Evolve With Social Or It Will Pass You By 12th July, 2017

Social is soaring and it doesn’t look set to slow down anytime soon. The majority of online users are moving away from computers in favour of smartphones. Figures released by OFCOM show 66% of the UK own a smartphone, as do 90% of 16-24 year olds. It’s the latter group that makes brand sponsorship on social platforms very profitable to those targeting their content at millennials. Social media sponsored content is fast becoming the best way to reach out and inform a digital generation.

Brands generally prefer the  method of sponsored content as it differs from usual native advertising and its purpose is to inform and not necessarily convince its audience, keeping the brand message much more authentic.

A case study posted on the Instagram website claims that sponsored posts results in 2.8x higher ad recall than other online advertising. The soft nature of the posts and the tailored way in which Instagram integrates the posts are the likely reasons for the higher re-call rate. The company has also moved to close the gap between celebrity endorsements and sponsored posts by placing them under one umbrella. Snapchat has also introduced it’s sponsored filters campaign, where brands can sponsor a filter for a specific amount of time. With 150 million users daily it makes for a very lucrative opportunity.

Facebook has gone a slightly different way and created a unique sponsorship system, which  is now in high demand. The company allows brands to sponsor user activity instead of posts. Partner’s simply pay to highlight an action that users have already taken on the social network or within a Facebook-connected app.

Social platforms have created great ways for brands to capitalise through sponsored content and thus far, audiences have been receptive to this influencing method due to sponsorship’s credibility to not be so intrusive. With social media continuously evolving and creating new opportunities for brands, rights holders must ensure that they are constantly up to date with changes so that they too can offer relevant opportunities for brands. It is not enough anymore to offer Facebook or Twitter posts as part of a sponsorship package. Rights holders need to understand how brands will want to use social platforms to ensure maximum cut through.


Creative in Context of Commercial 3rd July, 2017

It’s that Cannes time of the year.  A time where the focus is on excellent creative – what makes it, how to harness it, and who is doing it best.  I am a huge fan of good creative.  As I’m not particularly creative myself, great concepts executed phenomenally really drives inspiration.  And who doesn’t want to be inspired?

Creative used to drive commercial.  The best creative television ad had the capability to harness the purchase power of millions, dropping credit cards like flies for the latest milk chocolate or iPhone.  However, as more channels are developed, more creators are surfacing and it’s now harder than ever to guarantee that great creative will drive the bottom line.  With exceptional creative, this still exist (and perhaps stands out more than ever), but on the whole – it’s harder to get your ad to stand out.

And so the value of understanding commercial in view of the creative increases.

Commercial in the creative industries can be viewed in two ways:

  1. Creating ads that are more effective
  2. Reducing the spend on ads through other channels

Efficiency

Being more effective can be done in many ways now that brands have the capability to take more risks.  Creative is no longer confined to pre-planned, locked-in billboard and television ads, creative now can be tested in real time with smaller markets producing immediate feedback.  Furthermore, planners can now be more creative on how that spend is made.  Efficiency can also be found through sponsorship.  Purchasing assets that can have multi-purpose uses throughout the business; tickets for hospitality, brand ambassadors for influencer marketing, rights for reach.  The value to broadening the historical isolated view of marketing and sales departments can produce even greater results than exceptional creative alone.

Multi-channel

Ads no longer work like they used to.  And for that matter, the logo in sponsorship drives zero value.  And yet, sponsorship is on the rise.  The reason being is that sponsorship provides multi-channel marketing that is wrapped up to make it financially less risky than ‘putting all your eggs in one basket’.  The cost to repurpose creative across these channels makes it easier to become more effective, whilst also saving money.  Understanding how to leverage a sponsorship proposal’s multi-channel assets is incredible vital to the success of the sponsorship campaign – and yet most don’t even go into detail to what channels they are purchasing and how they can be used until after the deal is done.

By viewing creative in context of commercial at the outset, you can ensure that even so-so creative has the power to drive the bottom line.  And whilst I wouldn’t want to champion average work, it is important to view this in light of the ever growing marketing industry shifting faster than most of us can truly keep up with.

 


The Art of Brand Activation in Sponsorship 4th July, 2017

Creative brand activation is crucial to captivate an audience, and create a memorable brand experience.

Sponsorship has rapidly moved away from being just about a logo, the future lies in the activation, and more specifically customer engagement through activation. Effective sponsorship activation creates a greater connection with the audience through an emotional connection. This notion of creating an emotional connection taps into the audience’s personal journey and becomes a memorable experience, creating a strong loyalty to the brand.

There is an art to cultivating creative ideas to execute an experience that is memorable at an event. Both the sponsors and the rights-holder benefit from fresh and creative ideas in activation. The rise in innovative ideas and creativity bring new levels for association with their passions such as music festivals and sport events. Capturing fans in a positive environment is a perfect opportunity for a sponsor to create a personal connection to a brand.

 Vitaminwater and WayHome Music and Art’s Festival

Vitaminwater’s Hydration Station at WayHome Festival is a fantastic example of how sponsorship activation is executed to great effect. This idea of creating a human car wash was a huge success with fans in the sweltering heat. Festival goers immersed themselves in the cool mist. Fans felt instantly refreshed and hydrated at the station, which links directly to the core values of Vitaminwater. Guests had the opportunity to have their photograph taken at the station with their festival wristband, this was uploaded straight to their email, guests can then upload their experience on to a social media platform, promoting the festival and the sponsors through native and shareable content.

This unique idea added a new enjoyable dimension to the festival. The Hydration Station was hugely popular at the event, it served a purpose, and was a playful fun idea to draw in guests, whilst engaging with the product at the event.

Creating ways in which the audience can get involved by experiencing a product can help create the strong emotional connection to the brand. Great brand activation makes the consumer interact and reinforces the brand in the minds of the consumer by actively engaging with the company.

Fresh innovative ideas drive the commercial world, the same goes for sponsorship activation. The use of creative activation entices consumers in, allowing a connection on a deeper and more personal level, by directly becoming part of their story leaves a lasting positive association with a brand.


Sponsorship Inspires the Next Generation 29th June, 2017

Education is the engine of the future.  As we live in a world that requires skilled people to run our technology, a shortage in this sector of the workforce will slow us down.  According to the Daily Telegraph,  43% of STEM skilled vacancies in the UK are difficult to fill.  Across the world, there is a shortage of workers for this highly technical world.  And as technology continues to advance, the shortage will become more extreme.

Sponsorship should be part of the solution.  Governments are building STEM skill learning into their education strategies but it is expensive and will not solve the problem fast enough.  STEM skills are needed in the workplace now.  Private schools have the money to push STEM education but only 7% of the UK population attends private schools. State schools have not been given enough resources to make big changes in STEM education.  Not only do we need skilled teachers, but teachers need to be inspirational. Children need role models to look up to and follow so we need to provide inspiration beyond the national curriculum. Children of today are digital natives and need to be educated to work to develop their technological world. Sponsorship can provide not only the resources but also the essential spark that is so badly lacking in our schools.

Sponsorship should support STEM education as it has the power to ignite STEM interest in young people.  Yesterday, the Bloodhound Super Sonic Car visited ICS, a school in North London.  It is a technologically complex machine that will attempt to break the land speed record and hit 1000mph in a South African desert next year.  A new partnership has been created between Bloodhound SSC and Saudi Aramco to support the Bloodhound SSC traveling to schools across the UK.  The charismatic team headed by Mike Ford used interactive projects to explain the complex technology to the roomful of excited children who sat in rapt attention before queuing up to sit in the simulator.  The children heard the story and watched footage of the brave Wing Commander Andy Green and then worked on technical problem-solving projects that the Bloodhound SSC had needed to work out to develop.  Partnerships can offer interesting engagement that conventional education cannot always achieve and prove that STEM is both exciting and relevant.

Sponsorship involves many people working towards a common goal.  Though the Bloodhound SSC continues to develop new technologies and push boundaries, it now has the added mission to promote the uptake of STEM subject by schoolchildren and inspire passion for the disciplines that make such a project possible.  Saudi Aramco is a leader in innovation and has cutting-edge technologies in the field of energy. It has a developed programme in Saudi Arabia to promote the study of STEM subjects by young students and educate teachers to address its problem of the shortage of skilled workers.  Governments across the world acknowledge the need for more STEM students.  In a technological world with such a need for skilled workers, all interests will be aligned to support the partnership.

Sponsorship is a story that can engage for a lifetime.  The story of the Bloodhound Super Sonic Car began more than 25 years ago and over the years has evolved into its current configuration with the original driver Richard Noble as the Project Director.  People around the world have been following the story of the Bloodhound SSC since the 1980’s and look forward to each new exciting development.  Saudi Aramco’s support will be entwined with the story of the Bloodhound SSC as it attempts the record and furthers technological advances.  Children who are introduced to the Bloodhound SSC will never forget the day the modular car visited their school and will follow and support the project in the news, on the website and on social media.  The memory will last a lifetime of engagement.

The partnership of Saudi Aramco and Bloodhound SSC is providing a solution to the problem of STEM skill shortage by inspiring the next generation to pursue STEM careers.



Are You Maximising Your Online Platform? Step Back Before You Hit a Wall 29th June, 2017

If you are an online platform with a large audience, you may well have several brands lined up at your door wanting a piece of the pie. Of course, this is an ideal situation and the mentality of most business people will be ‘cash in whilst you can’ and push the accelerator button, however this is the perfect moment to step back and carefully consider your commercial plan for the future success of your business.

With a large audience at your disposal, you’re already the envy of most of the internet and you’ve likely spent a great deal of time, effort and money to get to this stage. Therefore, now is not the time to succumb to the temptation of the quick win, it’s time to build the foundations for growth.

There is an abundance of ways to monetize your online audience, with affiliate marketing, sponsored blogs, the selling ad space and pay per click being some of the most common. Generally, the majority of these deals are short term, which is great for cash flow, but may not be so great for your loyal audience, and after spending all the effort to build your following to this point, any brand you allow to integrate should be only involved with the aim to grow that following.

To do that, the key at this point is to understand the value of your assets and create a strategic plan to achieve maximum revenues. By creating relevant business partnerships, which engulf a multitude of the assets you possess will help you reach higher revenues and drive your online platform forward. If there is not an inhouse employee skilled in this department, it is in your best interests to seek guidance.

By having a specialist involved to assess the platform you will be able to take that step back before hit a wall and leap over it instead. Once your commercial value is realised, developed and packaged it’s only a matter of time until you are able to attract long-term brand partners that will bring considerable revenue and also add to the online experience, thus growing your audience and opportunities even further.



The Extreme Tech Challenge Series Presents: Zoom – Main Communications Partner 1st June, 2017

Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC) is proud to announce the return of Zoom Video Communications, Inc. to the 2018 XTC Sponsorship Series.  Zoom is the leader in modern enterprise video communications, with a secure, easy platform for video and audio conferencing, messaging, and webinars across mobile, desktop, and room systems. Zoom Rooms is their original software-based conference room solution used around the world in conference, huddle, and training rooms, as well as executive offices and classrooms. Zoom is proud to be the official sponsor and judge of the Productivity Vertical for XTC 2018.

XTC 2018 marks the fourth year of this exciting and innovating competition that brings together the world’s brightest entrepreneurial minds to compete for the chance to pitch their budding business ventures to an all-star panel of judges on Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island. Zoom will be returning for it’s second year as an invaluable member to the team of global sponsors who will be on hand to guide and support this year’s applicants as they compete in the Tech Challenge of their lives.

“Zoom is proud to be a second-time partner of XTC. We had a great experience sponsoring the Productivity vertical last year, and we’re excited to support this group of world-changing entrepreneurs again. Zoom helps teams be more productive with high quality video meetings and powerful collaboration tools, and it’s a pleasure to support other productivity innovations by promising startups.”
– Eric S. Yuan, Founder & CEO, Zoom Video Communications

As part of their sponsorship, Zoom will offer free accounts to lauded competitors in the contest, with Head of Marketing Janine Pelosi representing Zoom as an XTC 2018 judge for the Productivity Vertical. First place in the Productivity category will receive five free Zoom Pro accounts for one year, while second through fifth place will each earn one free Zoom Pro account for one year. Additionally, the overall Top 10 Semi-Finalists moving onto CES this January 2018 will each get one free Zoom Pro account for one year.

The Final Champion of XTC 2017 will be awarded with the most sought after prize from Zoom—ten free Business accounts for one year. Over 600,000 companies trust Zoom and 94% of their IT organizations recommend Zoom to colleagues, a testament to the high caliber of Zoom’s sponsorship of XTC 2018.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available – contact Slingshot Sponsorship should you wish to discuss the potential of inclusion.


Equality & Why It Matters 30th May, 2017

The issue around equality and diversity seems to be heating up.  Whilst I normally steer clear of these discussions, having recently attended a presentation at Canada House on diversity with the Ottawa Minister and later speaking on the ‘The Role of Business in Driving Towards Equality’ panel recently at the Salesforce World Tour – it’s clearly a topic that is on everyone’s minds (I’d encourage you to watch the Role of Business in Driving Towards Equality video here).

My life has been filled with diversity.  As a child I was one of the few people I knew who was mixed race (Canadian and Chinese).  In adulthood I moved to London without knowing a single soul and found it difficult to relate with experiences very dissimilar to my peer group.  Now working in a male-dominated industry, I’m struck being painted again as the odd one out.

Ironically, there is nowhere else I’d rather be.  Being the odd one out has enabled me to bring a different perspective to whatever I do.  Professionally my young age and the fact that I am a female has been more of an asset to the agency’s strength then to its detriment, which is why I wholly believe in diversity for business.  I believe that diversity creates opportunity – because I have experienced it first-hand.

There are a lot of variables at play with this argument and it will likely be debated for eternity; however, I feel that action says more than stats.  Only by being actively committed to being diverse within the workplace will you begin to realise the value it can drive to your bottom line.


Closing the Gap 25th May, 2017

Women’s sports accounts for 5.4% of the value of all sponsorship deals and just 0.4%  in the UK.

This percentage is mirrored in the number of women CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies: 5.4%, and though not one is a sports company, women are rising through the corporate ranks to become decision-makers.  The underlying cultural attitudes around women and women’s sports are slowly changing and organisations such as Women in Sport and This Girl Can are just two examples of movements working to change perceptions.

Effective communication is the key for athletes to promote themselves and their sport and to increase their share of the sponsorship pie.  By becoming part of the conversation in social media and thus becoming more relevant, potential sponsors can see the value of the athlete to their brand and the business plan becomes clear. Ultimately, they need to know they will get a return on their money as well as activation avenues.  Sponsoring female athletes creates a potential new audience and revenue stream as women today have huge buying power.

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has been able to translate the popularity of the sport into large sponsorship and media deals. Last year, it signed a 10-year, $525 million media rights deal with PERFORM, the largest media rights and production deal in the history of women’s sports. Tennis is leading the way for gender equality with equal prize money for the four Grand Slams. Only a few female stars outside of Tennis such as Mia Hamm & Ronda Rousey attract the huge deals that the men so easily do.

Creating sponsorship for female athletes is no different to men: athletes need to be ambassadors for the brand and communicate well the brand’s culture. By using female athletes, brands could not only access a wider audience but also create opportunities to activate in new and creative ways.  Sponsors who integrate into women centric platforms showcase their support for gender equality and diversity.


Mastering The Quick Sales Pitch 24th May, 2017

Cold calling is not a dying art. It is however, a tough skill to master but it is integral to the sponsorship sales process.
One of the largest sponsorship deals in the UK started from a phone call. The Millennium Dome, London’s well-known landmark, cold-called O2 out of the blue to pitch them the idea to sponsor the dome. It was clearly a good pitch as it is now known as The O2 Arena.
Sponsorship sales experts who are armed with a well-valued platform, a professional and concise sponsorship proposal and their knowledge of sponsorship, will still need to reach the decision makers on the phone and interest them quickly. The best way to do this is to get hold of them on the phone for an initial sales pitch and wet their appetite.

Here are 4 key things to ensure you get the key aim from a cold call – the face to face meeting:

1. Me, me, me
The most obvious mistake that sponsorship sales people make is being too focused on ‘me’. They explain too much about the platform, how amazing their event is and how there is nothing else like it in the market. The best approach is to give the quickest, concise elevator pitch possible and then make the entire conversation about the brand. How can you achieve their objectives? How the platform solves their business problem? Why should they give you money compared to all other sponsorship platforms out there?

2. Ask the questions
There are sales people who neglect one of the most important elements to any form of sponsorship pitch, they don’t ask enough questions. The ideal initial call will be short, only a few minutes long, but the sponsorship sales person talks far less than the brand. In this short time frame, it is important to understand as much about the brand as possible and their objectives. A smart sponsorship expert can then turn any objections into positives, pulling across their various assets which can solve real business problems. The more the brand talks, the better the call.

3. Personalise each call
It is vital to ensure you aren’t going out with a blanket proposition to potential sponsors. If you get the decision maker on the phone, and simply pitch ‘brand awareness’ or ‘hospitality opportunities’ this will get you nowhere. Prior research on each brand will allow you to naturally tailor the conversation in your favour. Speak about their current clients, key markets, target audiences, how you will provide unique content creation and product integration. This will give you more credibility as it shows you’ve spent the time to understand why your platform is beneficial to that brand as a business.

4. Set a clear objective
Going into a sponsorship sales call with the objective to send across a proposal and potentially speak in the future is not productive. If you have the decision maker on the phone and they are engaged in what you are saying, the key objective is to get face to face with them. Here, you can develop a relationship, create rapport, influence their decision and spend more time to understand how you can solve their objectives.

With all of these tips put together, you will have a short sponsorship sales pitch that gives you the best chance of securing the crucial face to face pitch.


Keeping up momentum in sponsorship sales is like watching the London Marathon on your sofa 5th May, 2017

If like me, you spent Sunday morning and much of the afternoon sat on the sofa with leftover pizza and a chocolate bar saying to yourself (for the fourth year in a row), “this is going to be the year I do the London Marathon” then you know exactly how influential ‘being in the moment’ is for making decisions.  If I don’t register for the London Marathon within 4 weeks of watching, it’s unlikely that I ever will consider registering for the rest of the year – until that annual ritual of watching it sat on the sofa again next year.
Unbelievably, this is no different to sponsorship sales, especially sponsorship of annual events.  As a sponsor, sponsoring annual events is a bit like the London Marathon – you get excited about confirming your sponsorship/registration, but then months go by and it seems all but forgotten until the actual day.  However, upon passing the finish line after a number of hours of slog throughout Greater London, you remember why you signed up in the first place and quite likely think it was the best decision you ever made.
Understanding and keeping up momentum is absolutely critical within sponsorship sales.  Like the London Marathon, there is a limited time-frame from which a sponsor remembers all the great times, the finite details that may exist beyond the assets list.  Memories of the sponsorship are always viewed with a ‘glass half full’ and sponsors are more likely to de-brief with you, grab drinks with you and generally more likely to want to discuss plans for the following year.  However, go past 4 weeks and memories fade fast – leaving only hard numbers.  I should clarify that hard numbers are not necessarily a bad thing as sponsorship is only as good as the measurement and ROI behind it, but when combined with the very distinct memory of how great it was, it’s incomparable.

One of my biggest sponsorship sales tricks is ensuring that we keep up momentum as well as truly understanding the time-frame for commitment from a buyer’s point of view.My top three ‘keeping up momentum’ sponsorship sales tips include:

  1. Renew all sponsors within 4 weeks of the event.  If you are unable to do this in this time-frame, you run the risk of starting all over again in terms of the sales process you need to go through.
  2. Include renewal clauses within the contract at the outset.  First right of refusal is a benefit and as such should be used as an asset.  Not only does this help within the sales process it also provides a clear and communicated deadline to your sponsor well in advance.
  3. Don’t just sign a sponsor and never speak to them again until just before the event (or worse yet, when you need something).  If your sponsor signs well in advance providing a very long lead time, create reasons to catch up and talk about the event in the run up.  If you have a large number of sponsors, creating bespoke sponsor communications to update them on the event progress is a great benefit and keeps everyone in the loop.

In the meantime, I shall keep you posted on my London Marathon musings.  Maybe 2018 is the year I finally get off the sofa…


The Value Is In The Detail 25th April, 2017

A frequent question asked by individuals with a new idea for a project is ‘what could my property be worth?’, which on face value you would assume is a perfectly valid question to ask a sponsorship agency, however, if the question is asked without the exact knowledge of what is being offered to a brand, it is impossible to answer accurately.

For a sponsorship agency to be able to value a platform correctly, the sponsorship assets need to have been considered and packages created detailing the frequency an asset can be used. This is then measured against the reach and using certain methodology the value of each asset can be calculated to provide an overall price.

Those with a new venture tend to have a good grasp on the fundamentals of their projects such as locations and dates but the specifics of what will be offered within their sponsorship package are generally not nailed down – and the specifics are everything when it comes to the value.

For example, claiming that an event will be shown on TV is not enough to be able to value an opportunity and likewise, probably won’t be enough for a brand to sponsor. Brands will need to know not just what channel, but more importantly, how often they can be featured – that is where the value lies. The same goes for any media partner whether it be TV, radio, magazines, blogs etc. it is imperative that such agreements have been finalised before approaching sponsors.

With the knowledge that sponsorship deals can take many months to get across the line sometimes tempts rights holders to go out to market before they have the complete sponsorship toolkit confirmed, which often leads to the rights holder coming unstuck in the boardroom as the brand cannot justify the value of the deal, thus further delaying or even ending the hope of any potential agreement.

Therefore, to understand the sponsorship revenue potential rights holders need to turn their ideas into serious realities by confirming the specifics of their offerings, and they may well be pleasantly surprised with the value at their fingertips.


Why More Brands Should Sponsor Grassroots Sport 24th April, 2017

Grassroots initiatives and participation in sport has grown hugely over the past two decades, yet the majority of marketers still see it as a naff “if we still have budget” thing. They think it lacks the sexiness or media value delivered by huge global events but a number of projects over the last few years have proved otherwise.

Take Barclays for instance, one of the biggest employers in the UK with over 1,600 branches in the UK. Back in 2004 they committed to investing £30million in a community initiative to create sustainable sports facilities across the UK – the single largest injection of cash into grassroots sport by a company in the UK.

Over the following decade Barclays invested many more millions in creating twenty-six flagship sites in partnership with professional football clubs alongside a number of local sites offering a range of sports including basketball, netball and tennis through to skateboard and BMX tracks. This generous investment has been a huge success and contributed to the health and well-being of individuals across all ages in the local areas where Barclays invested.

More interestingly though, is the abundance of positive press Barclays have received as they have become known over the years as the biggest corporate investor in grassroots sports. In terms of the Barclays brand and image, they are now seen as an ethical brand and part of the community in such a way that that is unachievable with regular sponsorship which is key to creating the pursued “trust and loyalty” of customers.

It may seem cynical, but this is a way to get to the hearts of people that common advertising and sponsorship does not allow so it is surprising to see the lack of brands involved in grassroots sponsorship. That said, it absolutely has to be conducted in the right manner and be a genuine investment in the community otherwise the many benefits of grassroots sponsorship risk being overlooked as an awkward branding exercise.

 



Why it’s important (not necessary) to be brutally honest in sponsorship  31st March, 2017

I love the sponsorship industry and all the people that work in it.  However, I have always found that unlike the marketing or television industries, everyone in sponsorship seems to walk on eggshells with confrontation or disagreements.  In my limited experience (Slingshot is only 7 years old), very few in the sponsorship industry speak what’s on their mind.  Conversely they tend to say what most people want to hear.  Whilst being diplomatic has never been my strong suit, I also feel that frantically nodding in agreement actually erodes an existing problem within the sponsorship industry for a number of reasons:

 
1.    Growth: everyone seems to continually pat each other on the back with the quality of work produced.  Ironically, the same people will also tell you that a lot of the work produced in sponsorship is actually not that inspirational.  Certainly much of the industry does not seem interested in raising the bar for itself, and therefore gripes when other industries start taking a piece of “their pie”.  However, if PR, digital, social, VR and other agencies are better equipped to articulate and cultivate partnerships because they understand the potential of the medium, and traditional sponsorship agencies stick with what they know with broadcast consumption, then the industry continues to create a rod for its own back.

 
2.    Stand for something: I was recently commented in the Financial Times regarding the decline in sponsors with this year’s popular Chelsea Flower Show (read article here).  Having both consulted for clients who secured sponsorship for their own garden as well as shopping sponsorship opportunities against Chelsea Flower Show sponsors, I am pretty familiar with the opportunity (full disclosure, I have never worked with the Chelsea Flower Show directly). From a business point of view, it is not wise to disparage what might in the future be a great client; however, I do fundamentally believe that the value proposition is not in line with the assets they currently deliver.  This is not to say that the Chelsea Flower Show is not a good sponsorship opportunity, but I believe the current way it is pitched it is overpriced, and unsubstantiated.  While saying this in a newspaper may mean Slingshot Sponsorship will never work with the Chelsea Flower Show, it’s important to have a true reflection on why it’s happening rather than assuming an economic blip.  Assuming an economic blip means that every other rights holder who has struggled this year will attest their lack of funds through the general economy, rather than reflect on a changing marketplace and whether they are driving real value to brands.  If you drive value, can articulate and measure it – securing sponsors is no harder today than it was yesterday.

 
3.    False hope: sponsorship is driven by passion projects.  It is very hard to tell someone who is passionate and truly believes in a project that their idea isn’t going to work, or at the very least, isn’t going to work the way they expect it to.  Especially when saying it will work comes with a pay cheque.  No one wants to crush anyone’s dreams, however without being truthful, you are actually providing a disservice to the passionate person who then continues to chase their tail and ends up nowhere.  My route has always been to pull the bandage off quickly.  It’s terrible, but at least they can start investing time and resource into a project that they can be both passionate about and make money from.

 
So speak up, be heard, and try to implement change into an industry that could be so much greater than the sum of its parts.  And isn’t that what sponsorship is all about anyways?


The Extreme Tech Challenge 2018 launches with style in Oslo 30th March, 2017

After a hugely successful XTC 2017 competition, which included some amazing sponsors, XTC 2018 has officially launched with a bang in Oslo.

The world’s largest technology start up competition, backed by Sir Richard Branson, hosted an intimate launch at SALT, Oslo with multiple budding start-ups, accelerators, athletes and the XTC team. Not only will this year be bigger and better than ever, there is also a new look website, new brand and, of course, new start-ups ensuring the best of the best can achieve greatness with their game changing ideas.

