full of opportunities for brands, making the task of securing brand sponsors an ever harder job for rights holders. The need now for rights holders is to not only understand the value of their propositions, but also find a way to differentiate from the competition to bring in that much craved sponsorship revenue.

To do this, many rights holders are now investing heavily to upskill their sales teams. In doing this, rights holders are realising that there is a great deal of prior effort and expertise needed to secure sponsors, and therefore retaining sponsors is perhaps now even more important than it once was.

As sponsors become ever more precious to a rights holder you would assume that it would be fundamental for a rights holder to make sure they go above and beyond on delivery, however, all too often there still seems to be a disconnect, as many brands are miss-sold on promises that are never delivered.

This disconnect will of course hurt a brand when it comes to successfully activating their sponsorship, but for rights holders, besides the obvious initial financial void and short term pressures that come with that, this could have a far more adverse effect in the long run:

Bad Reputation – people talk. It doesn’t matter whether the brand has paid £5k or £5m, it’s a small world and word travels fast, especially in this digital era with a bad reference only a click away. Much like how happy sponsors are generally very willing to shout about you in a positive light, the same goes for a disgruntled sponsor who will have no remorse when shouting about you in a derogative fashion. Having a bad reputation as a rights holder when it comes to delivering sponsorship will undoubtedly plant seeds of doubt into any brand when they receive a proposal about investing in your platform.

Weakened Platform – in many cases sponsors provide a lot more than just cash, they can add significant value to a property though a variety of means such as increased promotion, engagement and consumer experience. Having successful case studies and previous positive relationships are great tools when selling to prospective brands, so not having these case studies will make a sale all the more difficult. In some cases, the sale of sponsorship could also depend heavily on who is already associated with the platform (especially in B2B sponsorship), so losing one sponsor could potentially result in losing a number of prospective ones too.

Regret – rights holders with multiple sponsors generally have a harder job to ensure a flawless delivery, and will often find it becomes a fine balancing act to decide which brand should be given the most attention at any given time. In these circumstances, it is often most likely to result in the lower tiered sponsor being neglected, and therefore walking away from future involvement (although there are cases of this occurring with high profile sponsors also). Either way, it is criminal for a rights holder to fail to deliver on their promises no matter who the brand is or what they have invested, especially in today’s climate when it is possible for brands to become world famous overnight. Imagine if that lower tiered sponsor turned out to be the next Uber or Spotify.

Selling sponsorship is never easy, in fact it is probably one of the most underrated skills in business full stop. Due to the nature of sponsorship and the regular changes in strategies for both rights holders and brands, it is natural that some sponsorships will have a short shelf life and often nothing can be done to stop the relationship coming to an end, but to lose a sponsor due to a poor relationship or miss selling is something that needs to be avoided at all costs!

To learn more about the ins and outs of selling and maintaining sponsorship effectively – attend our Sessions event on Thursday May 26th or call our London office on 0207 226 5052 for more information.

Jackie Fast named as Entrepreneur of the Week

Jackie Fast has been announced Entrepreneur of the Week by The Budding Entrepreneur Magazine.

Jackie was interviewed for The Budding Entrepreneur Magazine, you can read the interview below:

Tell us about you and the business
Slingshot creates revenue for organisations through the process of transforming those organisations into viable marketing platforms for brands. Basically we get sponsors for events, online platforms, television, associations, celebrities and charities. Launched on the premise that sponsorship can do more than just brand awareness through logo badging, we uncover the true value and business synergies that deliver significant ROI for all parties involved. This approach is based on business value – we are essentially commercial experts for organisations wanting to grow.

How are you helping start-ups?
Almost 70% of our Bootcamps are with start-up businesses as creating a robust sponsorship strategy is vital to not only their ambitious growth plans, but tends to also be the only way the Founders can earn a salary.
We also have a quarterly training module with General Assembly, which is specific to the tech start up community. Many tech start-ups secure VC funding at product development stage; however, when they go to launch it – funds have dried out, so we teach tech start-ups (and VC fund managers) how to utilise sponsorship techniques to reach users critical mass for awareness (and sales).

Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I’ve always been an entrepreneur, but I’m not sure I always wanted to be one (or really understood what one was) at a young age. I like executing ideas – in often controversial ways, so being my own boss is typically the easiest way to do this.

Where did the idea come from?
I’ve been known as a financial fixer in my previous roles – I find solutions to money problems using creative commercial strategies. It was a very simple step to go from that into sponsorship.

Do you have a business role model?
I don’t have a particular business role model, but I admire people who don’t take no for an answer and who aren’t worried about what other people think. I’m also a huge fan of Harriet Green as she cold called her last employer (Thomas Cook). I love anyone who cold calls a Chairman of a company outlining why things could be done better.

What were you doing before you started?
I initiated and led the first sponsorship division of the Direct Marketing Association in the UK.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Hiring the right people for business growth. Our people are so vital to our business and so it’s so important to work with the right ones. However, it can also be a challenging job with a lot of pressure – and it’s been a learning experience trying to identify the right types of people who can be successful in this environment.

What has been the biggest breakthrough?
Learning that the emotions in business come in cycles – and everyone goes through hard times, but the important thing is to keep your vision and keep a smile on your face.

Do you think there is enough entrepreneurship taught in the education system?
I actually think there is a lot of entrepreneurship education everywhere (including the education system); however, most of the time it’s has little awareness with actual budding entrepreneurs. I think we could do more to promote the available opportunities.

What are your plans for this year?
Slingshot have been actively opening our horizons globally – with projects already in India, Africa, and Asia this year alone, we are hoping to build our presence in these new markets.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
With a great team working on excellent partnership opportunities with brands you haven’t heard of yet.

Slingshot Sponsorship Open Pitch Night at Shoreditch House – Win a Free Consultancy Session worth £5k

June 14th | 7pm | Shoredtich House

Slingshot Sponsorship are hosting an Open Pitch night with Soho House Group on June 14th at Shoreditch House for members (or friends of members).  If you want to nail your sponsorship sales pitch – come prepared with your deck and your choice of one of five brands to pitch to, present to our team of brand buying experts and get direct feedback that will take your pitch to new levels. You will also be able to watch other pitches live and gain further understanding of what brands are looking for, what questions they will ask, and what will ultimately make them sign on the dotted line. And the best bit?  The best pitch of the evening will also receive a full 1-to-1 consultancy day with Slingshot Sponsorship, worth £5k. This is not to be missed so come and take the stage! 

Brands you can tailor your pitch to (you won’t actually be pitching to these brands): Blackberry, Marks & Spencer, Chelsea Football Club, Rolex, or Red Bull.

To note, this is a culmination of our monthly events with Shoreditch House and our next free monthly event is going to be held on June 7th at 11am.

We will only be taking a limited number of pitches, so if you want to sign up please email Pitch@slingshotsponsorship.com at your earliest convenience.  Pitch spaces are on a first come, first serve basis.

If you are a member of Soho House you can find more details online and also ensure you register your place here.  To note, registration does not mean you have a pitch slot – it just means you can attend.  You must email Pitch@slingshotsponsorship.com to reserve your pitch slot.

Slingshot announced as partnership agency for Rock Star Racing Team

Slingshot Sponsorship today announced that they will be working with brand new professional ocean racing sailing team Rock Star Racing.
Slingshot have been appointed to develop, build and deliver high level global commercial relationships for this team of expert sailors whose objective is to win significant sporting challenges, beginning with the world’s most prestigious sailing event, the Volvo Ocean Race next year.

Alister Richardson, Rock Star Racing Team CEO said:
“We’re thrilled to be working with Slingshot Sponsorship to bring sponsors on board with us on what will be an exhilarating journey. We have a strong team comprising world-class sailors who are highly ambitious, testament to that is that fact we’re planning to challenge for the Volvo Ocean Race next year so watch out for us!”

Rock Star Racing has already named its leadership team as Alister Richardson, James McHugh, Robert Greenhalgh and Simon Fisher, you can read more about the team’s credentials and achievements here.

Jackie Fast, MD of Slingshot Sponsorship commented:
“Rock Star Racing are a very exciting potential partnership for brands who have a global presence, with the Volvo Ocean Race visiting nine ports in as many months across Spain, South Africa, China, New Zealand, USA, UK, Portugal, Sweden and The Netherlands. Bringing the team ethos into the fairly traditional world of sailing sponsorship will definitely shake things up – and this falls completely in line with the type of projects Slingshot loves to work on. We are really excited about this – it’s a great partnership for everyone involved!”

