You’ve got to do your research!

In an extremely over-crowded market, sourcing sponsorship requires skill, patience and of course, research. The majority of rights holders looking for sponsorship will approach a brand and tell them how their event is the best, but do they know that for sure.

Scope it out

There are thousands of sports teams, events and charities all competing for the same sponsors, therefore, it is crucial to actively look at what others are doing in the market.

If a company were looking to release a new product, the first thing they would do is ensure the market is thoroughly analysed, assessing what their competitors are offering and at what price.

What’s in their basket?

Understanding your competitors offering is the best start point for any rights holder. In this cluttered market, it is important to know what you are up against and how you can then position your own offering, focusing on your unique assets.

Go along to events, visit other teams/properties and even try to get your hands on their proposals. If you do this and find that you haven’t got any unique assets to offer then you need to invest time into uncovering them, as every rights holder will have something unique to offer. Without this insight, you will be entering the market blind, with no idea of whether you are over-selling, under-selling, or if your offering can provide a brand with something no-one else can.

Make sure you identify the correct competitors when doing research. It isn’t just cross-industry or direct competitors; sponsorship is a universal industry so you will be competing with rights-holders from multiple sectors. A local sports team might be competing with a national event, if they approach the same brand. Think outside the box and broaden your research.

The Price is Right

Although valuation is determined on numerous methodologies, the rights fee is also impacted based on the competitive landscape. If your rights fee is to too high then brands will be put off, too low and your platform is undervalued, reducing the revenue you can gain.

Right’s holders need to ensure their whole package is priced correctly within the market, so it is vital to benchmark this against industry standards.

Within a competitive landscape, any rights holder regardless of industry or size, should first research the market, make adjustments and ensure their platform stands out for the right reasons.

Slingshot Sponsorship MD, Jackie Fast, shortlisted in the ‘Micro Business category for the 2016 Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

A most prestigious and proud event, regarded as the benchmark for entrepreneurial success in the UK, the awards celebrate the contributions and innovations of British entrepreneurs and their impact on the economy. Where over 100 Great British Entrepreneurs have been announced as finalists in the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, our very own Jackie Fast has been named amongst them.

Since launching in 2012, the Great British Entrepreneur Awards has received applications from over 1800 entrepreneurs. The Awards recognises business leaders from multiple industries across the 20 awards categories. Previous winners have included Julie Deane MBE, founder of the Cambridge Satchel Company, James Watt, co-founder of Brewdog and Alexander Solomou, founder of Lad Bible.

As Managing Director of Slingshot Sponsorship, Jackie has built the company from her bedroom to working with clients now such as XTC with Richard Branson and ‘Rock Star Racing’ within the Volvo Ocean Race. Slingshot’s plans for the future are to grow, develop and excel within the sponsorship industry as a flagship agency providing aid for a number of rights holders to acquire sponsorship.

On being shortlisted, Jackie commented: “It is always an honour to just be recognised amongst such a strong field of strong entrepreneurs, to be shortlisted within the Great British Entrepreneur Awards is a remarkable achievement personally, and from a company standpoint. We at Slingshot Sponsorship immerse ourselves as hard working individuals, and strongly believe that hard work does not go unnoticed”.

The Great British Entrepreneur Awards is all about celebrating the wonderful stories that entrepreneurs have, and helping them on their journey to success.

Nick James, Founder of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, said: “This year we have yet again enjoyed an increase in the amount of entries for the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, and every single category is fiercely contested. There is no doubt that Entrepreneurialism is alive and well in the UK despite any uncertainty over Brexit.”

The Great British Entrepreneur Awards will culminate at the Gala Final, taking place on Tuesday 22nd November in the ballrooms of the prestigious, Lancaster London Hotel.

Brand exposure isn’t everything; synergies are the way forward!