After a grand opening from XTC’s CEO Bill Tai, we were treated to some insight in to the success behind some of the world’s greatest technology companies, a look in to the future and how to keep ahead of the game. Here is what I learned from the best:

The 3 P’s of successful start-ups

Paul Herz (Apple and Facebook) gave the start-ups in the room invaluable tips on ensuring scalability and success. The three key areas are platform, partners and processes. Apple for example has iTunes as its main platform which is simple, easy to use and designed for the consumer. They have over 70 partners that produce different parts of their products better and cheaper than they could, which ensures the product quality and profit margins remain high. Finally, Apple’s processes are simple, streamlined and set to ensure everything is delivered on time. All start-ups should emulate this simplicity, over complicating everything and getting expensive partners on board wont attract VC’s or investors and will erode the profit margins.

Arnold Schwarzenegger might have got it right

Isabelle Ringnes, tech-evangelist, took us all through the exciting, and slightly daunting future of tech. It was incredibly interesting to hear about the realistic possibilities to connect our brains directly with devices and robots that have been designed to emulate feelings and facial expressions. Now, I’m not against robots or AI for that matter, but as long as there are restrictions in place to stop Arnie popping back and the Terminator films coming true!

Sport and start-ups are one and the same

To top it all off, legendary Olympic Nordic Skiier (and tech enthusiast) Axel Lund Svindal explained the need to overcome adversity, not just in sport, but in the similar competitive landscape of the start-up world. There are many attributes that cross-over between sport and start-ups; determination to succeed, competitiveness, hard-work and professionalism to name a few. Axel talked us through his incredible career and the mind-set in takes to be the best, some amazing advice for budding global disruptors.

In fine XTC form, it was all finished with a party integrating round table tech discussion. With XTC applications for 2018 now open, it is the perfect time for sponsors to integrate in to this exciting and growing industry with the next global organisations. Get in touch to find out more – kieran@slingshotsponsorship.com or 020 7226 5052.


How to Hire the Wrong Sponsorship Sales Agency/Consultant/Employee 24th March, 2017

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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


My Year as a Placement Student at Slingshot 23rd March, 2017

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Key Thing I’ve learnt:

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

 

The Top 3 Favourite Things about My Job:

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

 

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

 

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

 

What I Thought Before Work And Now:

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

 

What I’ll miss the most:

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

 

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


Be The ‘Right’ Holder 21st March, 2017

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


Teamwork Won’t Make The Dream Work 1st March, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Art of Sales 6th March, 2017

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


Think Sponsorship from the Start 24th February, 2017

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

 

  1. Engage Sponsors through the whole process

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

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

 

  1. Don’t approach just any brand

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

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

 

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

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

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


5 Things I Learned On Necker Island 22nd February, 2017

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


Standing Out from the Crowd 7th February, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The formula for a killer proposal 1st February, 2017

An illuming proposal gets the client instantly engaged. It is a direct reflection on the company. A proposal speaks louder than the initial conversation with a client, if the proposal looks amateur, it completely kills the vibe. The proposal is just as, if not more, important than the first call to a potential sponsor.

In the sales process, once you’ve had a great conversation, inevitably the prospect will ask for a proposal. This will be shared internally, with decision makers, CEO’s, Managing Directors and without your input. So, imagine if it’s rushed, unclear or amateur, it will kill all opportunities, even if you had a great conversation initially.

There are two key areas of a great proposal that should work harmoniously together; Content and Design

Content

The content should be clear and to the point and seen as a solution for a brand, it is very important to do the research into a brand before you start the content. Tailoring to individual brands help personalise the proposal and will resonate well with them.

 1 Be concise

Be clear and straight to the point, keep the text to a minimum to make it easier to have quick impact.

2 Focus on the Sponsor

The focus should always be with the brand, and how it can impact them. Do your research, consider their objectives and programmes and outlines these.

3 Tailor

Tailor the proposal to each individual brand to show how sponsorship can maximize potential and increase value to their business. This is the most important element, show how to achieve their business objectives.

Design

The visual elements create the overall impression to the sponsor, and are just as important as the content itself. The design of the proposal needs to be strong and stimulating, what we see influences the way we perceive information. The content should be complemented by the design.

The two key elements for professional design is to be easy to read and highlight key information. There are four design tools to use when designing a proposal, these can be learned even if you don’t regard yourself as a designer:

 1 The use of Infographics

Visual representations such as Infographics allow data to be easily and quickly presented. Think of social media reach, demographics, media exposure figures, these are all perfect for infographics.

 2 Contrast

Using contrasting colours or shapes creates more impact. Use bold images to complement the text.

3 Repetition 

By repeating colours and shapes, you create consistency throughout. Utilise brand guidelines if you have these, if not, get creative!

4 Alignment

Making sure text and images are aligned creating an easy flow

5 Proximity

This is making sure text and images are well spaced on a layout. Use hierarchy to highlight more important information.

A proposal showcases a solution, by combining concise text that centres around the brand with stimulating imagery, you create a killer proposal. This could be the difference of securing the sponsor and not.


The Hunter Becoming The Hunted. 26th January, 2017

Rights holders have always been perceived as the hunter; approaching brands for sponsorship in order to boost their commercial revenue streams. However, as a rights holder continues to develop and provide brands with clear ROI’s and opportunities to achieve their corporate objectives, perhaps the hunter may well become the hunted.

Sponsorship, when executed correctly, is fast becoming the most effective form of marketing, allowing brands to engage and truly connect with their desired audience – resulting in a host of positive outcomes for the short and long term for the brand.

Generally, the most crucial consideration for a brand when deciding whether or not to sponsor a platform is ROI, therefore a rights holders needs to prove that they can generate ROI for that brand or they have next to no chance of doing the deal.

In order to be successful in securing brand partners, rights holders have to understand that one size can’t fit all. Rights holders need to align their assets appropriately in light of what brands are trying to achieve and what their ambitions are. For example, a brand with the objective to increase positive brand association across a mass audience will require many different assets to that of a brand wanting to create specific B2B opportunities.  To create customer relations; rights holders need to offer assets that enable brands to engage with their audience, allowing them to create sustainable relationships and opportunities to positively re-brand their image utilising your properties social media channels and key influencers.

Sponsorship is valuable because it provides brands with the potential to benefit all departments of their business. Opportunities include on-site marketing activations to generate sales, community engagement, engaging employees and much more. This puts rights holders in a prime position, possessing unrivalled opportunities for brands are looking to get their hands on as a cost effective alternative to standard forms of marketing.

We are progressing to a stage where brands are beginning to realise the true value of sponsorship when executed effectively and as rights holders begin the master their propositions we may soon see a time where brands start pitching to rights holders. However, for this pendulum to swing, rights holders must continue to invest in developing their propositions in the ever evolving world we live in.


My Sponsorship Predictions 2017.  23rd January, 2017

I predict a big year for sponsorship.  It’s been steadily gaining a bigger seat at the big boy table, but this year I anticipate it will accelerate at great speed.  We have seen big brands slowly start to pull away from badging and into more integrated experiential campaigns – lead by partnerships, whether in a traditional rights holder/sponsor sense or through multi-agency collaboration.  The value of Big Data is finally being understood by the ‘every brand’ and implementation of data is finally getting into Star Wars territory (A.I. and more).  As a bit of a geek myself, I am truly excited for 2017.

But at the heart of sponsorship and at the heart of sales for any business is the audience – which is why I predict 2017 to be big for our industry like never before.

Here are the trends I think we’ll see:
1.    Young blood, new ideas: Sponsorship as an industry has grown and more university students are realising that if they can’t be the next David Beckham, then they could perhaps work in football through sponsorship.  We’ve seen a significant increase in university students applying for internships and placements in the last year.  Once these kids are out and start working, I think we’ll see a shift in process with some of the more traditional sponsorship agencies – and the creative that comes out of them.

2.    Consolidation makes way for the little guy: A number of long-established sponsorship agencies got bought, sold and acquired last year (Brand Rapport, Brand Meets Brand, Generate Sponsorship) and I predict we’ll see a number of new start-ups in the sponsorship space launching in the next 6 months.

3.    Consolidation lends to campaigns rather than ad hoc projects: With a number of long-established sponsorship agencies merging/selling into larger agencies with additional disciplines, the aim will be to create a more integrated approach for their clients.  This type of business is more beneficial to clients through a long-term approach so I predict the desire of these agencies to focus on campaigns and retainers.  This may create opportunities for other agencies to scoop up the ad hoc projects throughout the year.

4.    Big brands taking on transformational sponsorship: Transformational sponsorship is sponsorship that shifts an entire business practice.  Rather than being stuck moving the needle in the marketing department, Boards are starting to realise that integrating sponsorship can impact the entire organisation.  We have had more requests from brands last year to help them integrate transformational sponsorship (or sponsorship without logos) than we have had in our 6-year history.  This trend is sure to continue.

5.    The ‘British Brand’ of sponsorship agency makes bigger waves overseas: Slingshot now has more than 35% of our retained clients headquartered overseas, with 60% of our clients international and the remaining national in the UK.  This is a radical change from a couple of years ago when we only worked with local clients on local programmes with maybe a handful of smaller international projects.  As technology makes the world smaller, there is greater opportunity to expand and grow market share elsewhere.  I believe this trend will continue with both an influx of international agencies working in the UK and UK agencies getting brought in for more international pitches.

However you look at it, I think 2017 will be a very exciting year – best of luck!

*I was 4/5 on last year’s predictions, to see last year’s predictions click here.


The Do’s and Don’ts of Valuing Your Sponsorship Platform 19th January, 2017

 

Rights holders often value their sponsorship packages based on how much funding they need to run their respective property. The reason brands sponsor properties is because the ROI exceeds that of a traditional media buy, therefore the value of a sponsorship package needs to tangibly relate to this and prove it’s a better option so here are a few do’s and don’ts of valuing a sponsorship platform.

 

DO benchmark against competitors, find out how much similar properties are charging for sponsorship to understand if you’re on the right lines – think about what you can offer sponsors that they can’t.

DON’T benchmark against properties that are in a different league, there is a tendency to compare a property to the biggest and best rights holder in the given field. This will not work, unless you actually are in their league.

 

DO measure how much reach and coverage a brand will receive as a sponsor then compare this to the fee a brand would ordinarily have to spend to reach this number of people – this can be worked out by finding the average CPM (Cost Per Thousand) for the given platform.

DON’T forget to measure the sponsor impact on each asset. For example, a brand’s logo may be included on the press board at a launch event, however if it is one of 10 other logos the sponsor impact is 10% so the cost needs to reflect this – total cost of asset is £100 so valuation would be £10 for each sponsor.

 

DO tiered sponsorship packages – as long as the assets are able to be split out. Not every brand will have the budget or resources for the entire sponsorship fee so have lower packages available.

DON’T allow brands to pick and choose exactly what they want, this will create a lot of work and a sponsorship package is not a supermarket.

 

DO gear the final sponsorship fee to reflect how many competitors are in your field, if you have a lot of competitors pricing needs to be competitive.

DON’T charge a sponsor the total value as you price it out. A sponsorship package represents value to a brand vs. buying advertising so if your valuation is £1million (media cost) your sponsorship fee needs to be less than this.

 

Following these do’s and don’ts will not make sponsors begin writing you cheques for millions, but it will get you on your way to valuing your sponsorship correctly and understanding what you can offer a sponsor. If you need any further help with this or have any questions feel free to get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help.

 

M: +44 (0)79 2182 3069

T:   +44 (0)20 7226 5052

Twitter: @Slingshot_UK

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Recognise the Value of Social Influencers for your Brand 18th January, 2017

Influencer endorsement is not a new concept, it has however taken on a completely new meaning since the emergence of social media.

A celebrity’s influence has become larger and far more valuable with the ability to personalise their endorsement of a brand. Through ‘organically’ integrating products into a social media post, followers become more susceptible to influence, and are more inclined to listen when it is in a celebrity’s own words.

Currently the most liked image on Instagram is a Coca Cola sponsored post from Selena Gomez, with 6.2 million likes and counting. When an influencer seems to genuinely like and use a product on social media it is arguably far more effective to a consumer than traditional advertising, even when that celebrity is featured. What Selena Gomez proves is that when ads are incorporated well, fans respond positively to the brand.

It is this fact that brands have come to recognise and is why paid social media posts are fast becoming celebrities most lucrative asset.

Sponsored content however, is not just for celebrities. Any ordinary social media user with enough followers can utilise their influence to make money from sponsored content.

Users with as few as 100K followers can make significant money from sponsored content, proving fame is not everything when developing a successful social media brand.

Many have found the secret to success is finding your niche and remaining consistent. Repetition is key to successful accounts. Followers respond when they know what to expect from an account and when you stray away from your niche, you lose followers.

Therefore, smaller accounts remain successful for brands to advertise through, as they value follower engagement over sheer number of followers. An account with 100 followers where all followers engage with posts can be worth more to an advertiser than one with 1000 followers where no-one engages.

You can’t make an impact with people who aren’t paying attention. Brands that recognise influential individuals and utilise their reach and personality well will see the results.


China, The Sleeping Giant 12th January, 2017

China, a country already with the world’s second largest economy, made a bold statement in 2015. President Xi Jinping announced a goal to create a domestic sports economy worth $850 billion by 2025, a plan that also involves winning the football World Cup by 2050.

This has commenced rapidly, with Chinese Super League clubs paying stars like Oscar and Carlos Tevez at a premium, £60 million and £71.6 million respectively. The effect is simple – bigger names bring more spectators, more commercial interest and greater global reach. As teams gain more exposure around the world due to the leagues increased profile, they become an even more attractive property to brands. This heightened market activity has a knock-on effect to sponsorship fees throughout the rest of the world, as these large rights holders are able to command higher fees, smaller clubs can ride the coat-tails and leverage more expensive properties to their own benefit.

Outside of their home league, Chinese brands have become progressively active as sporting event sponsors and investors, lured by the potential profits of associating their brands with a sport, team or athlete to access a new market. Chinese brands are shown in each of the major European leagues – AIA at Tottenham, 138.com at Watford and Rastar Group gracing the jersey of RCD Espanyol, to name a few.

The biggest example is Hisense, who became the first ever Chinese sponsor of the Euros when aligning with the 2016 competition. Although the official sponsorship fee has not been disclosed, Hisense is said to have invested a sum of 370 million yuan (roughly £43 million).

It is not just football that China is attracted to, but also rugby and basketball. The levels of investment being seen will lead to an effect that can be likened to sponsorship inflation, as activity from within China develops rights holders into even larger properties. Global sports sponsorship investment levels have continuously grown year on year by 4-5% since the late 2000’s and with the sports industry estimated to be worth $73.5 billion by 2019, not surprisingly the bulk of that money will come from China.

Contrastingly, Western brands now have a way to penetrate the largely untapped Chinese market. With significant increases in awareness and media value, gaining a foothold in China would be a lot of brands’ number one goal, however there hasn’t been a platform big enough to promote themselves effectively, until now. The huge audience means Western brands now have a solid foundation to build exposure and revenue in this massive economy, just like the Chinese brands are doing in European sporting markets.

The next few years are going to be a very interesting period for sports sponsorship in China. An already global sport like football is becoming accessible to far more people, allowing rights holders to generate more money for their assets. While some may say that the money in sports is already at a ridiculous level without China’s new-found interest, it is another way of increasing globalisation by providing a platform for China to integrate with the West and vice versa.


There’s No ‘I’ In Team 10th January, 2017

Athlete endorsements are not a new concept. Brands have been using household names to increase the sales of their products for hundreds of years. It adds credibility, differentiates from competitors and becomes synonymous with the athlete.

In recent years, athletes and personalities are generating enormous revenue from sponsorships that surpass their earnings from their respective professions. Sport, is of course, the stand out example here, but movie stars are not far away. In 2016, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is estimated to have earned more than $51 million from various endorsements. In sport, there is no bigger example than Cristiano Ronaldo who generated more than $250 million throughout 2016 from numerous deals, including; a lifetime deal with Nike and a host of other deals with brands such as Herbalife, Toyota, Armani, Tag Heuer, Castrol and Monster Headphones.

Celebrities are not just competing against each other for sponsors, they are competing against teams, in some circumstances, their own team. In 2016, Real Madrid amassed over $265 million in sponsorship revenue which is not a small amount. Compared to their star man, it is only $15m more.

The attractiveness of an individual is their engaged fans, who idolise them, some of which would purchase anything that their idol endorses. Teams, of course, have these fans but they are potentially less engaged. With stars becoming bigger than the teams they are in, teams need to become more creative with their assets and increase their offering to a potential sponsor.

What a team does have that an individual cannot offer are larger media platforms, which include branding within stadium for matches, stadium naming rights, and kit sponsorship. This provides a tangible link to the team and is where the majority of value stems from in sponsorship. However, with the increase in recent years of Social Media, athletes are catching up with the teams and in some circumstances surpassing them. Real Madrid’s Twitter followers are 6.7 million, Cristiano Ronaldo’s is 49.3 million!

The team does however, have access to not just one athlete, but an entire team of athletes. It is standard in most contracts for players to commit to sponsor activations such as player appearances, image rights to use in sponsor campaigns and even the use of their social media. This eclipses the offering one player can offer a sponsor. Team sponsorship will offer larger awareness. In addition, teams can also offer direct fan engagement, not just through media channels. Utilising stadium assets such as activation areas and hospitality for B2B engagement.

Barcelona’s partnership with tyre manufacturer Lassa is a perfect example. Through its sponsorship of Barcelona, Lassa leveraged player access and created an entire advertising campaign featuring Arda Turan, Gerard Pique, Neymar and Luis Suarez. Through this they now have multiple athlete endorsers, not just one.

Although the teams have a greater pool of assets to offer a sponsor, it is crucial they offer creative and ROI driven activations for a sponsor. If not, these individuals could even start poaching sponsors from under their nose.


Virtual Reality in the Boardroom 4th January, 2017

Much has been said about how Virtual Reality (VR) is changing the game for brands, enabling marketers to truly let consumers inside their brand story. The technology is in high demand across all industries, with many sport-related case studies recently, allowing for first hand experiences, providing new and exciting ways for brands to engage with their desired audience. However, less has been spoken about how sponsorship sales professionals can potentially use VR to their advantage.

Take the property market, VR is growing considerably in popularity as a way of marketing – and in the prime London market, whose investors often rather inconveniently live thousands of miles away from the properties they want to view, it can be a very handy tool indeed. The use of VR in property is already a $1bn industry globally, and Goldman Sachs estimate that is set to treble by 2020. Not to confuse sponsorship sales professionals with estate agents, but there is scope to learn from how VR is being used to good effect in their industry.

A sponsorship sale is often a longer process than many other business purchases, generally due to sponsorship impacting on multiple teams within in a brand, meaning considerably more internal discussions take place before a deal is confirmed. Therefore, sponsorship sales professionals are constantly looking for ways to minimise the obstacles during the process, and VR, if used correctly, could well eliminate several of these:

Understanding – Allowing potential buyers to really understand the essence of an event without physically being there is an art that sponsorship sales professionals have been trying to master in boardrooms for years through tone of voice, photos, and videos in presentations, and there is no doubt that many potential sales have broken down as a result of opportunities not being communicated effectively to brand managers. VR could well hold the key here and be the perfect tool to overcome this.

Clarity – A common scenario and potentially one of the most frustrating responses for any sponsorship sales professional is the decision by a brand to hold off until they have assessed the opportunity ‘in the flesh’. This can be a genuine declaration of interest, although can also be used as a ‘fob off’ from a brand manager who is too polite to say no or loves a freebie. With the introduction of VR into the sales process, brands could gain clarity about the opportunity and sponsorship sales professionals could gain clarity simultaneously around whether the proposition is truly viable for the brand, thus speeding up the sales process.

Impact – A key attribute of a good sponsorship sales professional is the ability to constantly come up with creative brand activations and communicate them effectively. Use of VR in these situations also has the capability to further enhance the impact of these concepts and really help bring a potential brand partnership to life.

VR in the boardroom is something that may not sit well with some, but in our increasingly tech dominated world its occurrence will surely increase, and if used effectively in sales pitches, it could well soon become the most vital tool for a sponsorship sales professional.


Minimal Investment, Maximum Impact 20th December, 2016

There are certain features we expect from any sponsorship deal involving a major international brand. Usually this involves months of strategic planning, a slick marketing roll out and accompanying integration and activation to help bring it to life.

This only comes after complex back and forth negotiations over contract signings to ensure that each party involved will receive what they desire; normally exposure for the brand and income for the rights holder.

However, this week a sponsorship deal was announced that seemed more like a playful idea than a well thought out plan, but that doesn’t seem to have lessened its impact.

The sponsorship link up is between Diageo owned alcohol brand Captain Morgan and Leicester City Football Club captain Wes Morgan. What makes this work essentially starts and ends with the respective names; both are Captain Morgan. Given that any Premier League footballer needs to have an excellent level of fitness it is unlikely he very often drinks alcohol, so he is not your typical brand ambassador.

The main driver of the deal was seemingly to create an instant impact online and in the press. In essence, the deal signing itself was the strategy and activation. In order to ensure maximum coverage the funny and unusual terms of the contract were released, including Captain Wes Morgan having the entitlement to “enter any licensed premises and buy every patron a Morgan and Coke” but only after starting a chant of “there’s only one Captain Morgan.” He is also required to dress up as Captain Morgan “should the opportunity arise.”

The deal was announced through a twitter photo instead of an official roll out, with Wes Morgan tweeting his signing of the contract directly to his followers and allowing them to see the terms for themselves.

The unusual terms meant it gained instant traction online and in the press, being picked up by national newspapers and international sports websites as well as being widely shared on social media.

The traditional marketing campaigner may see this as an unthoughtful approach, but this kind of guerrilla marketing, especially in the run up to Christmas, is an innovative and effective way to reach a large audience with minimal financial investment and maximum impact.  Fewer employee hours, minimal activation costs and no paid for press coverage mean the return on investment is likely to be more favourable than an expensive traditional media campaign.

This is not an indication that more strategic and considered sponsorship tactics are becoming any less effective, more an indicator that there is more than one way of making an impact, and in this instance it seems ideal.


Sponsorship DIY 16th December, 2016

‘You need money to make money’ is a common term people refer to when encountering financial obstacles and rights holders constantly face challenges when it comes to taking their projects to the next level.

Most entrepreneurial projects start off as a one-man band or in some cases they might have a small team in place, but nevertheless the amount of effort to get projects of any size off the ground is not for the faint hearted, requiring a substantial amount of time and expertise. Rights holders are now realising the importance of sponsorship not only from a financial standpoint but they are beginning to realise that brand integration can make significant improvements to their holistic business model – ultimately saving them time and money.

Yet, with sponsorship so important to rights holders – sponsorship professionals now understand their worth and as such, large fees are associated with such specialist agencies. Therefore, obtaining the money to hire their services can often be very hard to come by, making the journey from zero to hero a daunting prospect.

However, the solution is simple; identifying alternative services that allow you to function like a specialist agency might be the worthiest investment any entrepreneur can make. Enhancing your knowledge from a fundamental level in the field you operate can ultimately acts as the foundation to your success.

At Slingshot, we don’t just work with global properties but all businesses with the ambition of propelling every client we work with to the next level. For those unable to justify larger investments into agency support, we conduct commercial training sessions that have been designed to give people an insight into the step-by-step process we go through with our global clients, providing you with all the knowledge and skills to go out and secure long-term sponsorship for your own organisation.

Performing like a trained sponsorship expert will result in you developing the right propositions, having the right conversations with the right brands resulting in you building long-lasting relationships with sponsors whilst driving year on year revenue. Don’t just hire specialists, become one.

If you’d like to hear more about the commercial training sessions we run at our headquarters in London, please contact Liam Ward at liam@slingshotsponsorship.com.

To book onto the course, simply follow the link provided.


Extreme Tech Challenge 2017 Introduces New China Vertical — Thanks to Sponsors iTutorGroup 9th December, 2016

XTC 2017 and iTutorGroup team up to invite China’s brightest female entrepreneurs to join the race to Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island

Beijing, CNExtreme Tech Challenge (XTC) and iTutorGroup join forces in a deal brokered by Slingshot Sponsorship, to create—for the first time ever—the China Vertical category, inviting inspiring female innovators around China to share their ventures with the entrepreneurial community. Now in its third year, XTC pits the most brilliant minds of the entrepreneurial world against one another, catapulting one champion to the top. XTC 2017 draws finalists from across the globe, representing nearly every sector of the tech world from virtual reality to blockchain. Fresh off the unveiling of the Top 25 finalists, this year’s competitors are one step closer to the finals, hailing from London’s Canaria to Tel Aviv’s Intezer Lab and soon: China.

Founding partner and primary sponsor of Extreme Tech Challenge, iTutorGroup, has helped the annual challenge spread its roots deep into the heart of China and beyond. The online-education-based company deploys real-time interactive personalized learning sessions in countless subject matters to connect upwards more than 10,000 teachers, across 80 countries through millions of classes each year. Utilizing a wealth of platforms- vipabc, vipabc junior, TutorABC, TutorABCJr, TutorMing and LiveH2H, iTutorGroup grants students around the world access to invaluable learning opportunities live. Since its inception in 1998, their breakthroughs pushed language learning beyond the confines of the physical classroom, defying physical distance, to provide widespread access to foreign languages and other subjects. Creators of the first commercially available synchronous learning portal, it was only a matter of time until iTutorGroup turned their innate desire for innovation into a thriving partnership with Extreme Tech Challenge.

Reflecting on the strives iTutorGroup has made alongside XTC and what lies ahead for China’s most luminous female entrepreneurs, Dr. Eric Yang extols:

“We are truly excited to be part of Extreme Tech Challenge and support female entrepreneurs in China and around the world. Ever since we started our company, entrepreneurial and innovative spirit has been part of our DNA. We always encourage our employees to think outside of the box and start with new initiatives that will bring our company as well as industry forward. Our focus on innovation has enabled us to grow into a global company with offices in Silicon Valley, Shanghai, Tokyo and Taipei, which allows us to impact customers in more than 20 countries every day. Nevertheless, to achieve a lasting change, we need support of many entrepreneurs and innovators which is why we are so happy to be part of this contest and support young female entrepreneurs”, said Dr. Eric Yang, Co-founder and CEO of iTutorGroup and VIPABC.

The invaluable partnership resulted in the creation of the 2016 Women’s Entrepreneur Pitch Contest, which took place in Beijing on November 18, 2016. The Top Five Finalists are Next Dress, Patsnap, Merak, Hosbby and BestSign — Congratulations! A select judge will crown only one winner from the pool of five pioneering candidates. The top-prize winner will be invited to attend the illustrious XTC 2017 Finals on Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island with the opportunity to pitch their winning concept during the final round on February 2, 2017, to a panel of esteemed judges including iTutorGroup’s Chief Operating Officer Jerry Huang.

Extreme Tech Challenge will be unveiling the Top 10 candidates moving forward in the competition Saturday, December 3rd, 2016 at MaiTai Global’s annual Ocean Gala. An event to raise awareness for conservation and protection of the world’s ocean and its wildlife, the Ocean Gala is an integral stop on the race to Necker Island.