Partnership opportunities with the team have just been released. If you are interested in discussing sponsorship opportunities, please ensure to contact the Slingshot team on 0207 226 5052 as space and availability is exclusive and limited.

How to sponsor like a Rockstar

How buying rights is half the battle

There are many persuasive reasons why sponsorship is worth the money. Notably, sponsorship gives a brand a dominant platform for leverage however, if you want to invest – you have to make your investment work. Buying sponsorship rights is only the half of it. When you buy any sponsorship package you are buying an opportunity – not results. It is leverage that provides the results. A great case study in how to leverage rights and effective sponsorship can be seen with Rockstar Energy’s recent sponsorship of Snowboxx 2016.

The weeklong winter event is set in the heart of the Alps in one of France’s premier skiing resorts, Avoriaz. The event plays host to some 4,000 adrenalin junkies who turn up for great powder and equally great music artists. With top performing DJs and live artists such as Stormzy, Sigma, Paul Woolford, Mella Dee and Grandmaster Flash – everything from the heaviest grime, hip hop and house could be heard at over 1800ft.

When you think of rockstars, your mind is instantly drawn to The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and Gun’s n Roses! The definition of partying like a ‘rockstar’, as stated by the Urban Dictionary – is where ‘someone can stay up and party hard all night long’ – so when you see Rockstar Energy sponsoring a winter music festival offering consumers the opportunity to party like a ‘rockstar’ you wonder why and how they can do so?

Rockstar Energy, the third biggest energy drink brand in the world and the last non-corporate owned energy drink on the market – chose to sponsor Snowboxx 2016 in order to give its consumers a taste of what it’s like to party like a Rockstar. Here is how they attempted it:

Customer Experience

The most important aspect of the sponsorship opportunity for Rockstar Energy was customer experience, the energy drink took VIP to a new level by offering 26 competition winners the ultimate experience for any music lover, the opportunity to party like a rockstar! The lucky winners were treated with a week’s holiday in Avoriaz, including flights, festival ticket, ski passes and the best VIP access to stages and artists. Now that’s a rockstar experience!

POS

In order to drive excitement and interest, Rockstar created bold and exciting structured POS to be used through key retail partners. This was effectively achieved with the use of a competition to win VIP festival tickets to support the customer experience and was present in the UK, Finland and the US providing a reach much greater than the festival itself.

Branding

Throughout the festival site, Rockstar Energy was seen as ‘the’ energy drink. Branding on and around the mainstage framed every artist’s epic performance, whilst POS encouraged purchase throughout the resort. Rockstar became a significant part of the visual elements of the festival.

Customer touch points

Ensuring maximum exposure to the captive audience, Rockstar was stocked exclusively throughout all bars onsite. In addition, Rockstar made use of the key times of pre and post piste to activate a sampling campaign in order to revitalise the festival attendees. This meant the only way to regain your energy to party like a rockstar, was to drink a can of Rockstar Energy. On top of this they hosted their own DJ (Bunch of Deckheads) to play at an intimate gig in the Avoriaz stash park (freestyle area) based on the side of one the breath-taking mountains.

Content

Keen to amplify the onsite activity to the 90,000 social media followers outside the resort, Rockstar hosted exclusive supporting content across all digital platforms. This included images and videos of sweeping mountain landscapes and high adrenaline action shots from some very talented freestyle skiers – on top of all this, Rockstar even interacted with other sponsors – Coors Light and Jungfrau, ensuring no possible social news feed was left untouched.

Conclusion

Having set out with a clear sponsorship plan, with clear ideas of success – Rockstar Energy were able to leverage their key assets on a number of platforms to ensure an effective delivery to their captive audience.

The VIPs may well have lived like rockstars, but Rockstar Energy sure do sponsorship like one!