Quite simply, an organisation’s sponsorship strategy should be built around a value proposition that is congruent with the brand personality. Similarly, sponsorship should also be consistent with the rights holder’s objectives and marketplace. In fact this can sound very complex in an ever changing world and industry for organisations hoping to achieve global admission.

At Slingshot, we understand sponsorship is an imperative source of income in order for the property to achieve their corporate goals. Similarly, we also aim to secure sponsors that will equally benefit through positive brand image and attribute associations the property’s audience hold, which can be transferred to their own brand. It goes without saying that partnerships can and should be mutually beneficial.

Strategic partnerships

An organisation lacking essential resources must establish relationships with others in order to gain access to those needed resources. The above suggests that sponsorship is an avenue only blue chip brands can execute because of the surrounding economic politics. The global notion is that sponsorship only enhances the intangible capabilities of an organisation; brand and reputation. This, though, is completely false as the tangible capabilities can also be enhanced through sponsorship. By understanding this, rights holders can extract real value through effective sponsorship.

There is a fine line between advertising and sponsorship; sponsorship tends to focus on the longevity of the brand and can play a significant role in sustaining a competitive advantage, exploiting opportunities and mitigating threats. Advertising, however, is generally used to achieve short-term objectives, such as increasing sales or brand exposure during a particular business quarter or yearly season. Although sponsorship doesn’t always provide an immediate return on investment, it enables a reputation to withstand for a long period of time, which can increase the profitability and shareholder value of the sponsoring brand beyond that of one-dimensional advertising.

Sponsoring global sports brands doesn’t always work

Many global sports teams boast extensive sponsor portfolios, most of which derive from multiple countries and represent various product categories; these sponsors generally receive visual branding on team assets, attire and equipment; this places their brand logos in close proximity to each other. For sponsoring brands, this type of strategic alliance can enhance their brand equity and brand strength, thereby ultimately increasing the shareholder value. However, empirical research accedes that rights holders with a larger sponsor portfolio can have a negative impact on each of their sponsoring brands as ‘spillover’ effects make the brand less prominent therefore have a reduced level of brand equity amongst targeted consumers. This indicates that sponsoring brands must carefully evaluate the potential sponsorship platform to see whether their assets and resources correlate with the sponsoring brand’s business objectives and exposure requirements.

SME’s, listen up!

Although the general consensus surrounding sponsorship is that it only increases awareness and prompts consumer purchase for brands there is also literature pointing towards the opportunity for improved organisational performance for brands that use the sponsored property as a platform for research and development. What most SME’s do not realise is that they can use the property to showcase and test their product/service in a fast paced environment, test prototypes before commercial release and form technical partnerships. This also provides the opportunity for communication between stakeholders of high interest, an enhanced understanding of the product/service characteristics and an increase in staff morale due to involvement in the project. Many industry experts echo this view, arguing that these augmented functions that come with the sponsorship can only improve productivity and efficiency within an organisation, enable them to optimise their product/service before general release and provide an internal structure towards objectives. Despite the above, brands will need to consider the lack of control over the presentation, structure, rules and format of the platform and reliability of base for R&D in order to truly maximise the potential benefits.

Are we too scared to learn?

I recently spoke at the Social Travel Summit in Inverness, which was a completely new experience – I’m used to speaking at sponsorship conferences.  I arrived in the middle of a session where they had split industry (Trivago, VisitBritain, etc) and travel bloggers into breakout rooms before lunch.  So as not to disturb, I peeked my head into the bloggers session to find a packed room.  As I crept down the hall to peek into the industry room, expecting to see only a handful of people, I was surprised to see that industry actually filled up a bigger room than the bloggers!

I was shocked.  In all of my experience and with all discussions about sponsorship events, brands avoid conferences like the plague and rights holders only attend to hit up the brands that are speaking.  I assumed this would be the same.  It turns out that it is (bloggers definitely are hitting up the industry for work), but after querying a couple of people in industry, it turns out that they don’t mind and “really understand the need for bloggers to help them build authenticity and create a genuine conversation with their customers”.