Stay Connected:
iTutorGroup: Website | Facebook | Twitter
XTC: Website | Facebook | Twitter

About iTutorGroup
iTutorGroup is the global leader in online education providing individualized, personalized learning experiences to hundreds of thousands of students and business professionals in countless subject matters through its network and sourcing of experts and teachers in thousands of centers, institutions and cities around the world. We do this by leveraging big data analytics and utilizing advanced algorithmic matching between students, classmates, teaching consultants and digital content. Since its inception in 1998, iTutorGroup has become the largest online platform driving live human-to-human interactions worldwide. iTutorGroup leads the revolution of education and live interaction with its human-to-human platform and service model. With iTutorGroup, anybody can learn anything from any device, anytime, 24-7.

About Extreme Tech Challenge / MaiTai Global
The Extreme Tech Challenge is the world’s largest startup competition. It is a contest designed to identify emerging leaders that have the potential to dominate their markets and reward them with greatly enhanced visibility, infrastructure and resources to scale quickly at low cost. Ten world class startups will be selected as semi-finalists to present live on stage at CES with 3 finalists presenting to a panel of all-star judges including Sir Richard Branson, Tom Siebel, Theresia Gouw, Jim Breyer and Steph Hannon on Necker Island. Winners will receive resources to amplify their success and scale their companies.

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


Don’t Fast-Forward Through Your TV Budgets 8th December, 2016

Speaking as someone who has transitioned from the sale of television advertising into the sale of sponsorships I believe that traditional television advertising is utterly overrated. I have spent years booking ad campaigns for well-known global brands who are desperately focused on ensuring that their thirty second ad is run at the precise time they booked it into. Even though that is virtually impossible to guarantee, given the ever-changing nature of live television, brands never fail to be shocked that an ad booked in at one time may move.

 

When I sit down to watch a television programme one thing I’m not paying attention to are the ads. According to data from Alphonso I’m not alone, with a little under half the population skipping ads. What does catch my eye however are the brands who are clever enough to integrate within a programme. Taking the time to asses an opportunity to integrate a product or brand into a television show is proven to be more successful when done correctly. Viewers appreciate brands who choose to support their favourite shows and will remember these brands each time they watch.

 

Many brands become put off by big scary price tags associated with sponsoring a television programme, however when you consider the engagement levels with integrated brands over the ones who are simply ignored or fast forwarded through during ad breaks, there really is no argument. I can’t tell you who’s ad ran 4th in break 3, but I can tell you the brand that took the time to relate to their audience by integrating within the programme. Brands who are still nit picking over which ad break their 15 second TVC falls into, must realise it’s time to wake up and understand the reason they want it to run first, in the back of their minds they surely realise no one is watching it anyway.

 

The limits with television sponsorship really do not exist. A successful television sponsorship becomes synonymous with your favourite show. They can also be used to drive a response from the viewers. Creating brand engagement is easy when you can influence the content of a programme as a sponsor. Sponsors provide a programme with the ability to be bigger, whether it be through sponsored segments outside of regular programme budgets, provision of prizes or even just product placement. This reflects positively on the sponsor, suddenly the prize provided to contestants of a reality show becomes something viewers at home want for themselves. This not only makes the brand desirable in viewer’s eyes but also memorable.

 

Brands who take the time to invest in a sponsorship at the end of the day see their efforts reflected in sales. Even though it may be a risk at the outset it is proven that sponsorships work and are effective when executed properly. Avoid being skipped, sponsor a programme, and secure your engagement among viewers.


E-Cigarettes – An ethical sponsor? 7th December, 2016

I’m sure by now everyone is familiar with the vaping phenomenon sweeping the globe and the E-Cigarette companies sprouting up at every corner. These are classed as a ‘healthy’ alternative to cigarettes and studies show both sides of the argument as to whether this is a true statement or not.

The large majority of rights holders, predominantly in the sporting sector, have a strict ‘No Tobacco’ sponsorship policy which is completely understandable. There is no link to tobacco and sporting performance and it is detrimental to the image of the club. Not to mention that any marketing of tobacco in the UK, and many countries around the world, is strictly prohibited.

However, E-Cigarettes and Vape brands are increasing their marketing and venturing into the sponsorship space as there are currently no laws in place saying they can’t.

St. Helens, the stalwart of English Rugby League, has recently announced its new Title and Stadium Naming Rights sponsor, leading e-cigarette brand ‘Totally Wicked’. Apart from the slightly odd naming of the stadium, which is now the ‘Totally Wicked Stadium’, it is interesting to see how the club has announced their new Title Sponsor.

In the press release St. Helens have said the e-cigarette brand contributes ‘not only financially, but also in supporting our wider health objectives’. They then go on to mention that they ‘have been able to create a supportive and vape friendly atmosphere at the club and believe the new deal will further their pioneering work by not only helping to raise awareness yet further of the damage smoking tobacco can do [but] also in deterring people from taking on the habit in the first place’.

It is proven E-Cigarettes are a much better alternative to smoking, but they are still addictive and contain nicotine. Whether you agree with this statement or not, it is interesting to see how from a PR perspective a controversial sponsor can be presented in a positive light.

The decision on whether a specific category of brand can become a sponsor or not is down to the rights holder or the governing body. In this case, St. Helens have simply secured a sponsor which will inject revenue into the club without breaking any rules, credit to them. It will, however, be interesting to see if more teams start to announce similar partnerships or if the league steps in to stop any similar controversial sponsors.


The Digital Value of Sponsorship 6th December, 2016

Rights holders need to begin realising the value digital can bring to their sponsorship packages. Due to the current lack of understanding around what constitutes a digital asset and how to incorporate this into a partnership, this will take a while.

Digital technology empowers rights holders. It allows them to understand who their audience is, where they spend their time and what they spend their money on. Some rights holders are using this digital understanding to improve fan engagement, but they’re not packaging and presenting it to brands in the correct way.

“I have an audience of 500,000” won’t wash. “We have an audience of 500,000; 75% Male, 65% between the ages of 40-60 and with an average income of £120,000” is where it should be – at a minimum. Communicating this to brands should be detailed and well thought out. Rights holders need to form ideas and strategies around how brands can access this audience intelligently rather than simply “I have an affluent male audience for you to target”.

Packaged creatively and informatively online audiences not only bolster an asset list but provide evidence and substance, rather than a vague reference point, that impacts a sponsorship far beyond the digital assets in discussion. Brands will invariably trust the rights holder more as they clearly have a good understanding of their fan base as well as the brands target audience.

The ROI can also be tracked far more accurately than before. There are now tangible click-by-click measurements such as how many fans bought a brands product, how many engagements content receives, how many fans entered a competition.

For example, rights holders can now offer feedback such as “our fans bought 500 of your products, and engaged with branded posts 4,000 times, giving you an ROI of 250% on a £50,000 investment”. Giving brands this accurate insight is invaluable and will be music to Marketing Directors’ ears.

These areas of measurement help identify the value of a partnership, its failures and successes. Meaning resources can be dedicated to improving areas of weakness, or focus on an entirely new partnership if the results prove to be that poor.

Brands are much more accustomed to the above way of thinking about digital. This is not rocket science, the above examples are simple yet worryingly foreign to the majority of rights holders. Those that adopt digital in the way it should be will attract more brands with far more exciting propositions than their logo focused counterparts – which is the name of the game right?

 

 



The Engagement – Virtual Reality and Sponsorship 1st December, 2016

Virtual reality has now become a reality in the way we consume and play sports. It has come a long way since Nintendo’s foray into it, albeit briefly, during the 90’s with the release of their Virtual Boy console. Despite the name, there is one thing that Virtual Boy was not, and that’s virtual reality. The system was conceived during a period of fascination with VR and although being a failure, it could be said that Nintendo were the pioneers of VR… credit where credit is due.

The ATP Tour Finals staged at The O2 in London 2 weeks ago is the sport’s biggest indication yet that they are taking necessary steps to prepare themselves for the future, with tennis fans given an introduction to the future of sports spectating. Virtual reality pods stood alongside a multifaceted broadcast operation and taken note of the mass of cameras including, the Spidercam and ultra-slow motion cameras capable of capturing the flex and movement of each muscle. Inside the pods, fans were able to use the newly-launched PlayStation VR and its tracking camera and handheld controller to give fans a deeper look inside tennis and reinventing the sport spectating experience.

Sponsors jump on this technology as they can provide fans with never before seen experiences, such as becoming their favourite athlete with POV or taking them into the middle of the action from the comfort of their own home While it is early days, we expect to see sponsored messaging tailored specifically to the individual wearing the headset, allowing for much more targeted marketing that current networks cannot achieve broadcasting to the masses.

The use of VR has seen brands open up a whole new channel of engagement. In 2014 Jaguar partnered with IBM to develop a VR experience allowing consumers to choose the model, make, colour and features of their favourite Jaguar. Consumers were even able to hope inside the car to check out interior features with a 360-degree view, and to make real-time changes all through the use of a headset. Jaguar have had such success with the use of VR, that they built on their technology with Andy Murray as part of the #FeelWimbledon Campaign, providing a Centre Court experience to feel the atmosphere while hitting the winning shot as Andy Murray.

The biggest asset VR has is its story telling power, taking users on a journey to breathe life into the brand is one of the main components of a content marketing approach and encourages the target market to develop a personal connection with a brand. The opportunities are endless for platforms to provide an immersive experience for users to gain a life-like experience, Moto GP could use this approach providing fans the thrill of riding a race spec bike in excess of 300 Kilometres per hour around Silverstone. It is this type of experience that engages someone on a deeper level, something that product distribution or branding simply can’t tap into.

While it is impossible to predict the future and whether VR will play a vital role in our daily lives, one thing can be said for sure, brands will continue to deliver unique and innovative experiences to engage with consumers and connect with them in ways never seen before.


Top 4 Tips On Uncovering Sponsorship Assets 29th November, 2016

Time and time again we see rights holders only offering some of their assets to a potential sponsor, rather than all of them. This is predominantly a logo placed in a high footfall area, or where they receive the most traffic on their website. Yes, these are important to a sponsor, but it is crucially important to ensure all potential assets are offered to sponsors.

Imagine a store that only sells the items in the first aisle and not the rest of the shop. This will reduce the potential revenue the store can generate, and narrow the potential of a customer purchasing more products from the other aisles. This is the same for sponsorship.

The problem with only offering some of the potential assets to a sponsor, or even just the main one, is that it is impossible to know exactly what a brand wants to utilise in sponsorship, particularly when approaching cold. The chances of understanding what a sponsor wants can, and should, be increased with research, but this must be done regularly. Every time a new approach is made research must be carried out to understand a brands strategic direction.

It is difficult to uncover all possible assets without previous sponsorship knowledge and whilst you are immersed in your day to day tasks. Below, are 4 quick tips to uncovering all possible assets:

 

  1. Get in the brands mindset – Figure out exactly why a brand would want to be a sponsor and specifically, what you can offer them that they simply can’t access without you.

 

  1. Brainstorming with colleagues – Don’t try to do this on your own, the more minds the better. As with any ideas session, everyone thinks differently which is needed to uncover the assets outside of the norm (NOT JUST LOGO PLACEMENT!)

 

  1. Travel the customer journey – Sponsors want access to your audience. So, travelling through the customer journey and understanding all possible touch points a sponsor can utilise to engage with your audience will provide multiple key assets.

 

  1. Check out the competition – Finally, get hold of your competitor’s sponsorship proposals and see what they are offering. It might spark a new idea or show you ways to improve your platform for sponsors.

 

When all assets have been uncovered, it then becomes about ensuring that these are effectively and aesthetically communicated in the best way possible to potential sponsors, as well as priced correctly.


Disruption? Stop it.  28th November, 2016

Those who know me well know that I am easily swayed out of the office with the promise of good wine and sponsorship chat.  Not only am I geeky like that (I could quite literally talk about sponsorship for days), I think it’s a crucial part of working in an industry that is shifting so quickly – you really need to know what is going on, how other people are navigating through what they deem is engagement with their clients, what challenges they have and how they are overcoming them.  I find these chats both motivating and relatable.

Except when it comes to disruption.

Don’t get me wrong, we all love Uber.  And yes, we all wish we came up with the Stratosphere idea.  But to continue waxing lyrical with the ‘disrupt or die’ mentality is not progressive, nor very helpful.  Equally when you consider Uber was just an idea to solve a problem – and not generated from a think tank.  To expect entire organisations to fundamentally stop their day jobs to begin to disrupt is not feasible.  To expect entire organisations to fully fund external consultants to come into their business to figure out how to disrupt them without an understanding of how that disruption will drive their bottom line is even more ridiculous.

I do believe in the value of disruption – but disruption with a purpose, and within the constraints of real life challenges.

Furthermore, in order to disrupt and have the mental capacity to begin to think about disrupting there needs to be space, time and most importantly a motivation.  I often say that innovation is borne out of necessity, but to innovate before it becomes necessary is the holy grail.  In order to achieve this, I believe that inspiration and capacity building through a shift in mind-set in stages is much more realistic and practical.  Empowering and collaborating in small areas of the business and building from there.  This isn’t typically how most people identify or recognise disruption.  However, I think if you looked a little harder, you’d find it is happening – even in industries as stagnant as sport sponsorship.


#Ad Spells Fear for Brands 24th November, 2016

Use of celebrity endorsements on social media have arguably become one of, if not the most craved sponsorship asset for many millennial-focused brands. Whether it be sport stars, pop stars, or people just famous for being famous, the upper echelon of these role models has such power and influence over society, and brands have benefited hugely from alignments since the social boom.

With certain role models boasting multi-million figures in terms of followers it’s easy to understand why brands are happy to pay out such significant fees to these influencers for product endorsements on social platforms such as YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, and it has proved a winning tactic dating back to the 1760’s where Wedgwood, producers of pottery and chinaware, used royal endorsements – in a time of divine right you can only imagine the influence that had on society.

The power of having someone you admire and look up to endorse a certain product or service is unquestionable, yet brands understand that to fully maximise the commercial potential there is a need to develop a stronger, longer term association with their chosen influencer so that all endorsements come across as authentic. Hence why brands decide to strike up sponsorship arrangements, partly because it is cost effective but also to change the perceptions of these influencers from a celebrity endorser to more of a brand ambassador.

Through sponsorship, brands can purchase rights to access these influencers across a variety of platforms creating a much stronger connection with the ambassador, which resonates better with the influencers’ audience. Within the terms of such sponsorship agreements, brands will add in exclusivity clauses effectively banning the ambassador from promoting a rival brand whilst contracted, again adding to the illusion that the millionaire role model really does shop at H&M!

However, recently the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) have been clamping down on this clear attempt by brands to subtly influence society – the 21st century version of subliminal messaging. ASA have stated that “if content is an advertisement, it should be obviously identifiable to consumers using the hashtag #ad” and there have already been several high-profile cases whereby brands and celebrities have been reprimanded.

Although this seems like a small formality to add onto the end of a Tweet, Instagram post or vlog, brands now need to ensure that this clause is written into contracts to avoid hefty fines. In addition to this extra bit of housekeeping, the hashtag has the capability to cause a much bigger problem for brands. These two letters have the potential to completely spoil the illusion for consumers and ruin the authenticity that a brand may have invested in for years. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how brands look to counter and gloss over this in future.


Quantity or Quality in Sponsorship 22nd November, 2016

The quantity of sports team sponsors has exploded in the last few years. In the not too distant past a sports club would be happy with a major sponsor on the front of their shirt and a kit sponsor to provide the team equipment.

In the age of globalisation, sports organisations see sponsorship as an enabler of expansion, allowing them to reach potential fans wherever their sponsors may be based as well as a key technique to raise revenue for both the club and the sponsor.

Manchester United embodies this new approach.  Already a global brand with fans around the world, in more recent years Manchester United have aggressively pursued sponsorship and partnerships from less traditional corners of the footballing globe.

Manchester United’s Integrated Telecommunications Partners are split up by region, meaning  for each of the following areas they have an entirely separate brand acting as sponsor; Hong Kong, Azerbaijan, Bahrain & Kuwait, Nigeria & Ghana, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. This approach allows the club to maximise revenue across a particular industry.

More obscure sponsors include Japanese company Nissin Foods Group acting as Official Global Noodle Partner while Malaysian brand Kansai has taken on the role of Official Paint Partner of Manchester United. These are in addition to the more traditional financial and motor companies who are considered the clubs major sponsors.

The argument for this proliferation of brand sponsorships is that it raises revenue for the club, as well as raising the clubs profile in less traditional parts of the world, all of which should translate to the clubs bottom line. In turn the brands benefit from this increased exposure and allegiance with a successful club.

However if not done correctly the sheer amount of sponsors in fact dilutes the clubs image of exclusivity and prestige which prospective sponsors may come to view as a drawback. Such a multinational and seemingly unselective approach to sponsorships could also erode the identity that years of success and history have helped to create.

There is an argument for clubs to reconsider this approach and focus on fewer, more focused and appropriate brands. It could result in greater bargaining power for the clubs by bringing back some of the feeling of exclusivity they may have lost.

With the most recent 2015 Premier League television deal worth over £5 Billion, a 71% increase on three years previously, the vast sums of money to be made in football suggest that this trend is more likely to accelerate than reverse.  Brands are showing no signs of being put off by the prospect of clubs retaining more and more sponsors. However if the trend continues on the current path, there may come a day when less is considered more.


The rise of eSports – From on the pitch to behind to the screen 17th November, 2016

By 2019, the eSports industry is expected to hit $1.23 billion in value according to SuperData reports. Considering electronic sports was not considered a legitimate form of organised competition over the past 10 years, the industry is growing at an alarming rate.

ESports is growing 38% in viewership and 42% in revenue year on year. The reason for its success in such a short space of time resides in its platform being incredibly accessible and inclusive. Regardless of size, age, gender or disability no individual is denied access of taking part, therefore the potential for the industry to develop in scale is limitless.

There are even signs to suggest that the world of eSports is taking over the traditional sporting industry. Twitch, the world’s leading video platform and community for eSports gamer’s, hosts more than 45 million users every month to broadcast, watch and chat. With data recorded by Twitch analysts, the average audience member of this platform spends 120 minutes a day tuning into this channel, which is only marginally less than the average person watches TV in the UK.

Sport is typically associated with athletic ability, however now that we are progressing to a more digital age, the way we perceive and participate in sport is altering. This is having a substantial effect on younger generations, who are now becoming heavily integrated with the use of technology and gaming. Since 2013 85% of children in households aged 8 to 15 owned a gaming console. With technological influence growing stronger, a new world of organised competition is emerging within the ‘sporting’ sector.

The rise of eSports has opened up numerous opportunities for participants as they find themselves with the chance to become professionals. Like all professional competitors, eSports athletes require time to train and develop their skills. Sponsorship acts as the foundation to sustain themselves as professional athletes, allowing them to commit their time and resource in becoming the best in the world!

With organised events celebrating competitions and leagues, eSports gaming stars can be earning up to 6 figures in sponsorships in addition to prize money, competing in sold out stadiums of up to 45,000 fans plus.

Global brands such as INTEL, IGN, YouTube, Google, Microsoft and Coca Cola have already seized the opportunity to sponsor eSports platforms, creating sustainable partnerships, and driving revenue and awareness to a key audience. Brands within a variety of differentiating sectors are now seeking to sink their teeth into this industry.

In the next coming decade, eSports is expected to be televised in every household. Brands world-wide are pursing early sponsorship contracts with eSports properties before markets become saturated and grow increasingly harder to access. The prospect of eSports taking over traditional forms of sport, in both participation and industry value is becoming reality.


Support the Startups Supporting You 16th November, 2016

Investing in innovation and entrepreneurship is necessary for any business to not only grow and evolve, but ultimately to survive. Becoming complacent and ignoring advances in your field can leave you left in the wake of competitors that mould themselves to adapt with changes in technology.

Given that it is not always possible to rely on your internal team for innovation many companies are recognising the need to invest in startups with new and fresh ideas. Not only does this foster creativity and innovation under their brand but it also is a way to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to advances in their industry.

One company that has seen the need to foster talent early is Nestlé who have developed their own platform to actively invest in startups. Nestlé HENRi was created with the objectives to enhance quality of life, contribute to a healthier future, tackle global issues and make genuine positive effects for millions across the world. Not only is this socially constructive for Nestlé’s brand but it also has proven benefits for sales and engagement with Nestlé products.

For example, through partnering with the startup Blippar, Nestlé have since been able to unlock new levels of engagement with their customers for both Milo & Nesquik products in an untested AR territory. Without opening themselves up to external ideas and investing in start-ups, this would not have been possible.

It’s not too late!

For companies that do not have the resources to set up projects of this scale, there are alternative ways to invest in start-ups & innovation. Slingshot is currently working with Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC), the world’s largest startup competition supported by Sir Richard BransonBill Tai (Twitter) and Jim Breyer (Facebook). XTC gives brands an opportunity to sit beside some of the world’s most influential business leaders, while ensuring that they are the first to have access to all new ideas & technology that this competition uncovers.

XTC gives brands the chance to integrate their entire suite of services throughout key events at the XTC Semi-Finals held at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January reaching over 170,000 tech savvy enthusiasts, and the XTC Finals taking place on Necker Island in February 2017.

Anchor judge of the program, Sir Richard Branson, sees the event as an opportunity to uncover untapped ideas and technology, “we are hunting for people and ideas that can literally change the world!”

Sponsor involvement is still available for the 2016/2017 XTC program. Sponsoring enables your businesses to align to a category specific to your industry, not only allowing your business to judge the entrants but also positioning you as an influencer among the best in global business. If you’d like to hear more information about partnership opportunities we have available, please contact Hayley Williams at hayley@slingshotsponsorship.com.

 


The Rise of Corporate Sponsorships 14th November, 2016

 

Corporate sponsorships of charity events are often seen in a negative light. The common concerns revolve around a perceived lack of influence on the event, or a worry that it might not align with their sponsorship activities. Admittedly, there is some substance to this thought, however, there are a number of unique benefits to these partnerships.

The abundance of ‘moments’ charity partnerships offer (something brands chase their tail for) is clear to everyone. However, brands always struggle with how to integrate this content without having the direct influence they might enjoy with other partnerships. Perhaps the content is too specific to the charity or the production partner didn’t catch the right images to deliver the brand story.

However, rights holders are now able to edit, re-edit, super-impose, dub, fuse, and do whatever a brand might want to this content. The freedom this creates for brands is unprecedented. They are now able to integrate these ‘moments’ with their brand story to not only demonstrate their support for charitable causes, but most importantly to create an authenticity that is hard to find.

The new and exciting forms of charity events now allow them to be seen as an entertainment events in their own right. For example, Music In The Wild is an event involving ten celebrities climbing one of the new seven wonders of world – Machu Picchu – with an intimate concert at the summit from a multi-award winning artist. An event like this is the sort that brands would ordinarily want to be involved in regardless of the charitable element. It merges music, adventure and charity, meaning a brands story can be told in a variety of ways that trump traditional corporate partnerships.

Equally, being part of such an exciting project is a great opportunity to engage and galvanise a workforce. Rather than the fairly mundane rewards a company might offer, a brand can instead reward their employees with truly once in a lifetime experiences. For example, instead of the hospitality treatment for employees, events that challenge employees combined with charity elements have an emotional long lasting impression on employees. The power this has change their outlook and unite a workforce behind one cause is a huge. The knock on effect of this is more money being raised for the chosen charity which is yet another thing for a brand to shout about.

The rise of celebrity ambassadors and the increasing endorsements or associations they have with charities mean corporate partnerships are now a huge opportunity to increase reach. For instance, sponsors of the BT Red Nose Climb had a huge success off the back of association with celebrities such as Cheryl Cole and Gary Barlow. These associations will almost always come at a lower cost than an ambassador partnership and with a much more authentic message. It’s a no brainer – more reach with a more credible and emotive story.

With charities now starting to invest in commercial planning, they are finding out that there is more than meets the eye than the obvious CSR benefits. The opportunities to integrate a brands story, unprecedented events and sheer reach of celebrity associations offer endless opportunities. Once brands become smarter to the benefits of these charity events the real value of corporate partnerships will begin to be realised.

 



Charity Challenge appoints Slingshot Sponsorship to boost commercial revenue 3rd November, 2016

Charity Challenge, the charity expedition company behind the Red Nose Kilimanjaro Climb for Comic Relief, is launching its next series of world first expeditions and has appointed Slingshot Sponsorship to manage its commercial rights for the official kick-off to the series – a trek through the Andes Mountains in Peru to the mystical Inca city of Machu Picchu in October 2017.

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

Charity Challenge, which has raised almost £50m for numerous worthy causes, is creating an epic challenge with a star-packed group of celebrities to take on the trek to Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site one of the most famous destinations on the globe. At the end of the challenge, under the stars and amongst breath-taking scenery, an intimate concert will be performed by a Global Superstar – who is soon to be revealed.

This will be the first in a series of nationally and internationally produced documentaries that will be shown on various broadcasters with one main aim, to raise life changing funds for a globally recognised charity.

“We’re delighted to have Slingshot Sponsorship join the Charity Challenge team. The entire agency truly understands our unique vision for this series of ground breaking events” said Simon Albert, Managing Director at Charity Challenge. “I’m confident that with Slingshot’s support we can continue to grow our specialist challenge events commercially through partnerships and ensure we maximise the potential to raise vital funds for worthwhile causes.”

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 as well as sustainable.

“Charity Challenge have an innovative and unique approach to raising much needed funds for global causes,” said Jackie Fast, Founder and Managing Director of Slingshot Sponsorship. “Charity Challenge and Slingshot have a shared interest in creating unique ways of shaking up a traditional fundraising market, so watch this space.”

Commercial opportunities are now available for the 2017 Machu Picchu expedition.

 


Slingshot shortlisted for the European Sponsorship Association Excellence Awards 2016 1st November, 2016

Renowned as the pinnacle accomplishment in sponsorship across Europe, Slingshot have been shortlisted in both the ‘Live Music Sponsorship Award’ and ‘Rights Holder Award’ categories for the European Sponsorship Association Excellence Awards.

The European Sponsorship Association (ESA), is the voice of the sponsorship industry across Europe, seeking to inspire, educate and raise standards within the sponsorship industry. As a membership association it strives to lead the industry through activities relating to policy and governance, corporate responsibility, education and training, provision of information and networking.

A truly perfect start to the week for the Slingshot team, proudly reminiscing on their recently conducted partnership with Snowboxx (Rights Holder) and Rockstar Energy Drinks. In a new development for 2016, Snowboxx created something never seen before at winter festivals, their own ‘Snowboxx Village’. Based in Avoriaz, the heart of the Port du Soleil ski region, Snowboxx Festival hosted a plethora of events from headlining performances, off-the-wall festival features & local food and drink stalls.