Top 5 Tips On Maximising Sponsorship At Your Next Event

Sponsorship is not only important for generating financial resources but also is crucial in creating credibility, brand experience, audience engagement and goodwill. Which begs the question, why don’t more events or platforms bring sponsors on-board? A recent survey in Admap magazine showed 86% of sport fans welcome brand interaction as they believe it will improve their experience.

One issue experienced within the event industry is that brands rarely maximise the ROI from the events they integrate with, as such they dismiss many opportunities whilst squandering their marketing budget on archaic forms of promotion such as logos badging instead of recognizing the real benefits that lay within sponsorship.

  1. Monetary Benefits

Sponsoring events that have your target audience provides brands the opportunity to:

  • reduce marketing budget spend through the efficient use of marketing budget and integration
  • increase direct sales
  • gain PR content through involvement and activation
  1. Brand Experience

Sponsorship of an event offers organisations a platform to access their target audience – creating meaningful brand experiences. This enables the brand to let the audience become part of the brand and product. The experience is always dependant on the product’s interaction capabilities, but a successful brand experience is always more engaging than a logo. Through this criteria the engagement becomes measureable and transparent for the brand as it allows real-time feedback from their consumers.

  1. Increasing the Halo effect

A company who integrates with a charity event as a sponsor to meet their CSR targets is able to improve their public relations and any other CSR goals set. Through integration they have the opportunity to create a positive impact on their social environment. Pro bono and charity work has long been part of company’s ethos and sponsorship also offers this to all brands. In addition, it allows employees to engage with the charity and align with brand values.

  1. Audience Engagement

Sponsorship offers brands a great opportunity to engage their target audience, offering meaningful and lasting investment resonance.  Brands need to uncover their own assets within the event’s rights and increase the overall event experience of attendees.

  1. Reputation Improvement

A corporate relationship with an event can provide an enhanced reputation of a brand and also secures a competitive advantage to rivals in business. An event which aligns to the image of a sponsor has the potential to further strengthen credibility.

When BP’s catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico occurred, sponsoring the Olympics was a quick and fairly easy way to manage their global reputation crisis – supporting their sustainability credentials.

With the vast and significant benefits that sponsorship of events offers brands – it would be fatal to not include it within the marketing mix.

Slingshot heads to India

Slingshot Sponsorship are heading to India later this month to work with IDBI Federal Life Insurance, one of India’s fastest growing life insurance companies.

Slingshot’s remit is to help build sponsorship strategy into the marketing team at IDBI Federal and support the team in their role to maximise the potential of their current and any future sponsorship investments.

Karthik Raman, Chief Marketing Officer, IDBI Federal Life Insurance, said:
“As a growing organisation operating in a highly competitive marketplace, it’s important for us to have a differentiated marketing approach. In the last couple of months we have taken important steps to boost our brand building efforts using sponsorships and experiential marketing initiatives. We’re eager to work with Jackie and the team at Slingshot to help us to further derive the long term value of our brand and brand associations. We know that bringing practical implementation solutions to our sponsorships will result in increased benefits to our customers which we’re always striving to deliver.”

Jackie Fast, MD of Slingshot explains; “We’re looking forward to working with IDBI Federal and helping them leverage their sponsorship assets further than typical logo badging. It’s also very exciting for us to be working with firms in India as expanding our client portfolio within the World’s largest democracy is a central element to our global growth strategy.”

Muscular Dystrophy UK appoints Slingshot Sponsorship to drive commercial strategy

Slingshot Sponsorship today announce their new client, Muscular Dystrophy UK. Slingshot has been selected by the charity to help drive new commercial relationships and a long term strategy.

Muscular Dystrophy UK, founded in 1959, supports and helps bring together people affected by more than 60 rare and very rare progressive muscle-weakening and wasting conditions.

Rebecca Day, Director of Development for Muscular Dystrophy UK says:

“For Muscular Dystrophy UK, research is at a critical stage requiring a real acceleration in investment; along with all we want to accomplish in providing ongoing support for families living with these devastating muscle-wasting conditions.  Wholly reliant on voluntary income, we are keen to take a thorough and proactive approach to identify and maximize the potential of commercial partnerships to meet our goals. Slingshot responded to our brief with a perfect blend of energy and passion for the project, coupled with evident and demonstrable expertise. We are extremely excited to see what we can achieve by working together.”