I have always been a big fan of events – not least for the after parties, but it makes me question whether the sponsorship industry’s gut reaction to avoid being bombarded is hindering our potential.  Rather than creating special events that brands feel comfortable in, we should be creating compelling content in an environment that encourages and nurtures partnerships.

And don’t we all believe in a partnership at the end of the day?

Slingshot Sponsorship MD, Jackie Fast, shortlisted in the ‘Entrepreneur’ category at the Women of the Future Awards 2016

The shortlist for the Women of the Future Awards 2016, the movement celebrating and nurturing the pipeline of female talent in the UK, has been announced. Slingshot Sponsorship MD, Jackie Fast, has been shortlisted as one of the finalists in the ‘Entrepreneur’ category.

The Women of the Future Awards, now in their 11th year and proudly supported by headline sponsor Aviva, recognise the inspirational young female stars of today and tomorrow. They are open to women aged 35 or under and celebrate talent across categories including business, entrepreneur, culture, media, technology and more.

Jackie, alongside other candidates shortlisted across 14 categories, will meet with judges on October 14 and the winners will be announced at the Awards on November 16.

On being shortlisted, Jackie commented: “This year’s shortlist is really strong so it’s an honour to have been shortlisted alongside many inspiring and courageous women in the ‘Entrepreneur’ category at the Women of the Future Awards. It goes to show that all the hard, creative and innovative work Slingshot Sponsorship has been doing really pays off.”

For more information, follow @womenoffuture and#WOF2016 on Twitter, and WomenOfTheFutureAwards on Facebook.

‘2 Wrongs Don’t Make a Right’

Rights holders have generally been perceived as the dominant party within sponsorship contracts, this is because the rights holder unarguably has complete control in the dictation of which brands are granted access in becoming a sponsor or not. This often creates the illusion that rights holders are the dominant party and have the power to terminate contracts if they wish.


However, with the sponsorship market growing more cluttered with a vast array of opportunities now available for brands, sponsorship sales are increasing in difficulty to acquire, therefore, sponsorship revenue is becoming ever more precious for rights holders. As such, the power struggle between rights holders and brands have become considerably more balanced.


Having sponsorship funds retracted can be critically damaging to a rights holder and the hole created as a consequence can often lead to a detrimental knock-on effect. For example, a sports team without this financial security may not be able to buy the desired players, just as a festival may not be able to hire talented musicians for a strong headline act.


There have been countless recent case studies where brands have been the ones to pull the plug on sponsorship deals. A famous example of this is Adidas’ recently terminated sponsorship deal with the IAAF in wake of its doping crisis. The 11-year sponsorship deal with Adidas was set to run until 2019 and was reportedly worth £23m. The projected loss of revenue for the IAAF and its agency Dentsu over the next four years alone is more than £21m, which will undeniably have a long term negative effect on the sport as a whole.


According to an official press release that accompanied the deal announcement in 2008, the partnership between the IAAF and Adidas incorporated “every aspect of athletics, from product creation, to grassroots development”, suggesting that Adidas were committed to this partnership for a multitude of reasons and although the brand was under huge pressure to react to these scandals (and in no way can the actions of certain people at the IAAF be condoned) it could be argued that by pulling its funding, Adidas failed to spot an opportunity to rise above the negative connotations and display its commitment to the next generation of athletics stars instead of tarring them under the same brush as their predecessors.


Recently, Eddie McGuire, Australian Football League’s Director of Collingwood, evoked uproar at the Big Freeze, a charity event to raise awareness for motor neuron disease. McGuire made comments in regards to holding a female reporter, Caroline Wilson, under the water for 50 seconds so that he may donate a large sum of money to the fundraising event.


The public fallout was immediate, the comment was deemed sexist, inappropriate as well as a joke in poor taste. However, rather than Holden (Collingwood’s official sponsor), aborting their position as title sponsor, they took an alternative course of action to maintain their relationship to one of Australia’s biggest football teams.