With the most important aspect of this sponsorship for Rockstar Energy Drink being customer experience, the brand took VIP to a whole new level by offering 26 competition winners the ultimate experience for any music lover, the opportunity to party like a rockstar.

Through Slingshots ability to set out a clear sponsorship plan for success – Rockstar Energy Drink were able to leverage their key assets on a number of platforms, ensuring an effective delivery to their captive audience.

On being shortlisted, Jackie Fast, MD of Slingshot Sponsorship, ‘To even be recognised by the ESA organisation is a huge honour. As an agency we aim to endorse that we are not a one trick pony but will consistently exercise optimal levels in effort and commitment for each of our clients’.

Moving forward the Slingshot team look to inspire the new additions to their team showcasing one of their best in class campaigns. Slingshot will continue to cover the entire spectrum of sponsorship disciplines, ensuring this lead of creativity will be replicated in future work.


The future of consumer experience is changing, are you changing with it? 1st November, 2016

I’ve recently had the pleasure of attending a number of futurologist discussions around AI, wearables, VR and much more.  As a bit of a geek, I find the evolution of technology to drive more humanistic behaviours fascinating – especially with my sponsorship hat on.  The capability for us to communicate, influence and make choices is exponentially growing, providing us completely unique capacities to build audiences and experiences.  While it is easy for us as individuals to get excited about the data gathered from our FitBit, it’s more enticing when understanding this in a macro marketing viewpoint.
As experiences become richer and easier to access, harnessing this insatiable appetite provides brands power they have never had previously.  The capability to answer customer complaints before they happen through data modelling, providing an instore experience in the comfort of your home, and individually tapping into consumer preferences through diversified marketing campaigns supports a journey that both consumers and brands are evolving through.
Underpinning this evolution remains passion points.  The key to why sponsorship is so effective, and arguably more so in this ever-changing landscape.  However, the majority of brands and rights-holders are only really just getting to grips on how to effectively monetise social media.  The overreliance on passion points is potentially hindering the sponsorship industry’s ability to integrate and truly make use of the data that is now available to everyone.   But by doing so, combining the deep knowledge and experience of sport/music/art within the wider context of changing consumer behaviour, the sponsorship industry would be unstoppable.


Engaging Fans, the Digital Way 25th October, 2016

In an age where digital plays a vital part in keeping individuals connected with what is going on in the world, the sports we consume are becoming increasingly delivered through our smartphones via live updates, streaming, betting or apps. With this in mind brands and rights holders are now focusing on engaging fans through innovative ways, rather than deploying their resources on stagnant marketing activities that don’t acquire significant ROI – it is all about plugging the gap between reaction and action.

As traditional forms of advertising near extinction, brands are figuring out how to link marketing, social media and the second screen, to create compelling, memorable experiences across all advertising and social platforms. Rather than having a logo plastered along pitch side LED’s in the Premier League, brands are using hashtags to provide incentives, exclusive content and rewards to consumers for taking part in their marketing.

In 2014, 76% of adults used a second screen while watching a sports match on TV, this stat has no doubt significantly increased over the 2 years since. Companies like Kwangl were born out of the concept of engaging fans with what they see on TV; through the device they are holding. Jonas Olsson, the West Brom star used Kwangl to increase his engagement with the team’s fans. Using two incentivised hashtags (#JonasOlsson3 and #JonasOlssonWBA) to run multiple competitions, fans taking part could win a signed pair of boots and a signed shirt in what proved to be a successful way to reach out and connect with them.

As fans participate in marketing campaigns through a unique call to action – they are in fact seeing a tangible result for being aware of the brands marketing, a win-win for all parties involved. The issue with this though, is does it take away from the spectacle of the event as fans are more involved in the marketing ploy.

As media technology improved, teams found it increasingly difficult to fill stadiums as fans preferred to catch all the action through ref cams and slow-mo on TV. Fan engagement is being used to drive crowds back into the stadiums and isn’t just about on field action, smart arenas are becoming the norm enhancing the fan experience in new ways to keep them engaged. The new Sacramento Kings arena, Golden 1 Center, has a mobile app for check-in, ushering you to your seat, indicating shortest bathroom and concession lines, seat upgrade options (much like what has been done in the airline industry), cashless commerce and in-seat wireless charging. With this sort of experience, why wouldn’t you want to fork out for season tickets.

It is vital for rights holders to understand how to correctly engage fans, ensuring they find the right touch points in order to connect on the right levels. Smart arena’s as an example, allows fans to always stay connected enabling use of their second screen to have live stats updates. When fans are completely engaged, the end product being delivered is that much better so they feel they are getting the most out of the experience.

Sports sponsorship no longer means simply attaching a corporate name to a stadium. Rather, it has become a triangle of association between the team, the sponsor, and the passionate fan. It involves taking two products and creating an affinity between them, largely through social currency. It will be interesting to see sports evolve with the increase in accessibility through technology such as virtual reality and how it could play a role in the way we consume sports. Watch this space!


You’ve got to do your research! 19th October, 2016

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. 14th October, 2016

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! 4th October, 2016

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? 3rd October, 2016

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 29th September, 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’ 26th September, 2016

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 12th September, 2016

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.

-Ends-

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

About Honda Racing BSB
Honda Racing BSB news releases and images are available to download from http://media.hondaracingbsb.co.uk/

Contact information
For corporate and model-specific comment, please contact:
David Rogers, PR Manager (Motorcycles)
T: 01344 888573 M: 07775 227872 E: david.rogers@honda-eu.com

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


Sponsorship in CSR – Is it effective or a ruse? 15th August, 2016

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 10th August, 2016

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 27th July, 2016

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.


It’s Not Who You Know 25th July, 2016

Far too many of our new business meetings focus purely on who Slingshot knows at Board level with brands. Undeniably, we know a lot. But that’s our business – it’d be like if McDonalds didn’t know what types of condiments to use for their hamburgers. It would be ludicrous if after 6 years of selling sponsorship rights to global brands, we didn’t make a friend or two along the way.

Unfortunately, almost all sponsorship sales agencies use this angle in their pitches – providing a false sense of security, to the potential new client, that sponsorship sales is all about speaking to the right person. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

In my 15 years of selling “stuff”, it’s almost never about who you know. Bad salespeople focus on this in a new business pitch because it’s easy. Rather than take time to review the boring strategic processes that underlie sponsorship sales, it’s easier to provide wow factor by name dropping. This masks the fact that the challenge of selling sponsorship actually is controllable by a rights holder and can be fixed without hiring a specialist sponsorship sales agency, and no one really wants that do they?

Slingshot’s approach is never about the black book, which many think is unconventional and also means we lose a lot of pitches to those that guarantee sponsors and often unachievable revenue targets. The smoke and mirrors sales pitch champion who they know, but if you are struggling to maximise your full sponsorship potential it’s not because of your sales people, your property or your access to LinkedIn – it’s your commercial strategy.

Without a commercial strategy that understands what assets you have, what assets brands require to drive ROI, your fair market value and a pretty spectacular proposal – you honestly don’t really have a chance. I am pretty good friends with a lot of big brand buyers, but even I can’t flog something without the above. Gone are Chairman’s Whim days, but it means you have got to start thinking about your proposition if you are going to invest time and resource into selling sponsorship.


Brexit and What It Means for Sponsorship 18th July, 2016

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 15th July, 2016

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 11th July, 2016

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 7th July, 2016

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 21st June, 2016

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 | XTC@slingshotsponsorship.com

Note to Editors:
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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.
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For PR comments and information, please contact Kirsty Matthews
e. Kirsty.matthews.consultancy@outlook.com t: +44 (0) 7834 238109



The Experts in Branded Content – Nike Football Presents ‘The Switch’ 13th June, 2016

[pexyoutube pex_attr_src=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scWpXEYZEGk”][/pexyoutube]

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 9th June, 2016

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 8th June, 2016

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 10th May, 2016

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 6th May, 2016

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 5th May, 2016

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 4th May, 2016

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 28th April, 2016

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 15th April, 2016

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 8th April, 2016

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 7th April, 2016

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.”


Heading off Piste – Solving Platform Issues With Sponsorship 31st March, 2016

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.


From rags to (relative) riches, what does this mean for Africa’s marketing mix? 30th March, 2016

Africa’s economic evolution over the next few years will be exponential – now home to more than 1.1 billion people, continued commodity-fueled growth combined with new energy discoveries and Africa’s ever growing role as a food producer for an expanding global population will certify increases in economic output for years. These revenues will increase per capita incomes and consumption demand. How can brands unlock this market and is sponsorship the answer? Historically lucrative sponsorship deals in Africa have been confined to sports such as football and rugby with deals ranging from $100, 000 to $5, 000, 000.

What will newly rich Africans spend their money on?

In the lowest-income group, consumption decisions are based on fulfilling basic needs; people in this category typically live from hand to mouth with near to nothing for savings. As people begin to shift away from an existence lifestyle, output per person rises moving them into the middle income group resulting in their brand consciousness emerging – resulting in more emphasis placed on quality.

Food: As people get richer, they first increase their caloric intake before they begin to diversify the kinds of foods they may eat and then, later begin to attach significance to certain brands and convenience

Beverages: Alcohol consumption follows a similar suit to food. Sales of beer (the cheapest brand) expand first – then consumers start to favour branded beer, then spirits and wines begin to gain market share and imported beers gain popularity.

Household items and vehicles: In Africa television penetration is below 20% in poor countries like Malawi and Mozambique, and rates are around 90% in the richer countries like Tunisia and Mauritius. The overall household television penetration rate has gone 42.4% in 2009 to around 50.8% in 2016. Vehicle ownership begins to increase also, incomes of US $2,500 to US $12,000 show there is double-digit growth in vehicle purchases as the product becomes more accessible.

Where to begin in marketing to Africa

Africa is huge continent – finding the right customers in the market can be a laborious process with as many as 53 countries. The future of marketing in to Africa could be compared to what western brands have done in India and China as a result of increasing incomes when those countries saw per capita gross domestic product (GDP) rise quickly in the 1990s and 2000s.

Chinese Marketing in the 1900’s and 2000’s

Due to its fast economic expansion and Open Door policy, China has become a lucrative market for Western companies that are seeing a decreasing market demand in their home countries. China’s rapidly expanding middle class is expected to triple their spending over the coming years, reaching $6 trillion by 2020. Although China offers many opportunities for Western companies, the Chinese market presents obstacles to Western marketing managers too.

Many of these barriers originate from the Chinese culture, which can be difficult for Western marketing managers to understand. The culture influences consumer buying and adoption behaviours, and Western marketing managers are challenged to gain insight into the Chinese consumer. By following these 3 examples brands may not trip up in a foreign market.

  1. Make your brand more socially and culturally acceptable:
    • Back when Coca Cola entered the Chinese market it was struggling to attract the same consumption it sees in its home markets, one idea fashioned by the company was to change the brand name. Coca Cola’s Chinese name, 可口可乐 Ke Kou Ke Le, loosely translates to “happiness in the mouth” and also sounds like Coca Cola.

 

  1. Know your market:
    • The success of China’s Taobao versus eBay determines the importance of knowing your target market. Both have the same basic service in which someone can sell products to another, yet it was the platform and methods which Taobao used that captured the Chinese market. EBay required customers to pay online using a credit card, something that is standard in the west. Taobao, knowing that many Chinese do not like to use credit cards online either because of they don’t own one or because of security concerns, allows customers to pay with cash on delivery.

 

  1. Advertise through effective experience:
    • Advertisements have been ineffective because they depict people and/or situations that are unfamiliar to the Chinese audience, such as a blonde family of four vacationing on a sunny California beach.

For western brands to take advantage of a growing economy they should look to emulate the marketing techniques of those in China, then they will emerge victorious within a new and expansive market.



“How Long Should My Sponsorship Proposal Be?” 9th March, 2016

I am asked this everywhere I go – it seems to be the thing that most people think is holding them back from securing that perfect partner.  As much as I’d love to provide a one-size-fits-all solution, unfortunately (much like most of sponsorship) this is not the case and the answers vary with each sponsorship platform.  The golden rule is to keep it as short as possible, but still retaining all the information a prospect absolutely needs to know.  As most people are not quite sure what information a prospect absolutely needs to know, I’ve created some tips to help you when creating your sponsorship proposal:

  1. Keep it short, sweet and concise. Sponsorship proposals are not the latest Grazia or best Faulkner – put simply they aren’t interesting and regardless who you send it to in whatever format, people are not desperate to read them.  Sponsorship proposals are just not exciting regardless of how exciting your actual property or opportunity is.  Rather than accepting this, people overcompensate the boredom by writing excessive copy hoping to draw people in.  This is simply not the case – mostly because you aren’t a copywriter and even the best copywriters in the world are unlikely to make your sponsorship proposal a page turner from copy alone.  Therefore, don’t try and make your proposal exciting just by writing more about it.  In our digital age, if you can catch their attention and imagination – they will Google you.
  2. Following on from above – make sure whatever they Google is good.
  3. A picture says a thousand words. If you have great imagery – use it in the best format possible which is typically in a landscape format.  Saying this, don’t fill the entire proposal with a load of the same pictures – if they want to look at pictures of an event or people at an event, they will go on Facebook.
  4. Put a price on it. Don’t waste people’s time.  If you are going to go to the effort of sending a sponsorship proposal, make sure everything that the buyer needs is in there and this includes how much you expect from them in return.
  5. Be professional. I estimate that over 95% of all sponsorship proposals in the world are done by the person looking for the investment.  You are often the Founder, Marketing Director, Event Manager or Sponsorship person.  It’s not your fault you are not a graphic designer, you have other important skills.  But it is important to recognise you are not a graphic designer.  People like things that look good.  You wouldn’t try out the new restaurant in town if they handed you a hand-drawn flyer made out of copy paper and crayons so how can you expect someone to part with budget when you won’t even invest on your own sales collateral?

In terms of a litmus test, I recommend taking your sponsorship proposal to a brutally honest friend and asking their opinion.  They don’t need to work in marketing to have an opinion – they just need to not worry about hurting your feelings.  Listen to them.  They will definitely help.

Failing getting a friend’s sign off, get some actual professional help.  Speak to a sponsorship agency for feedback and/or hire them to put together a proposal for you.  Slingshot obviously does this, but there are also many other agencies who can help too.  It is such a shame to see people fail at securing sponsors for their event because of a bad proposal, but not a bad property so don’t go it alone!

If you are interested in having Slingshot review or create your sponsorship proposal drop us an email: proposalreview@slingshotsponsorship.com


Coors Light Announced As Official Beer Supplier For Snowboxx Festival 2016 29th February, 2016

Coors Light have been announced as the ‘Official Beer Supplier’ for Snowboxx Festival 2016 with the agreement brokered by Slingshot Sponsorship.

In a new development for 2016, Snowboxx is creating something never before seen at winter festivals, its own ‘Snowboxx Village’. Based in Avoriaz, the heart of the Port du Soleil ski region, Snowboxx Festival will host a plethora of events from main stage performances, off-the-wall festival features & local food and drink stalls.

Coors Light partnership with Snowboxx further supports the brand message of #DammeCold and the positioning as the ultimate in ice cold refreshment.

The partnership will see Coors Light as the exclusive beer supplier to the festival with retailing across multiple bars onsite in addition to inclusion in all promotional activity across Snowboxx’s digital and social channels and a bespoke Igloo party hosted onsite during the week-long snow festival extravaganza.

Rachel Twemlow, Brand Manager for Coors Light commented: “Coors and Snowboxx have a natural affinity through the shared passions of music and the cold nature. Snowboxx 2016 is set to be the biggest and best yet and this will provide a super platform to launch our relationship as well as the opportunity to capture great content and engage with our core demographic.”

This year, Coors Light will be in the acoustic company of headline acts Sigma, one of the biggest acts of 2015 and DJing royalty Grandmaster Flash for what will be a week of unforgettable music, skiing and partying.

Aden Levin, Managing Director, Snowboxx remarked: “Coors’s partnership with Snowboxx is testament to the shared vision of both brands. With the event growing year on year we’re excited to be able to start this relationship and look forward to what will be the biggest ski festival of the year.”

 

Register your interest for Snowboxx 2016 now at http://snowboxx.com/



Will brands click play on creating an e-athlete megastar in 2016? 23rd February, 2016

E-Sports are fast becoming more popular as both a competitor and spectator sport in the West, with Wembley Arena playing host to large events such as League of Legends and a dedicated e-gaming space currently being developed in Fulham.

Despite numerous stalwarts’ draconian views and attempts to undermine the credibility of the platform, veteran e-sports journalist Rod Breslau commented in a VICE interview that it continues to surpass expectations in revenue and attention. A once tight knit community now draws in hundreds of thousands of attendees to events (surpassing many traditional sporting contests), eager to see their team take home cash prizes to $18million (The International 2015).

Already USA and Korea have ‘appointed’ superstar players (Faker, NadeShot), with the success of KSI (he would be the first to point out he is not a ‘gamer’) in the UK when will mainstream brands see the e-sports as a credible, substantial marketing platform? Red Bull were the first major brand to act signing Dave ‘Walshy’ Walsh in 2006 however relatively few brands have followed. Venturing outside traditional endorsements to capitalise on the expanse of the platform, Red Bull developed training labs focusing on nurturing and developing the e-sports athletes of the future, cementing their position and long term commitment in the sport.

E-sports is growing in size year on year with significant growth expected in 2016. The platform is already producing talent, major events and games which are capable of building and capturing a loyal fan base of elusive millennials. These can be reached through numerous, non-traditional channels including online streams and development YouTube channels, to note Matt ‘NadeShot’ Haag has over one million YouTube subscribers who follow his daily gaming sessions.

Yet Europe has yet to find their e-sports star on the same pedestal as their Asian counterparts such as Sang-Hyeok Lee, who is constantly in discussions with native Chinese companies interested in partnering.

There are a number of parallels with the growth of sports marketing in the 1970’s and the e-gaming platform of today with brands viewing the platform with trepidation as opposed to optimism. Brands should look towards e-sports as an exciting platform to engage with their market using all of the crucial buzz words of content and media coverage of the industry today (in 2014 over 70 million hours of content was captured from League of Legends online, with the BBC streaming the 2015 contest live on their IPlayer and Sport platforms).

2016 is set to be a monumental year for the growth of the e-sports industry, with tournament prize pools reaching up to $20 million and huge strides pending in the Western market.  With new launches of multiplayer sensations (such as Overwatch, Battleborn) sponsors will have the ability to engage in real-time with the audience something which is rarely achieved through traditional sporting means.

For those brands who position themselves as ground-breakers E-sports offers the perfect challenge. The only question is, who will click play?


What Car? Win Excellence Award with the help of Slingshot Sponsorship 16th February, 2016

What Car? was awarded the Rights Holder Achievement Award at the prestigious European Sponsorship Association Awards held at Café de Paris in London.
Overcoming strong competition from around Europe, What Car? impressed the judging panel after turning around dwindling interest from sponsors in their flagship event and bringing numerous new sponsors on board.
In 2011 the What Car Awards only had one sponsor which signalled the lowest event revenue in its 36-year history, at this point they enlisted the help of Slingshot Sponsorship to overhaul the commercial strategy and attract new sponsors.
Four years later, the first sponsor Slingshot brought on board in 2012 are still sponsors today, despite signing one-year contracts each year. What Car Awards and Slingshot Sponsorship have achieved this by creating the right partnership for each sponsor, delivering results year in year out – ensuring the delivery of truly sustainable sponsorship.
Jackie Fast, MD of Slingshot Sponsorship commented; “We are really proud of our work with the What Car? Awards who were actually Slingshot’s first ever client, the Awards are a fabulous event which now has the sponsor partners it deserves.
Slingshot are unique in the fact that we exclusively specialise in sponsorship sales – particularly how to creatively build a commercial proposition. This award win (one of many for this client) supports how our innovative approach significantly impacts our client’s bottom line for the long term without compromising the culture and personality of the event. We are thrilled!”

To find out more about the What Car? Awards please click here.
To read the Slingshot case study on What Car please click here.
To find out more about Slingshot Sponsorship please click here.
To see more news from the ESA Excellence Awards 2015 please click here.


Sponsorship Predictions 2016 1st February, 2016

Sponsorship has undergone a seismic shift in communications and it seems that everyone is finally catching up. This means great things for our industry – realising that sponsorship is more than a logo opens up a whole world of opportunity for industry growth this year.

Every January I like to start the year off with a handful of predictions for what I think will be in store and this year is no different. To gauge my predictive power, you can read last year’s sponsorship predictions here.

2016 trends:

  1. Sponsorship spend will continue to surpass advertising spend. Forecasts by GroupM project ad spending to increase by 3.8% while sponsorship spend is set to increase by 4.1%.
  2. People will continue to talk about engagement, but not truly deliver it. Attend a sponsorship conference and you are likely to hear ‘engagement’ being the key point of discussion; however, the activation strategies continue to remain the same.  Just because you call something engaging, doesn’t mean it actually is.
  3. Growth in non-sport sponsorship markets.  At Slingshot we have seen a new appetite for commercial innovation among governments and venues. This is quite exciting when compared to basic naming rights deals – allowing significant creative impact to make a real difference.  We think this is the year that naming rights will take on an entirely new meaning.
  4. Online will become more prominent with spend complimenting onsite sponsorship activation.  Online sponsorship is becoming more robust and clients have become more educated on how this drives brand ROI.  Slingshot have recently partnered with technology ticketing firm Billetto to be the first to introduce this concept across thousands of events in the UK and Europe – read more here.
  5. Brands take on the challenge of becoming rights holders.  Personally, I find this quite exciting – brands revolutionising the space, creating events themselves, and securing brand sponsorship to fund their actvity.  Initially launched with Vodafone Firsts many years ago, the concept is becoming mainstream and even smaller brands are understanding that if commercialised correctly, this is a cost neutral way to radically build your brand.

We wish you a successful 2016 and be sure to watch out for Slingshot – it’s going to be a big year for us


Billetto joins with Slingshot Sponsorship to develop digital sponsorship for event owners 27th January, 2016

Billetto, the ticketing platform has joined forces with Slingshot Sponsorship to develop an innovative activation platform for its event owners to connect with their fans.

The rich data Billetto has on each of its attendees is much sought-after by event owners wanting to engage with specific audiences based on lifestyle segmentation and with access to over 35,000 events across the UK, and an active email database of 250,000, the pickings are ripe for Billetto’s partner brands.

With access never before available with such ease, brands will now be able to hone into very niche audiences using demographics in addition to interest segments such as culture, music, sport and creative.
“Our USP as a data provider is that we can offer a model where the client only pays for the specific data they need, so if they are targeting a very small audience of 35-44 year-old foodies within a certain European region, they would only pay for the reach we could deliver,” explains Morten Jensen, Partner at Billetto.

Jackie Fast, MD of Slingshot Sponsorship says, “The potential of this is enormous and helps bridge the gap between online and onsite engagement. By working with rich data, we can segment campaigns and messages with minimal cost and resource. Equally there is the capability to create extremely widespread campaigns and develop continuity with the same consumer – regardless of which music festival or event they attend. It marks a shift in the way that brands and rights holders can operate in the sponsorship industry.”

To find out more about how your brand could utilise Billetto customer data to engage meaningfully with your target audience online, please contact Andrew Selby from Slingshot Sponsorship:
E: andrew@slingshotsponsorship.com
T: +44 (0)207 226 5052


Slingshot Sponsorship launch 2016 Workshop Series at world-renowned Shoreditch House 18th January, 2016

Following on from her successful workshops at Shoreditch House last year, Jackie Fast, Founder and MD of Slingshot Sponsorship today announces a series of six more workshops to take place at the illustrious member’s club for 2016.

“We had a great response to our sponsorship series last year at Shoreditch House and I’m very pleased to be able to offer more seminars in these delightful surroundings,” says Jackie.

“Our seminars are open to any rights holders who want to gain the knowledge to secure sponsors, identify their best assets to build into a sponsorship proposal and ensure their proposal is valued at the right level. We work with many companies now who didn’t initially think of themselves as a rights holder! Now they’ve realised they can open up this new revenue stream and bring in partners with expertise they didn’t previously possess, hugely benefiting their bottom line.”

Seminars which are offered to club members begin in February and run until June, the dates and titles of each seminar are below.
The final seminar gives you the opportunity to pitch your sponsorship opportunity to a panel of experts who will offer advice and feedback. The best pitch of the session will win a full day’s consultancy with Slingshot Sponsorship, worth £5k, so sign up today!

For more detail on each of the seminars offered and to register please visit:
http://www.sohohouse.com/house-seven

February 16th – The future of sponsorship
March 7th – Sponsorship assets
April 5th – Sponsorship valuation
May 3rd – Perfecting your sponsorship proposal
June 7th – Negotiating your sponsorship
June 14th – Open pitch session: Pitch to win


Jackie Fast, MD of Slingshot Sponsorship announced as a guest speaker at International Confex 2016 13th January, 2016

Slingshot Sponsorship today announce that Jackie Fast, MD and Founder of the agency will be attending International Confex, the exhibition for Event Organisers at London Olympia on March 2nd and 3rd 2016.

On 2nd March as part of an educational programme at the Association Events Forum, Jackie will present a seminar entitled ‘How associations maximise sponsorship potential in 2016’ to attending delegates such as MacDonald Hotels & Resorts, Emirates Old Trafford and Eventbrite.

On the following day Confex welcomes the AEO Sales Conference delegates to Olympia’s Pillar Hall for a cutting-edge programme of education where Jackie will be giving a talk on ‘Sponsorship sales – the pinnacle of client engagement.’

To find out more about International Confex at Olympia and to register please click here.


Dare2B Announced As Official Ski-wear Supplier For Snowboxx Festival 2016 11th January, 2016

Dare2B have been announced as the ‘Official Skiwear Supplier’ for Snowboxx Festival 2016 with the agreement brokered by Slingshot Sponsorship.

This year, Avoriaz in the heart of the Port du Soleil ski region, will play host to Snowboxx Festival. In a new development for 2016, Snowboxx is creating something never before seen at winter festivals, its own ‘Snowboxx Village’. This village will host a plethora of events, main stage performances, off-the-wall festival features & local food and drink stalls.

Dare2B’s decision to partner with Snowboxx is fuelled by their desire to become the skiwear choice on the slopes in 2016. To celebrate the launch of the partnership, Snowboxx are running a ’12 Days of XXmas’ promotion with the chance to win £200 worth of Dare2B ski clothes.

The partnership will see all Snowboxx staff equipped with Dare2B merchandise for the duration of the event. In the run up, Dare2B will also be included in all promotional actitivty across Snowboxx’s digital and social chanels whilst discounts will be available for all festival attendees to ensure they are ready for the week-long extravanganza.

Catherine Tait, Marketing Assistant for Dare2B, commented: “The choice to partner with Snowboxx for a second year was an easy one after last year’s Festival. This year’s event will provide another fantastic platform upon which to engage with our core demographic. It will also help us achieve our ultimate goal of becoming the skiwear brand everyone is wearing across the slopes of Europe.”