Jackie Fast, MD of Slingshot Sponsorship said of the new partnership, “We’re delighted to be working with such a well-renowned British charity to help them make the most of the commercial benefit to their research and income streams.”

 

Heading off Piste – Solving Platform Issues With Sponsorship

Fresh from the success of Snowboxx 2016 just this month, we thought this would be a great time to shine a light on how Snowboxx has utilised sponsorship to develop the event.

Snowboxx is a week long snow escape combining the perfect ski holiday by day with the excitement and hype of a festival hosting world renowned DJ’s by night. Based in the picturesque resort of Avoriaz in France the festival has grown year on year, welcoming over 4,000 attendees to this alpine getaway. However when planning the 2016 event, Snowboxx faced a number of challenges which it felt were creating barriers to the event’s growth & customer experience.

In order to overcome these challenges Slingshot worked with the sponsors to ensure all activation was curated to create a positive contribution to the identified areas, whilst supporting the on-point brand activity. This allowed sponsors to not only project their desired messaging but to also provide meaningful engagement to the festival and attendees alike.

Sponsorship Solutions

The four sponsors of Coors Light, Rockstar, Jungfrau & Dare2B all brought brand activations and expertise to the event, highlights include:

  1. Social Media & Content

A key challenge to rights-holders is social media, the management of content and how to engage with the attendees in an engaging manner. As such Coors Light, the brand for ‘Damme cold’ refreshment had a huge focus on amplifying their sponsorship outside of the festival boundaries of France. With a thirst for content and social interaction Coors Light developed a social media centric campaign to support their sponsorship including the curation of a unique Coors Light Igloo Party, a Twitter competition to win tickets for the Igloo Party, in addition to the chance to win a trip to Snowboxx courtesy of Coors Light – now that’s refreshing!

  1. New Audience & Reach

Ensuring an event is reaching new audiences and providing unique experiences are key to growth and attendee retention. With a platform seemingly made for Rockstar who embody the spirit of music and adrenaline fueled activity, Snowboxx was able to benefit from the launch of the new Freeze product variety and the supporting campaign. Launching with striking point of sale creative across a number of key retailers both inside and outside of the UK, Rockstar offered customers the chance to win the ultimate VIP experiences at Snowboxx including accommodation, lift passes, flights and even onstage viewing during the acts. In addition to this Rockstar was onsite throughout the festival providing the added revival to all the attendees for the long slope days and late nights at the main stage.

  1. Customer Experience

In a unique development for winter festivals, Snowboxx 2016 introduced a festival village within the heart of Avoriaz in addition to hosting bars and clubs across the resort. Due to the sprawling site it was imperative that the customer experience wasn’t impaired by the cold or misdirection. As the official clothing partner of Snowboxx 2016 Dare2B wanted to align with the youthful winter sport market and be seen as the equipment of choice for the slopes. By providing the clothing for all onsite staff Dare2B had over 70 branded customer service reps roaming the resort.

  1. Retaining Momentum

Captivating an audience outside of the core entertainment schedule is a challenge not only restricted to the festival scene. Highlighting the periods of most downtime for attendees Jungfrau hosted activity from the Jungfrau Igloo atop the main festival site, to be the saviour for all those forgotten, hats, hip flasks and shot glasses. Through the festival Jungfrau provided refreshments throughout the down days with sampling whilst providing attendees with branded merchandise including glasses, bobble hats and the ‘piste’ de resistance, the Jungfrau branded shot ski’s revered by all the attendees’ onsite. This coupled with an engaging social team to support and interact with all captured content allowed Jungfrau and Snowboxx to connect with the attendees outside of the core entertainment times.

Results

Snowboxx 2016 was met with roaring acclaim from attendees, with one group describing it as “the best week of their lives” whilst on the final chair lift. No doubt with the increasing allocation of tickets next year the event is sure to sell out once again.

So much emphasis is focused on alternative revenue when right-holders initially look to secure sponsorship, rarely are the other benefits spoken of until this topic is exhausted. However when looking at the challenges or weaknesses in your own platform you can utilise sponsor expertise to help upgrade this thinking much below the initial surge in the bank balance.

Page 1 of 3212345...102030...Last »