In the wake of the scandal Holden and Collingwood’s partnership has been “restructured” to drive closer cultural alignment between club and company and ensure championing diversity is just as important as the sport. The restructured contract now consists of more than 50% of Holden’s investment directly funding the Collingwood’s female AFL team and community programs. Holden is now integrated within Collingwood’s diversity programmes, building awareness & ensuring equality continues within the AFL.


The newly demanded restructure of Collingwood’s contract with Holden showcases the importance of responsibility as a public figure and the consequences that follow. A percentage of the Australian public regard Collingwood as fortunate, however Holden have reformed the negative press and attention into a positive programme reimbursing the good nature of its organisation as well as their future ambition.


This case study highlights the importance of partnerships and how mutual benefits should not be so easily terminated, regardless of the situation.

Honda Racing appoints Slingshot Sponsorship to boost commercial revenue

Honda Racing, the only factory team on the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship grid, well known for shaking up the traditional world of racing, has appointed Slingshot Sponsorship to manage its commercial rights into the 2017 season.

Slingshot Sponsorship, an award-winning commercialised marketing agency, will handle all commercial rights and partner opportunities, ahead of the 2017 British Superbike season.

The Louth-based Honda Racing BSB team is progressive in the world of motorsport, signing BSB’s only female competitor, Jenny Tinmouth, who joined the team in 2015. During her two seasons with Honda to date, Jenny has improved on personal bests at every round.

Team-mates Jason O’Halloran and Dan Linfoot, both occupying the all-important BSB top six Showdown spots, with five rounds to go this season, complete the Honda line-up – representing the most successful team in the championship’s history.

“We’re delighted to have Slingshot Sponsorship join the Honda Racing BSB team. The entire agency truly understands our vision for the team going forwards,” said Nick Campolucci, head of motorcycles at Honda UK. “I’m confident that with Slingshot’s support we can take the success of the team to the next level.”

Slingshot Sponsorship enhances its clients’ commercial rights by uncovering new value through development and creation of sponsorship assets – supporting an execution that is mutually beneficial and sustainable.

“Honda Racing is visionary in its field and has expanded the audience outside of the traditional biking community. We’re honoured to be working with Honda,” said Jackie Fast, founder and managing director of Slingshot Sponsorship. “Honda Racing and Slingshot have a shared interest in pioneering ways of shaking up a traditional market so watch this space.”

Commercial opportunities are now available with the team for the 2017 season.


Note to Editors:
About Slingshot Sponsorship
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

About Honda Racing BSB
Honda Racing BSB news releases and images are available to download from

Contact information
For corporate and model-specific comment, please contact:
David Rogers, PR Manager (Motorcycles)
T: 01344 888573 M: 07775 227872 E:

For race reports and team comment, please contact:
Becky Vane
T: 01525 270774 M: 07446 472 440 E:

Sponsorship in CSR – Is it effective or a ruse?

Some of the biggest players in the sponsorship market are either moving away from traditional sporting platforms or are bolstering their CSR policies with social and cultural sponsorship. CSR used to be about managing areas that a brand could twist in their favour to generate positive headlines and is typically solely focused on public image. It could be said that some brands simply invest into platforms as they think it will make them look like they are making a difference.

With the increased focus on the environment, businesses are invested in embedding the sustainable, charitable, cultural and social sponsorship in their CSR policies. This can bolster their offering and help increase customer loyalty, public perception and employee engagement.

The primary objective of sponsorship in this space is generally not to drive revenue for the brand, but this can of course happen. In essence, these CSR policies are used to communicate to the wider audience that the business i.e. Banks, Oil Companies and Hedge Funds are giving back to the community and the wider ecosystem.