Last year, Snowboxx witnessed the explosion of Jungle, who featured on the main stage with the likes of 2manydjs and Eton Messy. This year, Sigma, one of the biggest acts of 2015, are headling with DJing royalty Grandmaster Flash for what will be a week of unforgettable music, skiing and partying.

Aden Levin, Managing Director, Snowboxx remarked: “Dare2B’s partnership with Snowboxx was a natural one but what really stood out for us was their vision for the brand. We were delighted to be part of that and I look forward to seeing Snowboxx staff hitting the slopes in their Dare2B skiwear for what will be the biggest ski festival of the year.”

Register your interest for Snowboxx 2016 now at http://snowboxx.com/



Sponsorship Revolution in Iran, the unexploited market of the Persian state 18th December, 2015

Earlier in the year we saw a massive development in international relations, as Iran signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. The treaty, has the objectives to inhibit the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to assist in the goal of nuclear disarmament (depository states of the non-proliferation treaty include United States, Great Britain and Germany). Before this, Iran was seen as an outsider in the global community due to world super powers freezing many financial assets, implementing trading embargo’s and sanctions that were crippling the nation’s economy and society.

To prevent an economic collapse, the Persian state succumbed to the West’s demands and signed the treaty. With this change, there is a commercial revolution afoot. The youth of Iran are in search for a taste of modern western culture – which makes this an area of opportunity for brands looking to grow in the Middle East. Sponsorship can be the tool to forge new revenue streams in prime markets such as tech, consumer and sport products.

Iran’s demographic has shifted considerably in the past 20 years. The archaic revolution era of the 80s has passed as the left wing followers are growing old and having a smaller effect on the country’s political direction. The new youth of today are inter-savvy and pushing change underpinned by this improved relationship with the West.

Where does sponsorship fit into all this?

Iran adores sport, especially football. The Iranian Football Premier League, consists of 16 teams and is ranked by the Asian Football Confederation as the 3rd best league in Asia, and the National team are the highest ranked Asian team placed at 38th in the FIFA world rankings.

In 2011 The Iranian Football Federation secured TV rights of both Iranian Football Premier League and national team matches worth $96.5 million that ran until 2014. If a country that was under major sanctions can generate a football league that is one of best in the Asian peninsula and a T.V. deal of almost $100 million, what potential does this nation now have with these sanctions now revoked?

A real life example

An example of a country that has had a major development in sporting infrastructure is India. In 2008 the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) used a heavy mixture of commercialisation, international stars and Bollywood glamour to transform and unlock India’s immense market for sport, with the creation of the Indian Premier League for twenty20 cricket. This concoction of sport, culture and glamour has enabled the league to become the most-watched twenty20 competition in the world.

At its height the Indian Premier League had title sponsorship deals with Pepsi Co. worth $71 million (2013-2015) and DLF Group, India’s largest property developer, worth $50 million (2008-2012). On top of these monstrous sponsorship deals, a T.V. partnership was created. It was made up of India’s Sony Entertainment Television (Set Max) network and Singapore-based World Sport Group. Both of these entities secured the global broadcasting rights of the IPL with a record deal that has a tenure of ten years at a cost of US$1.026 billion.

All of these factors have enabled The Indian Premier League to be one of the most watched competitions in the world, resulting in the league currently being worth in excess of $3.67 billion. By replicating India’s platform, the Iranian Football Premier League could be looking at exponential profits.

Here are three ways in which The Iranian Football Premier league can emulate the success of The Indian Premier League:

  • The Iranian Football Premier League could look to branch away from the state ownership of teams and move into a more corporate ownership or stakeholder structure. Clubs who do so could have the potential to increase their sponsorship opportunities as they are more commercially viable to brands due to their business strategies.
  • The popularity of the league is clearly demonstrated with the average attendances of each game (Esteghlal Meli-Sanati Khuzestan Football Club average attendance is 50,000). Packed stadiums emanate an exciting and appealing league that is tempting for broadcasters
  • Finally a league that is appealing to broadcasters will be lucrative for sponsors. This means the league needs to begin to look further than the Persian Gulf and Asian continent in order to maximise and increase its audience and following.

By moving into a more corporate playing field, leveraging the sports obvious popularity and expanding its TV reach has enabled the Indian Premier League to become one of the most popular and profitable completions in the world. Iran now has the opportunity to follow that same blueprint.



Should the Tate Gallery have refused BP’s corporate sponsorship following Deepwater Horizon? 16th December, 2015

On 20th April 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, sinking the rig and causing the largest marine oil spill in history. Following the disaster, the news coverage surrounding BP thrust the spotlight on the oil conglomerate’s sponsorship programme – most notably their 26-year long relationship with the Tate Gallery in London.

Since Deepwater Horizon, pressure has built for the Tate to end this relationship. The greatest criticism has been levelled by pressure groups Platform and “BP or not BP”, whose argument centres around the premise that cultural institutions like the Tate should not be accepting sponsorship from corporations with debatable environmental records.

 

Corporate sponsorship v corporate philanthropy

BP or not BP’s argument that the conglomerate is “not doing this (sponsoring the Tate) out of the goodness of its heart” is correct. Corporate sponsorship involves no philanthropic element yet pressure groups leverage their argument around this demonstrating how misunderstood the relationship between corporates and the art world is.

Corporate sponsorship is a business transaction and differs markedly to corporate philanthropy, which is where a corporation makes a charitable donation with no expected return. Sponsorship, on the other hand, is entered into by corporations for the rights available through the fee they pay. These could be naming rights which, in BP’s case, have been activated through the BP Displays series.

 

Benefits v reputational damage

As an indication of the benefits of BP’s quarter-of-a-century long sponsorship, 37 million people have visited BP Displays, BP’s free collection displays across the Tate group of galleries. Of those, 6m schoolchildren have visited the Displays and BP’s Art Exchange, which provides access to the Tate’s collection and archives, has reached 10,000 schoolchildren in 50 countries since its launch in September 2013.

Despite the short-term reputational damage to the Tate through being associated with the Deepwater Horizon spill and the subsequent fall-out, it is clear the benefits of BP’s long-standing commitment to the gallery far outweighed the temporary reputational damage. This was reiterated by the Tate’s trustees who concluded the “benefits of BP’s support far outweigh any quantifiable risk to our reputation.” They added “BP fit within our (sponsorship policy) guidelines and their support has been instrumental.”

 

Corporate sponsorship of public bodies

There has been little evidence of overwhelming public rejection of BP’s support for the Tate, particularly after Deepwater Horizon. The public response to BP’s sponsorship has been led by marginal environmental pressure groups combined with a smattering of Tate members and artists.

As a non-departmental public body, funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and home to the national collection of British art, the public have a right to be involved in the debate surrounding corporate sponsorship of the Gallery. However, BP’s sponsorship has been scrutinised a number of times by the Tate’s Ethics committee who have concluded that “taking a moral stance on the ethics of the oil and gas industry remains outside of the Tate’s charitable objectives”.

This lack of public support to end the sponsorship was most apparent this summer when protest group Liberate Tate spent 25 hours scrawling climate change messages on the floor of a Tate exhibition. Thousands of visitors passed through believing them to be part of the exhibition, with the protest not even registering on the public’s consciousness.

 

When approaching potential corporations for sponsorship, arts organisations should be mindful of these issues. Furthermore, when a deal is struck, they should seek to communicate the nature of the sponsorship, the benefits to the organisation and the wider public in order to directly challenge detractors.

 

 

@SimonBinks_


Snowboxx Festival Secures Rockstar Energy Drink as Official Partner 25th November, 2015

Rockstar Energy Drink has been announced as the ‘Offical Energy Drink’ for Snowboxx Festival 2016 with the agreement brokered by Slingshot Sponsorship.

Snowboxx Festival has found a new home in Avoriaz, the heart of the Port du Soleil ski region. The festival is creating something never before seen at winter festivals, its own ‘Snowboxx Village’ in the heart of the town. The village will host a plethora of events, main stage performances, off-the-wall festival features & local food and drink stalls.

The partnership will see Rockstar Energy Drink integrate throughout Snowboxx 2016 having been granted use of use of a range of Snowboxx imagery and assets. This will be further supported by VIP competitions to offer attendees the opportunity to experience Snowboxx 2016 as a true Rockstar.

Gordon Donald, Brand Manager for AG Barr commented “Rockstar Energy Drink has always had a close connection with music and winter action sports so partnering with Snowboxx felt like a perfect and natural fit for our us. The festival has grown each year and the Rockstar team are excited to bring our unique brand of energy and party to Avoriaz!”

Following sell out attendances in the last three events, Snowboxx 2015 featured the likes of Jungle, 2manydjs, Blonde and Eton Messy for a week of music and slopeside activities. Now Snowboxx 2016 is set for an even bigger 2016 lineup with chart topping duo Sigma and double Mobo award winner Stormzy already featured on the bill alongside hip-hop legend Grandmaster Flash.

Aden Levin, Managing Director, Snowboxx remarked “The partnership with Rockstar Energy Drink is really exciting for Snowboxx. The brand embodies the Snowboxx spirit of living life to the full and there is a great crossover between the event attendees and their audience. We look forward to welcoming them to Avoriaz!“.

Final tickets now remaining for Snowboxx 2016 now at http://snowboxx.com/


Slingshot Sponsorship Walk Away with Two Bronze Awards at the Field Marketing & Brand Experience Awards in London 2nd November, 2015

Last week the Slingshot team attended the Field Marketing & Brand Experience Awards at the Troxy. It was a really great night with eccentric British themed activities, topped off with two bronze awards! We were rewarded for the Outsourced Sales Performance of the Year for our work over the past five years with the What Car? Awards as well as the Most Effective Sponsorship Activation for our work with Ableton at Outlook and Dimensions Festivals in 2014.

Slingshot came on board with the What Car? Awards in 2011 transforming the sponsorship revenues within the first year; however, being retained since, revenue has continued to increase year on year.  Beyond that sponsors now working with the What Car? Awards have been integrated throughout other areas of the business – illustrating how partnerships are integral to the overall organisation.  As one of Slingshot’s first clients, their success and multi-award winning sponsorship programmes is recognition for our new approach to developing sponsorship in today’s changing landscape.  Find out how we did it on the case study here.

Securing bronze for the Most Effective Sponsorship Activation is particularly relevant this year – outlining how Slingshot worked with a rights holder to develop new properties based on insight.  The development of the Knowledge Arena is the first activation of its kind worldwide.  This development of roundtables, show and play technologies, and panel discussions at a music festival was welcomed and become a key driver for music software and technology companies partnering with the festival overall.  See the full case study here.

Given the fierce competition, we are really proud of this achievement which is a testament to the team and the clients who worked hard to make this happen.


To Buy or Not To Buy – Michael Jordan & the Cost of Two Coupons 30th October, 2015

Money is almost always a closely guarded secret, whether between friends, business relations or colleagues.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than the world of sports business with undisclosed fees for player transfers and the value of sponsorship deals rarely disclosed, so not to alert others to an inflated bank balance or be extorted for a fee. However, what happens when a company uses rights it has no possession of?

This was the focus of an unusual dispute between Michael Jordan, Safeway and Jordan’s long-term sponsors Nike.

Following Safeway’s unsolicited use of the Michael Jordan name without permission the two recently visited court to settle a proposed $10 million payment from a 2009 infringement.

In 2009 a subsidiary of Safeway’s placed in an advert and coupon incorporating Jordan’s name and Chicago Bulls number within a commemorative Sports Illustrated issue (of which only two were ever redeemed). However Jordan’s lawyers and endorsement history advise that he would not have accepted such a deal. Safeway believed this should be in the region of $126,900, more widely reported as closer to $500,000 from a licencing agreement which MJ held at one point over the last decade.

The argument posed by the athlete is that Jordan name is such a force in the marketing world that this requires a substantial rights fee, something he is keen to reinforce following a statement reporting an income of over $536 million in sponsorship alone from 2000 to 2012.

This is where Nike and other sponsors take interest.

As MJ and his legal team seek to prove how much an organisation typically purchases these rights leading to Judge John Blakely to rule that Nike and other sponsors must divulge their contracts to the court – something that they neither asked for, nor were keen to divulge to their competitors.

Despite being desperate to retain the fiscal anonymity within Michael Jordan’s contract, (a document so closely guarded reportedly only three member of staff have access and it is held in a separate area to all other contractual agreements at the Nike headquarters) the judge ruled this must be shown to the court.
The case is now settled with Safeway ordered to pay $8.6m in rights fees to Jordan, despite Michael expressing “it was never about the money”.

In the world of sponsorship it is always better to acquire those rights than use without permission – who knows it might just save you $8.1m in the long run.


Slingshot Sponsorship’s Very Own Jackie Fast Has Been Shortlisted For Small Business Entrepreneur Of The Year 26th October, 2015

Slingshot Sponsorship’s MD Jackie Fast has been shortlisted for a GB Entrepreneur Award after she was recognised at last year’s event for her success and achievements within the sponsorship industry.

Having started the company from her bedroom 5 years ago, Jackie has rapidly grown the agency to open three international offices, working with the world’s biggest clients. By focussing on a diverse clientele base, Jackie is pioneering the current development of sponsorship.

The Great British Entrepreneur Awards is the benchmark for entrepreneurial success, designed to celebrate the contribution of entrepreneurs to the UK economy. The awards seek to acknowledge and honour the individual, not the business, and in Jackie’s case; her hard work, creativity and energy she has drove into the creation of Slingshot Sponsorship.

Jackie stated; “I am delighted to be nominated for this award. The event itself celebrates entrepreneurship in the UK, which I am particularly proud to be associated with.”

The entrepreneur who wins Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year will have examples that show their resilience and fortitude in overcoming obstacles and difficulties to ensure a secure and growing success.

The GB Entrepreneur Awards will take place on 25th November at The Ballroom, Southbank.


Slingshot Sponsorship Shortlisted For Three ESA Excellence Awards 23rd October, 2015

Slingshot Sponsorship is delighted to announce that they have made the shortlist in the ESA Excellence Awards not just once, but three times. Against fierce competition with a significant increase in award entries this year, Slingshot have been shortlisted within the B2B Activation Award for their work in securing Hill Dickinson as a sponsor for GB Taekwondo, focussed on reinvigorating staff and driving revenue within law. As a reflection of their strong work with commercialising rights holders, they have been shortlisted for a further two entries within the Rights Holders Achievement Award for their work with the What Car Awards and Wales Rally GB.

Jackie Fast, Managing Director, Slingshot Sponsorship said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be shortlisted three times this year.  It’s a reflection of a lot of hard work within the agency as well as a lot of confidence from the clients we have been working with over the past couple of years.  It’s also an honor to be shortlisted against some great agencies and campaigns.  We are really looking forward to the event!”

The ESA Excellence Awards reward exceptional work created by sponsorship professionals across all of Europe and across a wide spectrum of sectors. These include sport, media, entertainment, culture, community and corporate responsibility. This year ESA has introduced a host of new categories to keep pace with the evolving way in which sponsorships are being used by marketers.

To book tickets for the Awards ceremony on Thursday 11 February, 2016, at Café de Paris, London, visit http://sponsorship.org/awards/ceremony/ .


Forbes Speaks to Slingshot Sponsorship MD Jackie Fast on her mission in the industry 22nd October, 2015

Forbes recently caught up with Slingshot Sponsorship’s MD Jackie Fast to discuss her journey through the sponsorship industry to date.  Insight on how to break into the sponsorship industry, what drives entrepreneurs, and how changing the model has helped to drive Slingshot’s client successes.

Read the full article on Forbes here.


Football clubs and brands: What’s the crucial ingredient for successful sponsorship? 29th September, 2015

When considering what brands to approach for sponsorship, brand values are a crucial ingredient for successful sponsorship. Football clubs, in particular, must be careful when aligning with brands who do not share similar values as the potential reaction to such deals can have far-reaching consequences and usually serve to widen the gap between board and fans. Without these shared values, football club-brand partnerships are susceptible to failure as the following three cases demonstrate.

Newcastle United & Wonga

One of the key issues at the heart of Newcastle fans’ disenchantment with Mike Ashley’s ownership dates back to 2012, when Wonga agreed a four-year £24m sponsorship deal with the club. Despite the brand making a promising start with the fans by returning the stadium name to St James Park as part of the deal, Wonga’s sponsorship of the club never achieved their aim of forging a reputation as a reputable company. As soon as the deal was agreed, the brand received an onslaught of criticism from fans, MPs and media commentators. This was followed by a stinging attack on the brand by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2013. The following year, Newcastle fans successfully lobbied the brand to remove their logo from children’s replica kits. Finally, during the climax of the 2015 league season, Wonga’s £40m financial losses were openly celebrated by fans on social media which capped a bad year for the brand when PR and branding agency, Aberfield Communications, labelled them the worst for fan engagement in the Premier League.

For sponsorship to be successful, both parties must have shared values. In Newcastle and Wonga’s case, it is clear the brand values of both organisations diverge significantly. Newcastle United is known for its ambition and integrity coupled with a passionate, loyal fan base. Wonga, on the other hand, has encountered numerous controversies since its incorporation in 2006 including the chasing of customers with fake law firms and targeting vulnerable individuals with high-interest short-term loans. Positive initiatives such as investment in the club’s academy and free ticket giveaways on Twitter have consequently not swayed fans towards a positive perception of the brand.

Bolton Wanderers & Quickquid

Another football club that has encountered issues with their shirt sponsor in recent years is Bolton Wanderers who signed a sponsorship deal with payday lender Quikquid in May 2013. However, by June 2013 the deal was terminated.

The £500K shirt deal almost immediately came under scrutiny from fans, who managed to amass 1900 signatures for a petition objecting to the deal. Their objections were upheld when the club decided to renege on the deal after a month. Bolton South East MP, Yasmin Qureshi, commented at the time: “It’s completely wrong. These companies prey on the vulnerable and they should be illegal.” After a month of backlash, the Bolton Wanderers board succumbed with technology firm Fibrlec eventually replacing the payday lenders on the front of the club’s shirt. Labour MPs Chris Evans and Stella Creasy applauded the move with fans agreeing that the sponsorship was not in keeping with Wanderer’s image as a community-based “family club”.

Bolton’s response to criticism of the deal differs markedly from Newcastle United, who, despite receiving a backlash over the Wonga deal, kept the brand as sponsor despite the unpopularity with fans. In Bolton’s case, the Quickquid sponsorship failed not only because of a lack of shared values, but the sum involved was low enough to prompt the board into action. If it had been worth the seven-figure sum as in Newcastle’s case, the deal most likely would have had greater success.

FC Barcelona & Qatar Foundation

In 2010, FC Barcelona agreed their first ever corporate shirt sponsor by signing a £25m 5-year deal with the Qatar Foundation. The deal was signed amid a period in which Barcelona’s debt had climbed to £370m, necessitating a deal that was the most lucrative shirt sponsorship in football history at the time. Despite the Qatar Foundation’s commitment to education rights in the Middle East as a non-profit body, the sponsorship was met with opposition. FC Barcelona fans accused the club of “selling the shirt” which had refused revenue from a corporate shirt sponsor for 113 years. Qatar still remains on the shirt today but as Qatar Airways, following an activation of a clause in the sponsorship agreement. However, its presence divides opinion. Sandro Rosell, the former President who signed the deal, resigned in 2013 partially as a result of its unpopularity.

The Barcelona-Qatar relationship had all the hallmarks of a successful sponsorship, yet, this never occurred. Despite the Qatar Foundation’s commitment to a virtuous cause, the association with Qatar, an absolutist monarchy, contrasts with the “People’s Club” philosophy. This refers to the fact Barcelona is a democratic club, owned by the fans, who are used to voting on key decisions, unlike employees from the Qatar Foundation. Furthermore, the association with Qatar’s unpopular World Cup bid was another factor that did not help foster a positive relationship.

The success of football club sponsorship is underpinned by strong shared values. Therefore, clubs must consider a brand or organisation’s past history and organisational makeup when searching for sponsorship. Regardless of whether a brand’s future activities have sound principles, past associations and controversies will skew fan and media perception. As a result, it is imperative they work with fan groups to negate any issues that may arise from pursuing deals with controversial sponsors.

@SimonBinks_


Slingshot Sponsorship’s MD Jackie Fast Expands Training Sessions to Singapore 22nd September, 2015

Slingshot Sponsorship’s MD Jackie Fast will be presenting a two day training course in Singapore on November 30th and December 1st with Marcus Evans. 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.

With the increase of digital and technology, a seismic shift has been created in the way consumers engage in the world around them – and this has a significant impact on brands and how brands utilise sponsorship to engage with their target audiences. Industry challenges can be addressed and deals done with a better understanding of sponsorship effectiveness than ever before.

Slingshot Sponsorship has successfully been a driving force within this new framework of sponsorship and this two day course will outline why traditional sponsorship practices no longer work in today’s industry. Slingshot will help you discover ground-breaking partnerships big or small, noble or novel, which are punching above their weight and measurably building businesses, brands and communities.

Key takeaways from the event will include:

  1. The New Benchmark: Why Are You Playing By Old Rules?
  2. Meaningful Marketing Mix: The New Heart of Corporation or Non-Profit Partnership
  3. Finding the Right Fit for Sponsorship: The Right Property to Maximise your Sponsorship Investment
  4. Captivating Ways to Create Values in Sponsorship
  5. Sponsorship Sales Contribution: Dynamically Embrace Reliable Results

Jackie Fast commented, “I am extremely thrilled to be coming to Singapore to present our agency’s framework for sustainable sponsorship for both rights holders and brands.  With an office in Singapore, we can help provide further support for our delegates in the long term so I am delighted to be able engage with the Singapore sponsorship industry.”

Be a part with other forward-thinking leaders to find new and emerging practices, insights and anecdotal sharing for succeeding in an industry where the only certainty is change.

To book your place please click here. 

 


Slingshot Sponsorship Shortlisted for Most Effective Sponsorship Activation 15th September, 2015

Slingshot Sponsorship has been shortlisted for the Most Effective Sponsorship Activation for their work with Ableton and the Knowledge Arena at Outlook Festival 2014 in the Field Marketing and Brand Experience Awards.  The category nominates those brand campaigns that were exceptional in any sector and the shortlist ranged from sport, music and B2B sponsorship activations.

Ableton is a Berlin-based music software company that produces and distributes the production of products and software controllers.  As the sponsor of the first ever Knowledge Arena at Outlook Festival, Ableton created a Show & Play Zone which was supported through significant artist content including round table discussions, forums, panels and a number of workshops.  This integration has provided a new stream of content for the festival, while providing unrivaled customer experience.

To watch the entry video click here.

This category was highly competitive with some of Europe’s leading sponsorship agencies such as Frukt Communications, Synergy Sponsorship and Wasserman Experience also being shortlisted.  To see the full list of shortlisted entries at the Field Marketing and Brand Experience Awards click here.

The winners will be announced at an Awards Ceremony held at The Troxy in London on October 22nd, 2015.

 


Long Live the King! Fast Food Brand Ambassadors Return Following Hiatus 7th September, 2015

Brand ambassadors have long been used by brands, however it is the return of a larger than life King that has drawn attention across the globe in recent months. Once over shadowed by the might of McDonalds’ Ronald McDonald character (named after former CEO and inventor of the wildly loved chicken nugget) the Burger King, King has returned!

Distinctive and instantly recognisable, standing at over 6 feet tall ‘The King’ has been sighted at various high profile events this summer including the 147th Belmont Stakes where he appeared with Triple Crown winning trainer Bob Bafferrt.

The King’s resurrection began at the start of the summer forming part of the entourage which escorted Floyd Mayweather to the ring during the ‘fight of the century’ against Manny Pacquiao in May this year.

Due to the furor of offenses and negative publicity following Floyd Mayweather in recent years, brands have been cautious to not align with the star; however reports have sited that Burger King purchased the rights for $1 million, becoming one of Mayweather’s first sponsors for some years (having topped the Sport Illustrated Fortune 50 athletes with $0 endorsement deals three times).

The mere sight of the brand ambassador in this setting created mass attention around Burger King. Social media interaction increased significantly creating over 1,343% growth interest for the brand. Yet not all interest was positive with many criticising Burger King for supporting the convicted domestic abuser across Twitter.

With Adweek reporting The King created over a weeks’ worth of publicity for Burger King simply by appearing in coverage of the ring walk with Floyd Mayweather perhaps this is the first in line for the fast food ambassadors – beware the return of The King, Ronald, and The Colonel.


Player Power – Athlete Success Impacts on Brand Fortunes 4th September, 2015

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 3rd September, 2015

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:

Morning

  • 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.

Afternoon

  • 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.

Night

  • 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 18th August, 2015

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 http://sponsorship.org/awards/awards-home/ 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: http://sponsorship.org/awards/awards-home/

Full details of the new Award categories can be viewed here: http://sponsorship.org/awards/categories

For information on how to enter the Awards: http://sponsorship.org/awards/how-to-enter

To purchase a table for the Awards ceremony, please visit: https://billetto.co.uk/en/events/esa-excellence-awards (UK Sterling payments) or https://billetto.eu/en/events/esa-excellence-awardseu (Euro payments)

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

 


Sponsorship Sales Basic Series – Part Two: The Three As to Building a Package 17th August, 2015

 

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 12th August, 2015

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 11th August, 2015

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 11th August, 2015

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 7th August, 2015

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 WalesRallyGB.com website.

For further updates, follow Wales Rally GB on Twitter @walesrallygb or join the conversations on Facebook at www.facebook.com/walesrallygb.

 


Hyundai Motor UK is Official Car Partner to Wales Rally GB 31st July, 2015

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 walesrallygb.com 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 www.walesrallygb.com website.


How Under Armour Delivered a Champion 30th July, 2015

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.


Sky & British Cycling – When It Pays To Put All Of Your Eggs In One Basket 29th July, 2015

Fresh from the saddle of my first Sky Ride and currently in awe of the (super) human feat by Chris Froome in the Tour de France, I thought this the perfect moment to celebrate the partnership between Sky & British Cycling and question what’s next for both properties.

Since its inception in 2008, Sky’s partnership with British Cycling has been embodied across multiple areas of the business from staff engagement cycling events to wider reaching Sky Rides and the global media machine which is Team Sky. Sky’s involvement was initially seen as a revelation in the industry, only to be further magnified by the venture into Team Sky, with mass plaudits following shortly behind.

Hitting the targets of the partnership over a year ahead of schedule, Sky delivered over a million more regular cyclists across the UK and a British winner of the Tour de France. Now Sky is seen as an industry leader in cycling across all levels from the elite to mass participation with cycling becoming the epicentre of Sky’s engagement both internally and externally.

The announcement earlier this year that Sky will end the partnership with British Cycling in 2016 created a shock throughout the media. With such success and over delivery on the partnership, many have expressed an uncertainty about what will follow. Despite the decision to part been reached “amicably” as British Cycling’s chief executive Ian Drake advised, the challenge for British Cycling will be to find a partner that offers the same level of support as Sky for the long term.

The question which forms much speculation is what the focus of Sky’s next partnership will be. After all, people generally advise not to put all of your eggs in one basket – following Sky’s success with British Cycling, only time will tell if they choose to do so again.


Understanding Sponsorship’s Evolution Will Help You Capitalise 28th July, 2015

Sponsorship is not a new concept.  It originally dates back to 776 BC to the first Olympic Games held in Greece with wealthy citizens and local governments providing financial support to build awareness of their cities.  Sponsorship continued in this way until 1984, when the Los Angeles Olympics redefined sponsorship to the world by selling the Olympic symbols to brands.  With 43 major sponsors stepping forward, the Olympic Games made a profit of $225million and a new wave of sponsorship profitability ensued based on logo and brand recall.

Since then, sponsorship has undergone many shifts with partnerships becoming less about the logo and more about engagement.  Without engagement, brand sponsorship fails to resonate with consumers who are constantly bombarded with messages in our digital revolution.

The three key shifts of evolution with sponsorship:

1.  Sponsorship should be used by every organisation

When sponsorship is used with both creative and commercial objectives at the core, opportunities for this type of partnership benefit all organisations – no matter how big or small you are.  Small businesses particularly benefit for sponsorship as the impact on maximising commercial revenue tends to be greater.  However, the one challenge for small businesses undertaking or integrating sponsorship is not understanding their value beyond a logo.  When identifying the partnership USP is so vital, it is crucial to understand what assets they have and are prepared to offer for their partners.

2.  Sponsorship should not be seen as a monitory transaction in exchange for a logo

By uncovering your business assets correctly, you will be able to show potential sponsors what you can provide allowing you to approach sponsors by creating a business proposition rather than just awareness. Furthermore, looking at sponsorship benefits outside of logos can create partnerships with organisations you may not have approached before.

3.  Sponsorship provides brands personality

Sponsorship gives life to a brand providing brand character and differentiating it from its competitors. By partnering with sponsors who share the same values as your brand you will expose your brand to a broader audience and leave a lasting impression with that audience.

David Verklin, CEO of Carat USA once said, “Sponsorship shows respect to a viewer by not taking advantage of something that they involuntary give up – their time and attention.”

Sponsorship continues to evolve and by keeping ahead of these shifting concepts ensures you will continue to add value to your sponsors and continue to secure sponsorship funding for your organisation.  However, much of the information you can gather online is not as practically implementable or easily understood as it may seem.

By getting expert advice in this area, you can ensure you are not wasting time by trial and error.  As such, Slingshot Sponsorship has recently launched a monthly sponsorship training event which provides organisations with the tools to approach sponsorship from a forward-thinking and creative standpoint. If you would like to become part of the evolution of sponsorship attend a Sessions at our Slingshot’s London head office. One of our senior consultants will provide you with all the tools necessary to capitalise on your commercial potential.

To find out more about our sponsorship sessions please click here or call the Slingshot Head Office:  +44 (0) 20 226 5052.


Slingshot Sponsorship’s MD Jackie Fast Goes Down Under 16th July, 2015

Slingshot Sponsorship’s MD Jackie Fast will be presenting a two day training course in Sydney, Australia on October 27th and 28th with Marcus Evans. 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.

With the increase of digital and technology, this has created a seismic shift in the way consumers engage in the world around them – and this has a significant impact on brands and how brands utilise sponsorship to engage with their target audiences.  Slingshot have successfully been a driving force within this new framework of sponsorship and this two day course will show you why traditional sponsorship practices no longer work in today’s industry.

Key takeaways from the event will include:

  • Understanding the new rules of sponsorship
  • Incorporating social media and digital technology to enhance sponsorship activity
  • Learning how sponsorship can grow your business, not just your commercial bottomline
  • Elaborating the market trends on sponsorship sectors including sport, arts, music, conferences and CSR
  • Maximising your true potential

Jackie Fast commented, “I am extremely thrilled to be coming to Australia to present our agency’s framework for sustainable sponsorship for both rights holders and brands.  With an office in Singapore, we can help provide further support our attendees in the long term so I am thrilled to be able to come down and start engaging with the Australian sponsorship industry.”

For more information or to book your place please click here. 


How to Capitalise on Sponsorship 14th July, 2015

One of the most common mistakes brands make when entering sponsorship is expecting that by simply aligning their name and logo with a property the ROI will come. Many brands spend a great deal of time planning and selecting which sponsorship would be most beneficial for their business but once the deal has been signed, brands should focus their efforts into making sure they capitalise on the sponsorship.

Create your own noise

A key reason why brands are often unsuccessful in sponsorship is because they fail to capitalise on the opportunities afforded to them once the deal has been signed. Brands spend months analysing the assets of a property and at the point of the handshake it is then up to the brand to exhaust all assets available to them. Unfortunately, a common trend is that sponsors expect the rights holder to create the ‘noise’ during the partnership – this is not always the case. There is a responsibility on the rights holder to support as much as they can, but it is not the rights holders’ primary focus to truly create the impact. Communications of the brand to the audience should be collaborated on rather than isolated to create the best outcome.

Save budget for activation

Another common error is that sponsors spend the entirety of their budget on the sponsorship fee, leaving no additional budget for brand activation during the partnership, therefore brands are unable to capitalise on the opportunities available to them. In essence, the sponsorship fee is the price for rights to utilise the assets. As part of the planning phase sponsors should weigh up the potential costs involved in order to take advantage of the assets e.g. entertaining, promotional products and activation costs. Sponsors must take this into account before committing to any sponsorship or risk an ineffective investment.

Experiment and be creative

The majority of brands stick to what they know best. If a brand continues a one dimensional approach to sponsorship and fails to experiment with different properties and channels they will inevitably miss out on opportunities to progress and reach new audiences. Sponsors should always make use of every vehicle available to them. Through the use of analytics and measurement tools, brands can now assess their success post sponsorship better than ever – considering a property is only as good as its assets, a brands’ success alongside that property is only as good as their determination to make the best use out of the assets purchased.


When Bigger Isn’t Better – Challenger Properties Offering Sponsors Value for Money 13th July, 2015

Amongst the fall-out from the recent FIFA investigations, a number of brands expressed concern at being involved with the prestigious global property. Should those brands re-evaluate their sponsorship, they may well be inclined to look at a lower profile alternative – a challenger property with a solid foundation, set to ascend further into the public eye.

Lower profile properties allow sponsors to have greater access, less risk and a greater opportunity to tailor their involvement helping to facilitate a more integrated partnership with the rights-holder.

An example of this is one of Slingshot’s client’s GB Taekwondo, one of the shining lights of Team GB and golden hopes of Rio 2016. Established in 2002, the team has grown substantially in recent years developing into a team of 27 full time athletes including a school outreach programme, UK hosted international and domestic championships and a clear pathway to Olympic success.

The team has captured medals at the Olympics, World Grand Prix and most recently conquered at the World Championships where Bianca Walkden and Damon Sansum claimed Gold & Silver medals  respectively resulting in national media coverage across the BBC and ITV. Jade Jones also clinched Gold at the inaugural European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Tasting Success

With a challenger rights-holder such as GB Taekwondo the team offers sponsors an extremely flexible and personal platform to associate the brand – reaching multiple objectives in the business.

Hill Dickinson the law firm (a partner of the team since 2014) is a prime example of a company who has leveraged their partnership to great effect, creating tangible new business opportunities, cross company staff engagement and accomplishing multiple CSR objectives within the firm.

The firm was provided such flexibility due to the aligned core objectives of both parties. The team and athletes understood Hill Dickinson’s key objectives and helped facilitate this through their own understanding of their assets – a proactive approach not often taken with some of the more established rights holders. Through this sponsorship, staff have created lasting relationships with Olympic athletes which have grown and developed on the Road to Rio 2016 creating a more holistic partnership than mere branding or hospitality.

Future Opportunities

With challenger properties, brands have the opportunity to truly partner with the right-holders. Enabling the opportunity to reach success across company objectives with smaller companies who may believe sponsorship is out of their budget.

As the property evolves as will the partnership and fees associated. The brand’s objectives and focus will adapt, changing in tune to the success – reaping the rewards on their modest outlay with increased PR, awareness and opportunities. When working in this manner, sponsors find the ROI clear to see with such a cross section of involvement at all levels.

Act now!

In the Road to the Rio Olympics, now is the time to consider how lower profile sporting properties could significantly benefit brands – without the price tag of sponsoring the Olympics.

The GB Taekwondo team has a calendar for 2015/2016 including the World Championships, Baku 2015 European Games, World Grand Prix, the Road to Rio and the crowning glory of the Olympics. Now is the perfect time to engage to access Olympic benefits leading in to Rio 2016, supporting your business objectives over the long term.

*Partnership opportunities are available with both team level with GB Taekwondo, and at the World Grand Prix held on the 16th -18th October 2015 at Sportscity Manchester.


Slingshot Sponsorship secures Dailymotion as Official Media Partner for both Outlook and Dimension Festivals 3rd July, 2015

Slingshot Sponsorship has signed Dailymotion as Official Media Partner for Outlook Festival and Dimensions Festival.

This is a partnership with vast potential. The two festivals, Outlook (2-6 September) and Dimensions (26-30 August) feature performances from hundreds of artists across multiple stages located in diverse settings including a moat, a Roman amphitheatre and numerous boat parties, which sets the scene for some unique content, not only for people unable to attend the festivals, but also for festivalgoers to share during and after the festivals. 

Dailymotion is one of the world’s biggest video platforms, and the most popular European site – across all categories – in the world according to comScore. The partnership will include a significant live stream element, in addition to seeded video content than the entire year.

Marc Eychenne, VP of Dailymotion, said:

“We are delighted to be working with Outlook and Dimensions. For years, we have been working with music festivals to develop their online reach through livestreaming or more short form content. Last year’s Dimensions opening concert with Caribou was a massive success on our platform and that’s why we’re excited to further develop a working relationship. Both festivals will bring great music experiences to our audience and attract new viewers to Dailymotion.”

Jackie Fast, MD, Slingshot Sponsorship, said:

“Outlook & Dimensions Festivals are truly unique and amass a huge following worldwide.  The partnership with Dailymotion not only supports this audience growth, but provides both festivals the opportunity to continually engage with their artists, advocates, and fans outside of the attendance of the festivals themselves.”



Sponsorship Sales Basics – Part One: “It’s Not My Proposal, It’s My Lack of Contacts” 26th June, 2015

We have been running a monthly event at our Head Office since December (find our next Sessions event) 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.

 

The one thing I hear quite often is that the lack of success in sponsorship sales has nothing to do with the capability, the product or the proposal – but rather, because they just don’t have the contacts.

Opportunities that are truly great opportunities for a company and are communicated well will get noticed within any business.  It is quite easy to make excuses for lack of sponsorship sales from junior sales teams because they just don’t know the right people, when in actual fact the problem lies not in their little black book, but their inexperience at understanding the true proposition between your organisation and the prospect’s strategy.

With the right proposal, right property, to the right brand – there is no sale.

Far too often a significant amount of investment is spent in sponsorship taking sales training courses and the creation of tools to support the value such as media research – without actually addressing the real issues.  Media results and training are incredibly useful tools for a sponsorship team, but if the people generating the leads don’t understand why they are making the approach, these tools become useless.

The 5 Top Tips of Prospecting for Sponsorship:

  1. Know your USP – what makes you a more viable sponsorship opportunity than your competitor
  2. Stop contacting the Big 5 just because you’ve seen their logo on other sponsorship campaigns: HSBC, Barclays, Coca-Cola, Google, and Emirates. This is not a good enough reason to be contacting them.
  3. Know your prospect’s challenges and understand why you can help them when no one else can.
  4. The sponsorship needs to work on a number of levels across a brand’s business – so understand how this will impact and support wider business objectives.
  5. Stop randomly contacting people in hopes that someone will read your proposal. Within any Marketing Director’s job description nowhere does it ever read “to read over 12,000 proposals, feedback to each person who has submitted something, and then find one that works for the business”.

Join Our Webinar – we’ll teach you how to get the right sponsorship 19th June, 2015

At Slingshot Sponsorship we’ve already helped dozens of companies find the right commercial partners. Whether it’s to help them grow, reach a bigger audience, or simply make a project a success, there’s one common theme: we find clients the right, long-term partners.

At the root of it, that’s what Slingshot Sponsorship does differently.

To get there, our clients normally go through our intensive Bootcamp. But we want more businesses and individuals to benefit from the Slingshot approach.

So, working with our friends at Monkfeet, we’re launching our first webinar.

Looking from the perspectives of both attracting and proposing sponsorship, we’ll take you through:

  • Tricks and tips for making the most of sponsorship opportunities
  • How to form valuable marketing and marketing partnerships
  • Understanding your proposition
  • How to write a sponsorship proposal
  • How to navigate the sponsorship sales process

This 55-minute online course might be the best £25 you’ll ever spend. Book now!

We’re also hosting in-person, in-depth sponsorship workshops at Monkfeet: take a look at our courses.


Snozone appoints Slingshot Sponsorship to reinvent its commercial strategy 12th June, 2015

Snozone, the indoor Snowsports destination and unique training ground for skiing and snowboarding has announced the appointment of Slingshot Sponsorship as its commercial partner to recruit fresh, like-minded brand partners across events, sponsorship and hospitality.

Slingshot Sponsorship will work with Snozone to evolve their commercial strategy reflecting Snozone’s brand values and vision.

Elena Kale, Snozone’s Group Commercial manager said:

‘We are delighted to have Slingshot on board as our commercial partner. We’re convinced Slingshot will add to the continued success of growing our brand and taking us into new markets, inspiring a whole new audience for whom Snowsports can be their sport of choice.

We’re open 364 day a year and we believe Snowsports should be accessible to everyone regardless of their ability- all year round– and not just seen as a seasonal activity. We are firmly committed to position Snowsports as truly a sport for all.’

Jackie Fast, MD at Slingshot Sponsorship, said:

“Snozone is an exciting property in the market and illustrates how more organisations are utilising sponsorship to not only increase their bottom line, but also how partnerships can be facilitated across a business to amplify other core business activities.  We can’t wait to start developing these types of partnerships across the business.”


Are Live Broadcast Apps a Threat To Official Broadcast Rights? 17th June, 2015

The advance of technology has been incredible in terms of driving the sponsorship model, broadening audiences, and supporting more creative sponsorship campaigns that truly engage the audience.  On the whole, rights holders have an unquenchable thirst for understanding how new technologies can help them deliver better sponsorship.

However, most recently, this has shifted due to a number of apps that have been launched that turn your mobile into a web-cam enabling consumers, attendees and fans the ability to broadcast whatever content they are consuming live to the rest of the world.

Even in light of content being shared and distributed in a multitude of forms now, broadcasters still harness and ultimately own the live experience – understanding that the real experience is enriched by people en mass experiencing it all together.  This has been capitalised and then monetised to support a significant portion of the commercial revenue with more widespread sports.

However, with live broadcasting apps such as Meerkat and Periscope now sharing this experience for free (albeit without the production value), rights holders are becoming increasingly wary of their core revenue stream being cannibalised. And it’s not just sports rights holders that need to be concerned, many of the top viewing figures through these apps also feature the latest episode of Game of Thrones.

In light of the threats, there are also a significant amount of benefits from the development of live broadcasting apps and include:

  1. Fan engagement: Fans should be encouraged to take videos, before during and after sporting events tagging the team in the post. Giving fans around the world a real account of what it is like to be in the stadium/arena watching their favourite team. This content can support the wider broadcasting content by featuring behind-the-scenes exclusives and tailored content that wouldn’t necessarily be broadcast to the general public.
  2. Increased marketing opportunities: Brands can use live broadcasting apps to connect with consumers in real-time, enhancing their experience.
  3. New rights: Artist and player rights differ between archived footage and live streaming footage – often offering much more flexibility for live-streaming content.  This provides great opportunities to deliver unique and sought-after content for consumers than previously possible.
  4. Increased exposure: Smaller teams/events/charities now have the opportunity to broadcast their team’s performance to the world much more easily than ever before.
  5. Cost effective: Live streaming can be a significant drain on an event’s budget; however, by utilising apps in clever ways, you can reap the benefits without the significant risk and financial investment.

Regardless of your take on whether live broadcasting apps are a threat or an opportunity, they clearly represent a shift in the way consumers engage with content – which is critical in an industry that is all about the audience.


Time – the Key Component for Success in Sponsorship Sales 5th June, 2015

Historically, the premise of a sponsorship deal was a logo on a shirt or a banner at an event arranged overnight. However, the way brands use sponsorship has evolved, working much harder to make a greater impact with a reduced budget. The experience is fundamental for brands now more than ever; therefore, sponsorship professionals must adapt the way they sell to brands. Time is of the essence.

Sponsors endeavour to exhaust all opportunities available to them and meticulously plan their campaigns; therefore the greater period of time given to a sponsor prior to an event, the more valuable the sponsorship can become. With regards to the major sporting event of 2015, the Rugby World Cup; Heineken have stated that the tournament will be their “biggest marketing platform of the year” in a deal announced prior to the finish of the 2011. Emirates have also have signed a deal well in advance of the event which takes place in 2019. In both cases the companies committed to the tournament over 4 years in advance. To allow sponsors the time to fully exploit the opportunities afforded to them, the Rugby World Cup sponsorship sales team would likely have begun devising a sales strategy 5 years in advance from the tournament. If time is critical for sponsors, it is even more so for ones trying to sell it.

Sponsorship sales teams should follow a crucial 5 step process before approaching brands:

5 Step Process

  1. Analyse the market – The start point for any sponsorship deal. Identify the key trends, how active and more importantly, how saturated the market is.
  2. Research the competition – Dig deep into your competitors. Analyse what’s good, what’s bad and apply those points to your property.
  3. Value – Uncover all possible assets of your property and your unique selling points. Using the two previous steps you should be able to provide a justifiable fee.
  4. Prospecting – Identify a number of brands who could benefit from the sponsorship. Have a clear reason of why you are approaching each brand. If you cannot find a reason, take them off the list.
  5. Tailor proposals – Condense your property into a tailored, informative proposal that will catch the eye of a marketing director, intriguing them to put yours top of their pile.

Although this process is time consuming, when done correctly, it is critical for success. Many sponsorship professionals lose out because they do not leave themselves enough time to carry out these crucial steps before approaching brands. In order to be successful in sponsorship sales you need to set targets for each component of the process to be finalised, don’t linger, don’t relax, and above all don’t waste time.


London 2012 Olympic Taekwondo champion named as Baku 2015 European Games ambassador 12th February, 2015

Slingshot Sponsorship’s client GB Taekwondo has just announced that Olympic Gold Medalist Jade Jones will be an international Athlete Ambassador for this summer’s inaugural Baku 2015 European Games.

Ms Jones became Great Britain’s first-ever Taekwondo gold medalist at London 2012, with victory in the 57kg weight division.

She also won silver at the 2011 World Taekwondo Championships in Gyeongju, South Korea, and picked up another silver medal at the 2014 European Taekwondo Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, last May.

Mr Simon Clegg, Chief Operating Officer of Baku 2015, said: “To be able to name a reigning Olympic champion as a Baku 2015 ambassador is a fantastic achievement for the first European Games and a testament to the calibre of athletes that the event will attract.

“I am sure Jade will very much enjoy promoting the Games in Great Britain through her role as an international Athlete Ambassador, and we hope to see her give a memorable performance in Baku this summer.”

Baku 2015 international Athlete Ambassadors will represent their sports and feature in extensive marketing campaigns around the continent and on social media to promote the first European Games.

Ms Jones, 21, said: “I am very proud to have been named as a Baku 2015 Athlete Ambassador, and it will be an honour to help promote the Games. It is important for European athletes to have our own multi-sport event, and my aim is to become the first European Games Taekwondo champion.”

Mr Mark England, the British Olympic Association’s Chef de Mission for Baku 2015, said: “Jade’s participation as a Baku 2015 international Athlete Ambassador reflects British athletes’ enthusiasm for the European Games. Britain has a strong sporting tradition, and the Athlete Ambassador programme will help to generate interest and excitement in the country ahead of Baku 2015.”

Ms Jones joins French rhythmic gymnast Kseniya Moustafaeva, Denmark’s canoe sprinter René Holten Poulsen and Serbia’s Basketball 3×3 team of Dušan Domović Bulut, Marko Savic, Marko Zdero and Dejan Majstorovic as Baku 2015 international Athlete Ambassadors, with more to be announced in the near future.


How Small Businesses Can Maximise Sponsorship Potential in 2015 15th January, 2015

*This article was originally published on Smarta

Sponsorship isn’t just for Premier League football clubs – and despite what the front covers of newspapers might tell you, it can actually be more impactful for small businesses if you do it well. Jackie Fast, founder of Slingshot Sponsorship, has worked with big brands across the globe and the entrepreneur gives her 5 tips for securing sponsorship this year.

The benefit of being a small business in 2015 is that you have many more sponsorship assets that you can work with than ever previously, allowing you to create more sponsorship packages, additional value, and ultimately driving more revenue to your bottom line.

Here are my top 5 tips for securing sponsorship successful in 2015:

1. Don’t Just Think Money

There is a big misconception that sponsorship is a cash transaction. However, a lot of sponsorship is done through contra agreements or value-in-kind. You can significantly decrease expenses by partnering with experts in the form of Venue Sponsors, Photography Sponsors, Branding Sponsors, PR Agency Sponsors, etc.  Have a look at what is costing you the most and if your audience is of value, then there is an opportunity to work more collaboratively with your suppliers.

2. Think Outside of the Box for Contra Deals

Sponsorship can also expand activity you are doing, which may lead to an increase in sponsorship. For example, many smaller businesses do not have the expertise, resource, or money to be as digitally savvy as they wish they were. However, by partnering with other digital firms or technology products, you may be able to incorporate more digital based services or products which may help increase your core revenue stream.

3. Consider Being A Sponsor

Most small businesses rarely consider sponsorship as part of their marketing mix as they feel that sponsorship is only for big business. However, securing sponsorship rights can also be done on a contra deal and can greatly increase your marketing activity with minimal cost.

4. Don’t Forget Your Audience

Sponsorship isn’t just about money, sponsorship is about creating a partnership which provides mutual benefits for both parties. You need to understand your audience as well as the audience you are going after before you start considering how to create a partnership.  The better understanding of audiences and how those businesses can work together, the stronger and more sustainable your sponsorship will be.

5. Get Help

Sponsorship isn’t rocket science, but it also requires more than just going out and doing it. You don’t want to burn bridges and equally you don’t want to waste time, so some advice can help you get there much quicker than going it alone.  Read blogs and articles, attend sponsorship conferences and events, or get training (check out Slingshot’s Bootcamp or Sponsorship Sessions!).

You can network with Jackie by following her on Twitter


How Fashion Can Truly Embrace the Digital Age through Sponsorship 13th January, 2015

Developments in technology have provided the fashion world with an opportunity to increase sales with the capability to now target consumers in the palms of their hands.  Collaborations between businesses as diverse as Burberry and Twitter demonstrate the extent to which fashion labels are utilising technology to drive sales and communicate brand values, which promises to increase creativity and innovation within this industry farther than ever been made possible previously.

Our top 3 fashion-tech fusions:

1.  Google+ x Topshop

Topshop’s Unique AW13 show was one of the most innovative fashion shows to date. The collaboration with Google+ made the show an experience shared and enjoyed by a much wider audience, virtually placing them on the front row – proving that as long as you’ve got the internet you can access all areas without having to leave the house. The show was characterised through the way in which it was marketed, involving a wide audience through digitalising every aspect of a traditional fashion show. Consumers were able to buy any item from a model’s outfit right down to the nail polish. As well as being able to start online discussions with buyers, designers and editors using the Google Hangouts helping to drive revenue of products, the collaboration drove a significant amount of consumer engagement for both partners involved following the show.

2.  Vodafone x Richard Nicoll

For the Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter ’12 fashion weeks, Richard Nicoll was sponsored by Vodafone to bring functionality to fashion and allow Vodafone to support British design, whilst targeting an industry with high digital activity. The collaboration produced a truly pioneering fashion product – a luxurious designer handbag that charges your phone – perfect for people on the go! This was a product the fashion industry had not seen previously and having only launched in 2012, it was ahead of its time.  Nicoll and Vodafone created something which had a sense of necessity, making consumers question design as well as design collaboration with technology – inspiring other designers to follow suit.

3.  Twitter x Burberry 

Twitter began its venture into e-commerce with the addition of a ‘buy button’, a simple, accessible feature that could increase sales by enabling users to immediately buy an item directly from a firm’s tweet. This tool both diversifies and increases Twitter’s revenue streams by becoming a platform and conduit for online shopping.  Burberry recognised Twitter’s potential and became the first to utilise this feature at its Autumn/Winter ’13 show, allowing consumers to simply touch the icon and have the desired product delivered straight to the billing address set up on their Twitter account. The collaboration of Burberry and Twitter was an experiment for both businesses and sets an example for other brands to consider how to maximise the potential of online networks to drive sales.


Slingshot Sponsorship Launch Full Day Training Events in London 12th January, 2015

Slingshot Sponsorship is delighted to announce that they have expanded their popular Slingshot Sponsorship Bootcamp training to also now provide full day, in-depth Sponsorship Sessions held each month in London.  The sole aim of the Sponsorship Sessions will be to provide teams the necessary tools to increase their commercial capacity within sponsorship for their event, charity, start-up, association, sports team, or online network.

Most organisations fail to reach their full sponsorship potential due to common pitfalls.  By working in a small team, industry expert Jackie Fast (MD of Slingshot Sponsorship) will create a tailored training programme for each attendee in order to help pinpoint challenges and create strategies and tools to overcome them.

Jackie Fast commented: “Unfortunately, typical sponsorship training and education often fails to address the different challenges organisations face when tackling sponsorship.  To be successful, one needs to really question these variables in order to recommend the right sponsorship strategy.  The Sponsorship Sessions allow us to do this by working in very small groups with a format that encompasses absolutely everything teams need to learn to truly develop commercially.  The success we have had with our training programme has even shocked me – having helped raise £1.27m additional sponsorship revenue for our attendees in the last three years alone.  Having kept our Bootcamp under wraps previously, I am absolutely thrilled to be bringing this training scheme out to the masses!”

The Sponsorship Sessions combine the need for high level training at the cost of attending a sponsorship conference (£219/ticket) – ensuring that attendees walk away with a clear direction on how to build the right sponsorship programme for their own organisation.