A large majority of CSR sponsorship takes place geographically close to the sponsors HQ. The main reason for this is so the brand can be seen to be involved with its local community and help encourage local or smaller not for profit businesses. Brands will also use these sponsorships to encourage employees to partake in wholesome activities to enrich their lives and ultimately, for effective employee engagement.

But can sponsorship within CSR actually make a difference to public image of the brand, benefit the rights holder and, in turn, help the wider community?

A perfect example of how this can backfire is BP’s recent withdrawal from sponsorship of their 27 year relationship with the Tate Gallery.

From the very beginning the partnership was tainted with regular protests and criticism. It was difficult to see how BP were involved with these institutions other than to try to improve public perception of the company. A company that is seen to only care about profits and continually harm the environment.

It was revealed that BP’s financial contribution to the gallery was between £150k-£330k per year, and their main reason for withdrawal was due to tightened budgets. So, it can be forgiven that the public didn’t really see this as a real reason when in 2015 BP’s CEO was awarded a $1.4m cash bonus! In this case, it also reflects negatively on the rights holder. They have the power whether or not they approve a brand as a sponsor and it must be more than just the money.

For a successful sponsorship to happen, not just within CSR, there must be a genuine alignment and a visible proof the brands involvement is benefiting the rights holder. These sponsorships can naturally unlock unique assets from the rights holder such as providing the opportunity to offer money can’t buy experiences to client’s such as late night gallery viewings, interviews with artists or even just a different space to conduct board meetings.

Once a strong proposition has been created and integrated then the sponsor can start to think about generating an ROI. Otherwise it is essentially sponsoring with the hope it can make a difference to the brands public image.

The Strategy Behind Sport

Sports teams are built and developed – crafted over years of training, coaching, and trading.  Ironically the same strategic perspective is not invested off the pitch.  Although sport sponsorship is responsible for over 70% of the total industry, it still lacks the necessary expertise to execute a sustainable and robust rights holder commercial strategy.  With so much sponsor churn, the sport sponsorship industry reflects a transactional method of sales with the highest bidder taking ownership of sponsorship rights that are often not fully utilised, supporting marketing strategies that are often never realised.  Unfortunately, this hasn’t been an issue for most rights holders with sponsorship rights fees on the whole increasing.  Why fix something that isn’t broken?  Why undersell rights when you can oversell them?  And why, if money is all that you are after, not align yourself to a brand that has no relation or even tenuous link to the sport.

The answer is that now you have to.

It’s not only more imperative for sports sponsorship sales teams to start thinking more creatively about how a sponsorship activation will support an overall sponsor’s strategy, it’s also becoming crucial for fan engagement.  If sport supports brand messaging by harnessing people’s passions, then brands who aren’t contributing to the fan experience or advocacy fail to gain the cut-through they once had through logo badging.  Brands have needed to become more creative with how sponsorship is utilised; however, the sports rights still fail to recognise this shift in value.  Sports teams and organisers tend to complain about the lack of activation on behalf of a brand.  However, if the sponsorship rights package is skewed towards how many impressions they will get on broadcast then it’s impossible to deliver an activation that will resonate.

It starts with creating the right assets.

By strategically understanding the value in a sports sponsorship package beyond that of perimeter boards and logos on kits, rights holders will begin to build the foundation for a partnership that truly works for everyone – including the fans.  By offering the same sponsor benefits as everyone else, sports rights holders not only run the risk of relying on team performance to generate ROI for their sponsors, but also fail to differentiate from every other team.  The assumption that the way things have always been will work in today’s fragmented media landscape is naïve.  However, this ever shifting environment can create unique opportunities for rights holders to develop their assets and audience (social media) – making it a new playing field.

From a sport sponsorship sales perspective, the pace of change is extraordinary – and sponsor gains are being made everywhere.  Be a rights holder who recognises the brand requirement to be part of the experience by creating assets that brands can use.  Be relevant by understanding what assets drive your partnership opportunities – rather than where you can put a logo.

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.

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