Previous Slingshot Sponsorship Bootcamp attendee Charlene Asamoah, Corporate Fundraising Manager from Parkinson’s UK commented: “It was absolutely amazing bringing Slingshot Sponsorship to Parkinson’s UK and I truly believe it was one of the best things I have done whilst working here.  Our entire team have changed dramatically and it’s all for the better!”

The next Slingshot Sponsorship Session will take place on Thursday 22nd January.  More information on the agenda and booking can be found here.  Or please contact Slingshot directly at Sessions@slingshotsponsorship.com

To read some testimonials from previous Slingshot Sponsorship Bootcamp attendees click here.


Future Predictions for the Sponsorship Industry 2015 7th January, 2015

Following a fantastic 2014, the entire Slingshot team is gearing up to embrace 2015.  With a number of new exciting clients to kick the year off including Wales Rally GB, Ideas Britain, and the Chartered Institute of Marketing – we can’t wait to get started!

Another great thing about 2015 is that we are expecting a significant amount of change – both for our own agency as well as the industry as a whole.  This has been brought about by a shift that has been discussed at length for years, but is actually starting to take place.

  1. More Confusion on What Sponsorship Is:  The age old argument of ‘sponsorship’ vs ‘partnership’ has evolved.  It is no longer an argument about semantics, but rather an argument about what sponsorship actually is.  One of my favourite things to ask people who work in sponsorship (especially at sponsorship conferences) is what their definition of sponsorship is.  It is astounding how so many people have such different definitions when pressed for specifics.  Most people can spout the typical ‘partnership’ speak, but when queried on specific campaigns (typically digital based) they trip up on whether they believe that is sponsorship or some other type of marketing/advertising.  As the lines get more blurred, the value of understanding becomes greater.  Which leads me on to my second prediction…
  2. Sponsorship Education and Sponsorship Training Will Be Desperately Sought After: Whether in the form of great content online or in books, taught at conferences or through webinars, or consultancy in the form of course training or at Slingshot Sponsorship’s one day Bootcamp, people are trying to get to grips with what to do, and how to do it better.  Through our own sponsorship training sessions alone, we have seen interest in sponsorship training double within the last 3 months.  While this is due to increased confusion on what sponsorship is, it’s also driven due to the fact that it is becoming harder to understand how to make money from it.
  3. New Sponsorship Agencies Will Crop Up: Sponsorship is becoming more diverse and it takes specialists who truly understand how to harness this commercial value to maximise it.  No longer is sponsorship confined to agencies helping out with Olympic sponsorship applications or designing sponsorship proposals, industry professionals are becoming driving forces within the overall business.  And because of this, more diverse and specialist sponsorship agencies and professionals are required to fill this need.
  4. The Value of Sponsorship Services Will Increase: Although there is increased confusion about what sponsorship actually is, the value of doing it well is becoming much clearer with better measurement tools, better purchasing behaviour, smarter activation, and clear demonstration of ROI.  When done well, sponsorship can be transformational – and when you can do this, your value is apparent and worth much more.
  5. Digital Agencies Will Sneak Up Around Sponsorship: The industry has still yet to get to grips with digital and its implications on how brands influence consumer purchase behaviour.  Although there are a few brands who are doing this well, on the whole it is being ignored or undervalued within the sponsorship mix.  Digital agencies are hungry to get more involved within their brands business and regardless of skill set, are actively pitching for sponsorship business by showcasing smart digital activations.  This poses a real threat to our industry.

Whatever the future holds for you this year, the entire Slingshot Sponsorship Team wish you a successful one!



In the world of sponsorship, bigger isn’t always better 5th December, 2014

Throughout the year there have once again been rumblings that the NBA (United States National Basketball Association) are set to announce the opportunity for sponsors to appear on team jerseys for the first time. The cost of this 2½ inch by 2½ inch spot – an estimated $100 million. Whilst this might appear to be an excellent opportunity for sponsors there is the potential for oversight. Brands often strive for the largest assets with a ‘bigger the better’ focus without fully equating how this will impact the brand or the potential response from the public, instead of looking to maximise their current rights.

Rarely do sponsors fully utilise the assets available to them. There are a wealth of activations available to engage with their audience yet for many these remain unused, mostly due to a lack of creativity.

The All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team was at the centre of a similar occurrence in recent years. As the most successful national rugby team on the planet with perhaps the most iconic jersey, which has always been sponsor clean (barring the small placement of Stienlager during part of the 90’s); a fact that filled fans with immense pride.

However this all changed in 2012 when AIG confirmed its place as Major Global Sponsor of the All Blacks. Included within this multi-million pound deal was the prime of place upon the legendary All Blacks shirt for the first time ever. On the one hand a ground breaking coup for AIG, yet the public outcry was huge with many New Zealanders speaking of boycotting AIG’s services, creating substantial adverse PR for the brand globally. This was not seen as a sponsor utilising an asset but instead a brand defacing that famous jersey.

Despite the fact that AIG used a logo 2/3 smaller than the norm this was not enough to dissipate the fallout. If the badging was crucial to AIG’s sponsorship (almost all other All Black’s sponsors have managed without this) they may have done more to quell the public’s uproar. They had the opportunity to engage with fans and to ask them how best the logo might be displayed on the jersey – allowing the fans to feel as though they were consulted on the matter, sparing some of the fallout.

One of the most severe effects from this may well have been the effect on AIG’s revenue. Not considering the additional sponsor fee for the badging opportunity, the impact from the boycotting of services and negative PR will have taken an impact on the businesses bottom line – one of the very things the sponsorship aimed to increase.

Ironically, the All Blacks was also one of the best utilisation of assets provided – by cereal brand Weet-Bix. As a long standing sponsor of the New Zealand rugby team (12 years), Weet-Bix took the opportunity to be creative with the assets they held rights to instead of opening the cheque book to acquire more branding.  Parents were encouraged to visit the Weet-Bix website and enter their child’s birth date.  Birthday cards were sent to the children with personalised messages ‘signed’ by the New Zealand players.

Weet-bix provides a prime example for how a sponsor can maximise the rights available to them. Electing to take a creative approach instead of opting for a badging the brand engaged emotionally with over two million people in New Zealand building the brand message, providing emotive moments for children and parents alike.

Whilst the drivers behind each brands’ sponsorship of the All Blacks may have been different, Weet-Bix shows how creatively utilising sponsorship rights can maximum emotional benefit instead of seeking bigger brand visibility and badging.

For all brands that are considering that $100 million NBA outlay, more consideration needs to be made on maximising current rights available, better engagement with a fanatical audience, and how to truly align with the sport to drive emotional buy-in.


Identifying Potential in the Barclays Premier League’s Transfer Window 26th November, 2014

It’s not even December and the rumour mill is in full flow regarding the opening of the Barclays Premier League’s January transfer window. Already dominating football-related conversations in pubs and bars across the UK, can we take a leaf out of our American counterparts’ book and capitalise on this excitement?  

Football is right at the epicentre of British culture. With revenue reaching €3 billion last year in the UK alone, it comes as no surprise that brands have attached themselves to every perceived point of value, from stadium naming rights to TV ad spots.

The Potential

With speculation rising as to how teams are aiming to strengthen through the mid-season transfer window, it seems an apt time to discuss the potential of the transfer market as a whole. As of the launch of Sky Sports News HQ in August this year, ‘Deadline Day’ is gaining traction and fast becoming a staple in the diets of football fans across the UK. As we saw last autumn, the transfer window offers a unique opportunity for brands to both reach and engage with their core audience in the off-season.

Furthermore, transfer deadline day is impossible to miss on social media. This year, Radamel Falcao’s switch from Monaco to Manchester United sparked a surge on Twitter with his name being mentioned over 1.6 million times before the window had even closed. Above all else, this clearly demonstrates the active participation of viewers.

The market is growing too, in just the last decade, due to the influx of wealthy overseas owners, English clubs have increased their spending in the transfer market from a combined £265million to £835million.

One of the challenges that we face is that in its current form, transfer deadline day is actually pretty dull; moments of excitement are surrounded with hours of ‘dead time’ and speculation. Whilst advertisers are aware of the increased interest on news outlets on deadline day, as yet none have been bold enough to do more than pay a premium for advertising space.

It’s Not Impossible

The NFL – America’s most watched sport on TV, and one that is making real progress in terms of successfully opening a London-based franchise, has proved that the transfer market is an area that holds great potential for the sponsorship industry. Their incredibly strong commercial strategy has contributed to their increasing success in the UK, having sold out Wembley for the Dallas Cowboys vs Jacksonville Jaguars game earlier this month.

Bud Light signed on as the official beer of the NFL in 2011 and has since adopted the NFL draft (a once-a-year event in which NFL teams select eligible college football players to add to their rosters) as a core aspect of their strategy. According to Mike Sundet, senior director at Bud Light, “the NFL Draft has become an unofficial holiday for fans – something they begin looking forward to almost as soon as the previous season ends.”

This year Bud Light is offering 32 fans, one representing each NFL team, an opportunity to be directly involved in the second-round draft, aired live on primetime US TV. Bud Light not only provides a channel for fans to directly connect and interact with their favourite teams, but also engages with fans increasing both brand advocacy and awareness.

The Opportunity

If a brand were to take total ownership of transfer deadline day with a clear strategy on how best to exploit the vast interest from the fan-base, there are huge potential gains for both the brand and the English Football Leagues.

If cooperation from the Premier League Football Association and Sky Sports could be secured, the space would be a blank canvas for a brand to create something both memorable and incredibly effective. The only part of the equation missing is the brand that’s willing to think outside of the perceived limits of the existing area.

Slingshot’s MD Jackie Fast Takes Home Two Awards at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards 21st November, 2014

Jackie Fast, MD of Slingshot Sponsorship was awarded with two awards for the Media Disruptor Entrepreneur of the Year at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, held at Old Billingsgate in London on November 19th, 2014.  In association with NatWest, the awards celebrated entrepreneurs who embody a spirit of disruption, innovation and enterprise.  Regarded as the new benchmark for entrepreneurial success in the UK, the awards celebrated the contributions and innovations of British entrepreneurs and their impact on the economy.

With some extremely talent nominations (see full list of nominations for the category here) within the Media Disruptor of the Year Award, Jackie Fast was given Bronze in the overall category losing to Shane Lake from HungryHouse who took home Gold.

In addition, Jackie was given the NatWest Special Merit Award beating out Sarah Wood, Founder of Unruly and Jay Radia, Founder of Yieldify.

To see the full list of winners from the Great British Entrepreneur Awards click here.

 

 


Creating Transformational Moments Through Location Technology 17th November, 2014

The development of location technology is growing fast and has major implication to sponsorship – especially when considering location services to engage brands to their customers onsite at the events that they sponsor.  Understandably, Apple was the first to launch with the Apple iBeacon.  Shortly after Samsung launched Proximityas the “mobile marketing platform that connects consumers with places via cutting-edge Samsung location and context-aware technology.”

The potential of this technology is limitless, but made essentially relevant for retail sales.  Imagine you are in M&S to purchase yourself a cashmere scarf.  If M&S employed location technology via in-store transmitters, upon arrival the store could tell not only tell you what cashmere scarves are available, but also what gloves might match and where they can be found.  Upselling in-store no longer needs to be done by the sales people on the ground, but applied in your hand.

The influence on sponsorship and the physical space

The development of this type of technology further erodes the traditional sponsorship model, making way for a new breed of thinking driving effective, collaborative partnerships that demand a deeper understanding of consumer behaviour and engagement.  This potential need not only be applied to Westfield, but also within football stadiums, music festivals, science museums and children’s museums – allowing sponsors and rights holder to effectively influence and engage with their audiences.

The intriguing aspect of this technology which isn’t particularly new, is deciphering the data location technology generates. Rewarding loyal, frequent shoppers with unique events or rewards offers brands an extended and tangible asset to target and communicate a specific demographic.

Smartphones making us work smarter

Brands want to take greater ownership in the festivals and events they support to the dislike of some event organisers. However, turning this insight into commercial solutions that ultimately drive sales is what excites top level marketers (and Slingshot employees!).

Marketers are driven by media content because it works – it’s that simple.  However our sponsorship solutions shouldn’t be limited by this alone.  Instead, sponsorship professionals need to start questioning the true value of collective goals – ensuring involvement and activation drives purpose beyond the traditional.  Utilising location services not only helps sponsorship professionals do their jobs better, but more importantly adds significant value to the customer’s experience, which is what matters most.


Swift vs. Spotify – An insight into the Future of the Music Industry 7th November, 2014

With Taylor Swift’s recent decision to remove all of her music from Spotify, opinions have been forming as to whether this is a taster of things to come for the music industry.

 

In line with the release of her new album, 1989, Taylor Swift decided she no longer wanted any presence on the music streaming platform – Spotify. For years, Swift has been open in her opinions about music piracy and streaming stating ‘It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is.’

 

In response to Swift’s decision, Spotify released the following statement: ‘We believe that fans should be able to listen to music wherever and whenever they want and that artists have an absolute right to be paid for their work and protected from piracy. That’s why we pay nearly 70% of our revenue back to the music community.’

 

Despite Spotify’s insistence that nearly 70% of their revenue goes back to the ‘music community’ – it is estimated that artists only receive $0.006 and $0.0084 per stream in royalties.

 

Most significantly, however, Swift’s newly released album ‘1989’ debuted at No.1 in the US and claimed the largest sales week for an album since 2002.

 

Impact on the Sponsorship Industry

It is worth noting, that Swift is one of the highest earning artists globally and has the ability to sidestep platforms such as Spotify, which is not an option for many artists.

 

This case however highlights two key things:

  1. The music industry is finally seeking alternative methods to overcome the issues faced through piracy and streaming
  2. Fans are still willing to purchase music and spend money on artists they admire – indicating that with the right model, the industry can be profitable

 

The state of the current music industry poses an interesting model for the sponsorship industry. In the past ten years, the commercial departments in record labels have increased two-fold. Gone are the days where a Number 1. slot goes to the individual selling 100,000 records, now, it’s more like 10,000 (see Rhianna in 2012). Sponsorship, it seems, has become a revenue stream to fill the gaping hole that has appeared through the decline in record sales.

 

Not only do brand partnerships generate additional revenue, but they offer artists a unique way to engage with their audience. Alongside brands, opportunities arise for artists to challenge their creativity and create products, design fashion lines and direct music videos (see the video FKA Twigs recently directed for Google Glass or one of the Slingshot team’s favourites Nas, Rakim, Kanye West and KRS One’s partnership with Nike’s Air Force One).

 

As an industry, there’s a huge amount of potential for artists and brands to collaborate across a plethora of mediums. In time, this will ensure that the music industry remains profitable for all parties involved and ultimately creates something truly unique for fans to enjoy.


Flexibility: The Key to Driving the Sponsorship Industry 5th November, 2014

Great sponsorship is borne from collaborative flexibility. The industry revolves around the ability to adapt and create innovative sponsorships that engage with consumers. An open-minded approach is a pre-requisite, the challenge for sponsorship agencies lies in absorbing brand anxiety and persuading them that sponsorship, strategised and executed correctly, is an incredibly diverse marketing platform that has the capacity to produce great return on investment.

The sponsorship industry has a level of flexibility that is unrivalled in the marketing world; where there’s sufficient synergy, activations can be created at any level of financial investment.

Three core considerations:

  1. Mindset: rights-holders have to understand the value that a brand can add to an event or product beyond financial investment. A certain level of flexibility needs to be retained by rights-holders to accommodate appropriate sponsors and their objectives.
  2. Budget Planning: brands need to be open-minded when planning budgets – an explorative and inquisitive mind-set is integral when considering properties they perhaps would normally overlook. Marketing objectives change and with it comes new opportunities for brands to interact with new audiences and events.
  3. Strategy: both parties need to accommodate the other’s objectives from the sponsorship – in most instances, both parties will need to be flexible when it comes to the actual delivery of the sponsorship.

Moving Forward

Flexibility is the key to delivering a successful sponsorship – the industry needs to not be constrained by pricing or bureaucracy, instead understanding how freedom of variance is required to create the most beneficial strategy for all parties involved. Clever sponsorship is able to deliver on virtually any marketing objective a brand might have, and so it should be doing so at every chance it can. The challenge is to look beyond the traditional benefits that any old marketing platform can provide brands, and delve deeper into other achievable objectives.

Think Bigger

The success or failure of a sponsorship should not be based purely upon ticking the boxes of each asset, but rather based upon the factors that emanated further down the line, the insight that evolves as a result of the synergies formed between both parties working collaboratively.

Being able to directly interact with a brand’s core audience is something that sets sponsorship apart from TV, radio, and outdoor advertising. If we can persuade brand managers to see the bigger picture in terms of the possibilities within sponsorship, the flexibility of the industry means that campaigns can be 100% individual. One of the most unique and exciting aspects of sponsorship is the endless opportunity; a little bit of creativity, vision, and desire, even if the investment is small, can lead to disproportionate benefits for everyone involved.


Slingshot Sponsorship Appointed as Sponsorship Agency for Wales Rally GB 2015 29th October, 2014

The UK round of the world’s leading Rally Championship, Wales Rally GB, has appointed Slingshot Sponsorship as their dedicated sponsorship agency for the 2015s event. With only two weeks to go until Wales Rally GB 2014, the routes are being cleared across various locations in North Wales for the climax of this year’s Championship.

The FIA World Rally Championship comprises rounds in 13 different countries around the world and covers four continents in 11 months, culminating with a Champion Driver and Champion Manufacturer at the end of the season. Widely regarded as one of the most challenging motor sport competitions on the planet, the UK leg takes place in the forests and parks of mid and North Wales, providing the sternest test of both man and machine.

As well as the popular forest stages, the rally weekend will feature a whole host of additional events for ticket holders, ranging from the brand new family friendly Service Park in Deeside as well as Spectator Stages at Chirk Castle and Kinmel Park. More that 70,000 attendees will enjoy day long entertainment, catering and big screens in celebration of the Rally.

Ben Taylor, Managing Director, Wales Rally GB stated “We have big plans for the development of Wales Rally GB in the coming years and we are delighted to have identified Slingshot Sponsorship as the perfect sponsorship agency our event. We will be working collaboratively to establish Wales Rally GB – known as the ‘Rally of Legends’ – as one of the prominent sporting events in the UK calendar.”

Integrated and tailored in its approach, Slingshot Sponsorship has evolved as an agency to develop and deliver inspired partnership opportunities for high profile clients.

Jackie Fast, Managing Director, Slingshot Sponsorship explains “Wales Rally GB stands as one of the premier motor sport events in the world – working with the event is a very exciting opportunity for us to showcase the commercial potential of this platform.”

Sponsorship opportunities for the Wales Rally GB 2015 are currently available.


Selling Ice to Eskimos 15th October, 2014

If you are in sponsorship sales you want people to say ‘you can sell Ice to Eskimos’ – it is that personal achievement, the moment the salesperson becomes a Spartan.

Through time and experience you learn that selling ice to an Eskimo is relatively easy – they know it, they understand it, and even though they might have way too much of it, it is still easy to show they need it. The Spartan hits his stride, and sales keep flowing in.

Such is the state of traditional sponsorship.  Picture an Eskimo in front of his igloo with the most picturesque icy background you can imagine – blank canvas – get to work, what do you sell?

Leading up to this point the typical sponsorship sales person would categorise the premium located igloo building blocks as worth more than the lessor prestigious placed foundation blocks. The possibility of a flag with a logo, the kit he is wearing, some added hoarding, banner flags and a big screen streaming videos and twitter feeds – #nICE to feel like you are really getting integrated. Taking it further, let’s throw in backdrops and lanyards for the VIP’s; and of course, don’t forget the car they arrive in. Ticketing, collateral, post event photos and highlights reels can be used to extend the memory of this great moment and really maximise exposure.

Done, this is Sparta!

Unfortunately that is also the problem.  This is just selling ice to Eskimos.  It is what the sponsorship industry has done for so many years, it’s traditional and predictable.  Furthermore, Eskimos now have gadgets, gizmos and can travel – making ice potentially less valuable to them then what it once was.

As with Eskimos, brands are also failing to realise the value of a logo and badging.  This is compounded by rights-holders increasing the cost of their sponsorship rights to sustain their growth (rather than increasing the value), whilst brands are reducing their spend to sustain the same.

It is clear there is need for a shift in the sponsorship approach.

Unlike Zerksis, the brave 300 shouldn’t be your stumbling blocks, rather the number of ways you should look at your proposition to really unlock true potential.  Traditional sponsorship is a good start; however this should only be that, the start. To really maximise the potential of both rights-holders and brands, we all need to work harder at uncover rights beyond the straightforward ‘ice assets’ our industry keeps flogging.


Slingshot Sponsorship Appointed as Exclusive Sponsorship Agency for Snowboxx Festival 9th October, 2014

The highlight of the winter festival calendar – Snowboxx Festival, has appointed Slingshot Sponsorship as their exclusive sponsorship agency. The festival is to be held in March 2015 at the beautiful resort of Alp D’Huez, France.

Since its inception in 2013, Snowboxx festival has hosted attendees from across the globe.  A week long snow escape, Snowboxx, is the perfect ski holiday – granting audiences the chance to cruise alpine pistes by day and dance to world renowned DJ’s by night.  The festival will take over the town of Alp D’Huez this year, creating festival hubs, open air stages, après terrace parties and late night club parties.

With world renowned DJ’s headlining last year, this year’s festival promises to be the best yet. Festival Director, Aiden Levin stated: “we are delighted to be working with Slingshot Sponsorship. Snowboxx was built on the premise to offer something fresh to the festival market and we feel that Slingshot is the agency to help us maximise on this opportunity.”

Snowboxx not only focusses on the snow and music – the festival offers outdoor pool parties, world record attempts, tropical tea parties, live art on the snow and karaoke on the chairlifts. With a new location as well as bigger events and artists lined up for 2015, Snowboxx is shaping up to be the festival of the season.

Jackie Fast, Managing Director, Slingshot Sponsorship stated: “we were really impressed by the rate Snowboxx has expanded in two years. The festival market is becoming ever more saturated, so it was really refreshing to come across a festival like Snowboxx, which offers a truly unique platform for its audience and brands.”

Snowboxx festival will be hosted in March 2015 at Alp D’Huez ski resort, France.


Slingshot Sponsorship Wins Best British Small Business in the O2 Smarta 100 6th October, 2014

Smarta.com and O2 Business present the UK’s 100 most dynamic and innovative small businesses

Smarta.com and O2 Business proudly announce that Slingshot Sponsorship is a winner of the 2014 O2 Smarta 100, the ultimate index of the UK’s savviest, supremely disruptive, most resourceful and socially-beneficial small businesses.

The O2 Smarta 100 awards celebrates new UK tech powerhouses like Squawka, Rant & Rave and Pact Coffee, as much as those dedicated to changing thousands of lives for the better – Two Fingers Brewing Co, whose profits go in full to prostate cancer research.

In total, 2014’s Smarta 100 are generating revenues of over £70million a year and employing more than 640 people. More than a quarter are female-run businesses and half are self-funded, with just 5% borrowing from a bank. 35% have taken angel, private equity or VC funding. The oldest company founder is 56; the two youngest are just teenagers at 19.

Commenting on their inclusion in the Smarta 100, Slingshot Sponsorship’s Managing Director Jackie Fast said:

We are absolutely thrilled to be part of the Smarta 100 list this year.  It’s fantastic that our specialist work in helping organisations commercialise through sponsorship is being recognised by the larger business community.  Even just being judged by such an esteemed panel from businesses that we find truly inspiring including Naked Wines and Ella’s Kitchen is an honour in itself, and winning is just that much better!

Jackie Fast is also up for the Young Female Entrepreneur Award at the Smarta100 through a public vote.

Discover more business stories and to vote for Jackie Fast under the Young Female Entrepreneur Award category please visit: www.smarta.com/smarta100

 


Slingshot’s MD Jackie Fast named as one of UK’s Hottest Entrepreneurs Aged 35 or Under 15th September, 2014

Growing Business today names its 12th annual list of the entrepreneurs aged 35 or under behind 30 of the UK’s brightest companies.

Jackie Fast, MD of Slingshot Sponsorship, has been named one of the UK’s most outstanding entrepreneurs aged 35 or under, revealed today in Growing Business’ Young Guns ‘Class of 2014′.

Recognised at an awards luncheon held at the prestigious Kensington Roof Gardens, this year’s crop is made up of 54 entrepreneurs behind 30 of the country’s fastest-growing firms.  The Class of 2014 join an alumni already containing the founders of 330 businesses named since the Young Guns awards began in 2003.  Sponsored by law firm Keystone Law and chartered accountants haysmacintyre, Young Guns celebrates the most outstanding crop of young entrepreneurs the country has to offer with only 30 companies selected each year, and no repeat appearances.

Commenting on the win, Jackie Fast said: “It is an absolute honour to be recognised amongst this incredibly influential and successful group of people shaping the future of business in the UK.  As our agency is driven to enable and secure the future of other businesses commercially through securing partners, this award is particularly relevant to us.  We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Slingshot Sponsorship as well as the other Young Guns!”

Now in its 12th year, the awards has a track record of talent spotting, previously recognising the fledgling businesses started by the likes of Michael Action Smith OBE of Mind Candy, Holly Tucker MBE of Notonthehighstreet.com, Neil Hutchinson of Forward Internet Group, Matthew Riley of Daisy Group Plc, and the co-founders of Innocent Drinks, Huddle, YPlan, Nails Inc., Chilango, and Made.com.

 

View the full list of 2014 Young Guns and their profiles here:www.growingbusiness.co.uk/young-guns

In numbers: Who are the Young Guns Class of 2014?

  • There are 54 qualifying co-founders
  • The 30 businesses are 4 years old on average
  • The mean age between the qualifying founders is 29, with the youngest just 18
  • On average their companies employ 36 people, with the highest employing 200
  • Between the 20 companies that are equity backed, the total they’ve raised stands at over £114m
  • That means those 20 companies have raised £5.7m on average – the highest being House Trip, which has raised $60m and Nutmeg with $50m.
  • It also means 10 companies in this Class have grown organically
  • Their average turnover (for the 26 who told us) is £4.1m and they’re forecasting to grow that to £7.2m this year
  • Of the 26 who told us, they still own 61% of their equity

The Knowledge Arena – Challenging The Traditional Festival Model 11th September, 2014

The end of summer always signifies the end of another chapter for the Outlook and Dimensions Festivals team at Slingshot. But summer blues aside, this year’s editions of Outlook and Dimensions Festivals brought with it the launch of the Knowledge Arena.

Curated alongside CDR Projects, an evolving multi-platform music project – Outlook & Dimensions developed an immersive new learning experience space that focused upon music creation, performance and collaboration. For the 14 days spanning first Dimensions and then Outlook Festival, festival-goers and artists were granted the chance to be inspired by their surroundings and have the opportunity to creatively channel their experiences in the sun at the Knowledge Arena.

The Inspiration

Technological advancement in the music industry has meant that the process of music creation and performance have continued to blur. Spawned from the minds of festival Director Johnny Scratchley and CDR’s Tony Nwachukwu, the Knowledge Arena was created to take a deeper look into these processes and to understand what factors influence the work that is produced and then performed and enjoyed at Outlook Festival and Dimensions Festival.

The Enablers

Alongside Ableton, Akai and M-Audio, the Knowledge Arena created a fully immersive experience for individuals. The tailored programme featured a mix of music creation workshops, artist masterclasses and conversations and ‘Open Play’ slots which allowed individuals the chance to develop their own ideas supported by a team of specialist producers and DJs.

Such an exploration was delivered alongside Ableton, M-Audio and Akai. A studio was built on the festival site and was fitted with a wealth of equipment for everyone to get their hands on from – Ableton Live, Akai APC40, Ableton Push and M-Audio Trigger Finger Pro.

The Results

Not only was the Knowledge Area a space for festival-goers to engage with workshops from our Knowledge Arena professionals, it also hosted a programme of talks and demonstrations from some of the top artists on the bill for both Outlook & Dimensions. The Knowledge Arena saw the likes of Omar, Seven Davis Jr, Alexander Nut, Roman Flugel and more discuss their creative processes.

The Knowledge Arena brought another element to the festival experience at Outlook and Dimensions Festivals this year. Not only did it allow festival-goers the opportunity to try their hand at the latest kit out there, it gave them the chance to delve further into the creative processes of the artists they admire. Each of the artists engaged with their workshops and talks with a level of honesty that you would not be able to find elsewhere.

Coming from a single conversation between Johnny and Tony, the Knowledge Arena is just the first step towards the evolution of the festival experience at Outlook and Dimensions. Keep your eyes peeled for exclusive footage that will be released over the coming weeks.


Outlook & Dimensions Festivals launch video to celebrate partnership with D&AD and Red Stripe 27th August, 2014

To celebrate Outlook & Dimensions Festivals’ partnership with D&AD and Red Stripe at this year’s D&AD New Blood, the team have released a video to creatively explore the collaboration.

D&AD’s New Blood is a programme that inspires the next generation of creative talent and stimulates the creative industry. Each year New Blood hosts exhibitions at Spitalfields Market – encouraging young advertising and design heads to engage with a host of exhibitors.  As part of their partnership, Outlook & Dimensions hosted an exhibition at their offices which saw more than 20 young designers join the Outlook team to learn about the processes behind developing the festival from Marketing to Sales and the development of the festival Site-Art.

The innovative partnership also saw Outlook & Dimensions and Red Stripe develop and deliver a competition to their dedicated audiences to unearth promising and exciting new designers. The brief encouraged the designers to break away from traditional billboard advertising, to create something that would challenge the senses and embody Outlook & Dimensions Festivals.

The chosen design by Oliver Reynolds-Duffy – a 3rd year graphic designer at Manchester Metropolitan University was displayed on a 20 foot billboard in the heart of London’s bustling Shoreditch. Oliver’s designed was inspired by Dimensions Festival and concentrated on sourced materials which were used as different layered elements and pieces across the board.

The final part of the partnership culminated in the awards ceremony at the Truman Brewery and after party at Concrete, which was hosted by Outlook & Dimensions with a selection of the festivals’ DJ’s playing throughout the night.

Johnny Scratchley, Director, Outlook & Dimensions Festival stated ‘D&AD New Blood exists to inspire young, creative talent across the world and it has been a pleasure to work with them on this project and offer a platform for our audience to create on a global scale. Having a brand such as Red Stripe on board really rounded up the whole experience for our team – Red Stripe is synonymous with the music our festivals represent, so for me, this was the perfect partnership.’

The winner of the competition will be flown out to support the Outlook & Dimensions festivals’ site-art team this year.  Outlook and Dimensions are two music events with a passion for creating bespoke environments and quality underground music to be experienced. Dimensions Festival will be on from 27th-31st August and Outlook Festival will commence from the 3rd-7th September in Pula, Croatia.


National Business Awards Q&A: Jackie Fast, Slingshot Sponsorship 20th August, 2014

Jackie Fast is the Managing Director of UK-based strategic sponsorship agency Slingshot Sponsorship. Her organisation has been chosen as a finalist in the BlackBerry Business Enabler of the Year category at the 2014 National Business Awards; as part of Outsource‘s partnership with the NBAs, we got together with the finalists for this award to ask them a few questions about their activities and the changing nature of partnership and collaboration in a rapidly evolving business environment…

Outsource: In the words of the organisers, “The winner of this award will be the organisation that has best helped client or partner businesses to increase profitability by improving efficiency, develop talent or implement innovation.” How do you think your organisation has managed to do any one of these things to the extent that it has been shortlisted?

Jackie Fast: Our entire business model centres on how successful we are at identifying, uncovering and generating additional income through commercial gaps and sponsorship; therefore, this award could not be more suitable as every single aspect of our business is built on this.

When we launched only four years ago, we anticipated that this model would only suit smaller organisations who either didn’t have the resource to properly commercialise their opportunities or didn’t have the skill set. However, over the years, this applies to almost every business and can take an objective specialist view to really identify the opportunities that are being missed. Since inception, our clients have ranged dramatically from charities such as the British Heart Foundation and the Mayor’s Fund for London, to music festivals such as Outlook and Dimensions, to big B2B events such as the What Car? Awards. Ironically, regardless of the business or industry, the framework put in place is the same.

O: When a buy-side organisation engages with a supplier, how far do you think it transfers responsibility for innovation?

JF: This is a topic much debated at the moment as historically the brand was always responsible for the activation. However, it is in both parties’ interests to actively engage and ensure that the programme, event, or campaign is successful for the audience. Therefore, I would strongly argue that the onus is placed on the rights holder side to ensure that activation falls in line with the overall business strategy to help align objectives.

O: Do you think the very definition of partnership, in a business sense, is evolving and if so how?

JF: The output of partnership is still the same; however, the input of partnerships is radically changing, which is why there are discrepancies around definitions of what sponsorship or partnership is. Sponsorship makes marketing work harder and always has; however, who is involved in that partnership is different now through the advance of digital technology. This will inevitably change our industry.

O: What’s your definition of the perfect client?

JF: A client who understands their business and their reason for bringing on partnerships beyond the financial. A client who isn’t about just selling the logo.

Partnerships can deliver far beyond the investment of rights. When clients understand this implication and its potential, we then have the ability to create sponsorships that deliver value well beyond expectations.


Thatcham to Sponsor new ‘Safety’ Category at 2015 What Car? Awards 14th August, 2014

Thatcham Research, the UK insurers’ automotive research centre, has announced its involvement in the What Car? Car of the Year Awards 2015, as a sponsor of the newly introduced ‘Safety’ category.

The What Car? Car of the Year Awards are the most coveted accolades in the automotive industry. The Awards recognise cars that meet the highest standards in their sector after being put through the toughest tests by the most experienced team in the business.

As the UK’s only Euro NCAP accredited crash test centre and pioneers of the Euro NCAP and insurance industry’s testing criteria for Autonomous Emergency Braking technology, Thatcham has established an unrivalled reputation in the field of vehicle safety. The centre is therefore a natural choice to put its first-hand experience and research knowledge into recognising and rewarding the efforts made by vehicle manufacturers in this important area.

“With the introduction of numerous driver assistance and semi-autonomous vehicle safety technologies, manufacturers have really pushed the boundaries of possibility in recent years and there’s certainly more to come.” said Thatcham’s Chief Executive Peter Shaw. “It’s hugely exciting to be involved in this new award category and one which we truly believe can have a major influence on consumers’ future purchasing decisions.”

What Car? publishing director Chris Lowe said: “We are delighted to have Thatcham involved with the Safety Category at this year’s What Car? Awards.  This is a brand new category for What Car? and has been made possible through the support of Thatcham and their expertise in safety, security and crash repair.  We look forward to working with them and delivering the best What Car? Awards yet.”

The What Car? Car of the Year Awards event is attended by more than 1,400 leading industry figureheads alongside the most influential motoring correspondents from the wider media.

The event is to be held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on January 7, 2015.

This deal was brokered by Slingshot Sponsorship


How To Get Sponsors Working For Your Business 4th August, 2014

The sponsorship industry is changing.  The opportunities are endless and ways of engaging are ever increasing.  And yet, the sponsorship industry still remains fairly static.  Since inception, the typical transaction includes rights holders trading ‘space’ to sponsors for money.  Everyone seems pretty happy.  But is everyone getting the most out of the relationship?  With ROI crucial to good business, I’d question whether everyone is getting as much return for the investment that is being put into the sponsorships created.

But money talks and quite rightly, rights holders utilise sponsorship to drive revenue.  However, sponsorship can do so much more.  When done cleverly, sponsorship can open business avenues and new profit centres rights holders wouldn’t have been able to create by themselves.

But it needs a rights holder who is willing to look at the bigger picture with an ambition to think outside of the box commercially.

Rather than just chasing money for logo placement, rights holders need to identify what their ideal ambition is for incorporating sponsorship revenue within their commercial objectives.  For many B2B events, it’s about attracting leading consumer brand names to their event.  For music festivals, it’s about differentiation and adding value to the festival experience.  For sport, it’s getting fans to engage with the team beyond the pitch.  Sponsorship does all these things, but it doesn’t happen overnight.

Many rights holders fail to realise that they have to consider their sponsorship ambitions in a series of steps.  Just like growing any business, in order to reach the end goal there are milestones of achievement – each one built upon success of the other.  A good sponsorship strategy should be developed in the same way – with the long view in mind including phases that drive to deliver objectives beyond the financial.

And even if money really is the only objective (although if you dig deep enough, this is rarely the case), you need to create phases which will allow you to continue building value in order to increase revenue year on year.

So how do you go about building a sponsorship strategy that does all this and more?

  1. Figure out if you have ambitions beyond money.  And if you do, find out if sponsorship can help you reach them.
  2. If you cannot offer a strong proposition to the sponsors you really want, carve out areas of rights that you can provide on a reduced rights fee or for free while still maintaining your core sponsors.  This allows you to negotiate with the right sponsors that can deliver on some of your long-term ambitions while still ensuring your financial targets can be met by the usual suspects.
  3. Talk with your current sponsors about your ambitions and find out how they can play a role in achieving them.
  4. Partner with sponsors whose long-term goals and objectives are aligned with your own.
  5. Stop thinking transactional.  Get creative.

London Twenty What? Brands opt for sponsorship flings as opposed to the ball and chain 28th July, 2014

Whatever happened to legacy? During the 2012 London Olympics we could scarcely move for the word, and in regards to sponsorship there is very little evidence of it. Since 2012 there have been four major global sporting events and yet still very few campaigns follow on after the life of an event. And why not?

As Lucien Boyer explains, the buzz of an event doesn’t last forever and as such brands should look to the long term if they want their partnership to provide an effective return, rather than being accused of ‘cashing in’. Sponsorship should be seen as a marriage between the event, marketing, and its values and vision. A long-term partnership sets a clear direction for a company’s future marketing, allowing the brand to develop a strong message and engage with the target audience consistently over time.

The London Olympics and subsequent 5 years offered a plethora of global athletic events all located within the UK; first London 2012, now the Glasgow 2014 Games, and soon to follow the London 2017 World Athletic Championships (not to mention GB competing at Rio 2016). If a brand had wanted to align themselves with the values of athletics and use global sport as a means to engage the audience (UK or abroad) there might rarely have been a better opportunity.

Sainsbury’s serves as a prime example in delivering sponsorship this way. Having sponsored the 2012 Paralympic games to great effect (as the only ‘big four’ supermarket to make gains in market share during this period posting a 5.6% increase YOY), Sainsbury’s didn’t stop there. They finalised an agreement to partner with the British Paralympic Association for the next four years and also to sponsor the British Athletics Major Event series, including the Anniversary Games and British Grand Prix in August. In addition to this they launched a one million pound scheme to provide coaching and facilities to help disabled children lead more active lives providing an ROI that “will not just be measured in pure marketing terms”.

So having returned this week from a jaunt north of the boarder to indulge in the Commonwealth Games, I couldn’t help but hear that word again on everyone’s lips. One of Glasgow’s major sponsors SSE is looking to change this. As an Official Partner to the games, SSE used an onsite Twitter leader board to engage on Twitter and experientially at the Green Zone. Furthermore, they had a number of brand ambassadors from the home counties, provided long term naming rights for the SSE Hydro (hosting the netball and gymnastics), and are looking to continue the long term effects by increasing the funding for the SSE Next Generation programme giving support to aspiring athletes in the UK. Only time will tell with how much vigour brands will continue to engage now the curtain has closed on Glasgow. Who knows, come Rio 2016 perhaps the word ‘legado’ will never even be uttered.


Sir Bradley Reminds Us It’s About More Than A Logo 24th July, 2014

Sir Bradley Wiggins’ comments on the eve of the Commonwealth Games that the Emirates branding on the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow might have left Sir Chris feeling a little “done over”.

For those of us in the sponsorship industry though, Wiggins’ comments provided another reminder of just how important it is for sponsors to clearly demonstrate the value they’re adding to an event.

For Emirates, who have activated their sponsorship pre-event by spreading the excitement of the Games across the Commonwealth through the Queen’s Baton Relay and unveiled a new Emirates Lounge at Glasgow Airport just in time for the Games, it will be interesting to see how the airline actively engages audiences now the Games are underway.
The recent World Cup in Brazil pushed digital and brand engagement to the fore and further supported the premise that effective sponsorship is more than just a collection of logos and branding at an event. Sponsorship should help to actively engage with consumers allowing the audience to interact and create an emotional tie with a brand.

We’ve seen major brands and sponsors bend-over-backwards at recent global sports events to use meaningful and relevant activation to bring their brands as close to the action as possible. Here’s our selection of podium placers from recent global events where engagement was king.

P&G – ‘Thank You Mom’ (London 2012 & Sochi 2014)

To much critical acclaim P&G executed a clearly defined and emotionally charged message through an integrated“Thank You Mom” campaign, encompassing a host of digital channels, athlete ambassadors including the likes ofVictoria Pendleton and Jessica Ennis-Hill and the release of an app allowing over 50,000 of us to say thank you to mum too!

Beats – London 2012

Beats was just one of a number of  brands who managed, temporarily at least, to evade the brand police and creatively engage with audiences at London 2012 without sponsoring the event. Not only supplying (what seemed like) every athlete with a custom pair of Beats, they also created a pop-up space in Shoreditch House allowing 4,000 people including Olympic athletes from all over the globe to interact with the brand, watch the Games and make use of a photo booth which was used to generate content for poster shots later in the campaign.

Budweiser – ‘Rise as One’ (FIFA World Cup 2014)

Budweiser made sure to engage with its audience whether they were in Brazil or not.  Fans from all over the globe were encouraged to get involved via Twitter with users urged to tap #ManoftheMatch tweets from @FIFAcom which generated Budweiser branded player photos and a  tweet and vote mechanic. Many fans lucky enough to make the trip to Brazil were greeted with rewards in the form of the Budweiser Hotel which hosted parties and events throughout the tournament and acted as a hub for over 3000 satellite Budweiser parties all around the world.

With 1.5 billion people tuning in to the Commonwealth Games let’s hope brands involved make it equally engaging!


Why Lifestyle Brands Are Getting It Right 17th July, 2014

Our unique take on sponsorship has enabled us to work with some fantastic lifestyle brands such as Red Stripe, Majestic Athletic, Supreme Being, Monster Energy, Spotify, and New Era who are truly maximising the consumer shift towards culture brands.  In terms of sponsorship, these brands are getting it right.  They truly understand their consumer, their market, and most importantly understand how utilising effective sponsorship platforms make their marketing budgets work harder – often because their budgets are a fraction of their rivalling high street retail competitors who are vying for the same audience.

But what makes them different and why should you care?

It all boils down to engagement.  Lifestyle brands tend to have more success in engaging their market better than many other retailers.  They also know where to engage them and how to engage them.  If engagement is what brands are after because engagement sells, then this surely is something to take notice of rather than being complacent on your own brand image – even if you do only sell shoe inserts.

So here is my take on why lifestyle brands are getting it right:

  1. Challenged to be creative – smaller budgets mean you have to really think about what you are doing with them.  When lifestyle brands sponsor something, they maximise every single opportunity and asset they purchase ensuring nothing is missed.
  2. Commercially creative teams – lifestyle brands tend to have teams where everyone does a bit of everything, rather than job roles split up.  This forces individuals to be both creative and commercial – enabling people to fully understand how marketing activity drives sales, which is crucial.
  3. They are their target market – not only do they know their audience, they themselves tend to be active and avid advocates of the brand.  This saves focus groups, countless surveys, and allows them to tap into consumer insight easily.

If you want to see what we’ve done with Majestic Athletic, click here for the case study.


Slingshot Sponsorship Announced as National Business Awards Finalist for The BlackBerry Business Enabler of the Year Award 16th July, 2014

Slingshot Sponsorship Announced as National Business Awards Finalist for The BlackBerry Business Enabler of the Year Award

Britain’s leading businesses, business leaders and social enterprises have today been revealed as finalists for the 2014 National Business Awards and Slingshot Sponsorship is amongst them.

Slingshot Sponsorship has been shortlisted for The BlackBerry Business Enabler of the Year Award – recognising organisations that help businesses to increase profitability by improving efficiency, developing talent and implementing innovation.  This award recognises the impact of ‘enablers’ that offer value beyond services.

Commenting on the Slingshot Sponsorship award entry, Judge Simon Feary, CEO, Chartered Quality Institute said:

“Slingshot has positioned itself to address a niche market overlooked by the main providers. To do that profitably and sustainably, especially within the small business-low margin segment you really have to know your market. Small beginnings but the growth is there suggesting they have their model right.”

This year’s shortlisted businesses cover activities as diverse as retail, technology, men’s grooming products, telecoms, construction, advertising, entertainment, and publishing. Of the businesses shortlisted, 24% turnover under £5m, 26% turnover between £5m and £25m, 15% over a billion and 10% not for profit organisations. The smallest business recognised has a turnover of just £23k with the largest reaching £20 billion. Finalists collectively employ over 850,000 people, the smallest has just one member of staff while the largest employs around 165,000 people globally.

Jackie Fast, Managing Director of Slingshot Sponsorship commented:

“Having our business model recognised as a business enabler at the National Business Awards opens up a world of opportunity for our agency proposition beyond our typical market of sponsorship and marketing professionals.  As we champion the value of commercialisation in marketing, it is an honour to be recognised against some fierce competition in this category – especially from those organisations in the financial industry.”

Visit The National Business Awards for a full list of all finalists and to attend the event.


App-led Sponsorship 23rd June, 2014

On Wednesday, Facebook embarked upon its latest attempt to corner the social media market with the launch of the aptly named Slingshot app.  To many, the launch was a response to Facebook’s failed bid for rival and burgeoning app Snapchat – an instant messaging app for sharing photos and videos with friends.

As of May of this year, users were sending up to 700 million photos and videos per day, while Snapchat Stories content was being viewed 50 million times per day.  The recent surge in apps such as these has engendered new opportunities for sponsors to develop more creative and diverse social media strategies. Yet despite the overwhelming usage of apps such as Snapchat, the platform is still relatively untouched by brands – as such, here is an overview of recent campaigns using these platforms.

Diet Coke & Taylor Swift

Last year, Diet Coke used the app as part of its sponsorship of Taylor Swift’s Red Tour. People who subscribed to Diet Coke’s virtual scavenger hunt received one picture a day for five days. Each picture revealed clues regarding location of that day’s item and those who collected all five items won a free concert ticket. Due to the success of this campaign, Swift was able to directly engage with Swift’s audience on a global scale.

Heineken & Coachella

More recently Heineken, through their sponsorship of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, created a Snapchat account called HeinekenSnapWho. Users received clues throughout the weekend about who would be performing and those who responded with the correct answer would get an early confirmation from Heineken.

Both of these activations demonstrate the extensive opportunity available for brands to generate their own content through these apps.  Furthermore, over two thirds of Snapchat’s 60 million users are mostly under the age of 25 meaning that Snapchat offers access to a very young demographic. This explains why Audi, through their sponsorship of Pretty Little Liars, have been Snapchatting exclusive content to users as it allows them to integrate their brand with their target demographic.

Vine

Of course, Snapchat isn’t the only app out there offering a platform for brands to get creative. Twitter’s video sharing service, Vine, has also attracted a number of sponsors due to the fact that the prerequisite of any viral video on Vine is creativity. In an article on digitaltrends.com, Meagan Cignoli, a Vine creator with over 300,000 followers, says that she is regularly courted by sponsors. Previous sponsorship deals having been agreed with Nike, Lowes and Rite Aid, allowing both the sponsors more social media coverage whilst she’s been able to extend the reach and authority of her own name by attaching herself to these brands. Therefore a ‘symbiotic relationship was created between a viral-hungry sponsor and Vine content creator’.

Vine has approximately 40 million users, 20 million less than Snapchat, however what they both share is a requirement for sponsors to be creative with their strategies. It is through apps such as these that sponsorship becomes so much more than just about the logo with more emphasis placed on integration, user generation and brand led content.


‘I Will Not Bow to Any Sponsor’ – Assessing the Evolution of Product Placement 12th May, 2014

The children’s movie Finding Nemo was a box office hit. It would seem however, that it wasn’t just Disney that reaped the rewards from the film’s success.  Since the film’s release in 2003, sales for clownfish (Nemo) and Pacific regal blue tangs (Dory) have rocketed. It’s safe to say that Disney didn’t have a deal with any pet shops and this increase in fish sales wasn’t ever an objective for the film. Nevertheless, the product (fish) placed in the film had an effect on the audience, who were inspired to then go away and buy their very own Nemo and Dory.

Product placement can be an effective additional revenue stream, providing a platform for brands to showcase their products, as well as providing producers with extra capital to use towards their shows. However, for this type of marketing to be effective, for both brand and televised/cinematic production, there are some key points that need to be followed, which I will explore through examples;

  • Brands suiting the audience; if products have no relevance to the programme’s demographic,  the product placement consequently will not deliver good return.
  • Products harmonising with the production; the contribution needs to be seamless so that it is not ‘chunky’ and awkward, but well enough placed so that the product sticks in people’s minds.
  • Interacting with the audience; sales are likely to rise if viewers actually feel involved with the show and are given accessibility to the products.

Brands suiting the audience
Still a relatively new phenomenon to the world of TV, product placement has been gracing our screens in varying degrees. One example that has been criticised, is the rather abrasive approach taken by Coca Cola through their partnership with American Idol. The show is also sponsored by Ford and mobile giant AT&T, but it is Coca Cola that takes centre stage. From huge vending machines to large red branded cups on the judges’ table – their logo is unavoidable. People have argued that this relentless plug not only has no relevance to the show itself, but it is irresponsible in terms of audience demographic; consequently being inconsistent with Coca Cola’s pledge to not directly advertise unhealthy beverages to children .

Products harmonising with the Production
As well as TV shows and films, music videos are a good medium to hit audiences. Adobe suggests that video content now makes up for more than three quarters of viral media posts. Music videos have a unique way of emotionally engaging with audiences, and therefore when brands take advantage of this, their grab is much stronger. Volvo teamed up with Swedish House Mafia for their rerelease of ‘Leave the World Behind‘ with Swedish singer Lune. Not only was this collaboration a charming homage to some of Sweden’s most successful exports, but the product placement of Volvo really captures the essence of the three DJ’s escaping the city and ‘leaving the world behind’.

Interacting with the audience
Online retailer SSENSE have also joined forces with System magazine to produce a series of e-commerce music videos which give the viewers access to buy the clothing worn by artists. SSENSE & System kicked off the series with Sky Ferreira’s ‘I Blame Myself‘ with SSENSE taking full advantage of the product placement by providing a direct link so viewers can purchase all clothing worn in the video at the click of a button.

In the UK, product placement has only been legal for the last three years. Although the UK is still in its infancy, there have been a selection of campaigns that have not only professionally fitted into the programmes, but have also engaged with audiences.

Very.co.uk collaborated with Big Brother last year, which saw the brand design a click-to-buy service which allowed the public to buy items from the Big Brother house as they appeared. Any fan of Big Brother loves the quirky house and furniture and therefore this interactive system gave people the opportunity to feel further involved in the show. Similarly to SSENSE’s music videos, the ease of access to products gives the audience more incentive to consume.

Product placement is an effective marketing tool that allows brands to access audiences in a way that advertising can’t. Product placement shouldn’t be deemed as just a pay package for the production teams either. Although it is subliminal advertising in their shows, the use of real life branded products can actually add to a programme and make the experience more realistic.  It is clear, however, that product placement has a long way to go, but has a huge amount of potential.  The recent surge in second and even third screening has allowed brands an additional layer of interaction with audiences – granting them the opportunity to engage with the viewer on a more personal level.


The Sponsorship Selfie 1st May, 2014

With June just round the corner, there has been time for a bit of light reflection about what 2014 has served up so far, and what a bizarre year it’s been. The list already includes conflict, flooding, missing planes, #moyesout, little Georgie, twerking and last but certainly not least, ‘the selfie’!

 

However lauded the ‘selfie’ might be, it can offer quite a good starting point for rights holders looking to gain sponsorship. Such introspection should be the first port of call when beginning the process of sourcing sponsorship, rather than the immediate ‘show me the money’ approach.

Making sure you know what you want to look like before your sponsorship selfie is essential; therefore, forming goals and objectives in order to create a pre-determined strategy will be key. So, how is this broken down – what should rights holders be concentrating on?

 

Engagement

Engagement is the acid test for any successful sponsorship. Making sure that sponsors are engaging with your audience and increasing the customer experience is essential; logo placement is never enough. This also helps drive other factors such as footfall, PR and unlocking extra assets within your platform. In recent years, O2 have been pioneers in engagement, using it to reduce churn and increase customer loyalty. This was subsequently achieved through priority moments, which amongst many things, offered fans a catalogue of benefits for being an O2 customer.

 

Added value

Sponsor activation and brand presence, if used strategically, should add value to your property. This has to be done with the brand image and objectives in mind, making sure that there is an authentic fit and your integrity is not challenged. Over the past twelve months integrated stadiums have been a hot topic; none showcase this more poignantly than the rise in Cisco’s investment. This activation fulfils a number of objectives, and ultimately allows the stadium to generate more revenue by offering mobile purchasing of refreshments, and the initial costs are offset by an exchange of assets in return.

 

Credibility

Having the endorsement from a big brand can revolutionise a rights holder’s public image, and provide the credibility needed to stand in an ever cluttered market place. British Airways’ new partnership with the Rooftop Film Club has done just this; an underground and relatively unknown rights holder has the backing of partner who will add kudos and an air of reputability (watch this space for 2014).

 

Not being blinded by the money is key to utilising any partnership to the full; a truly successful sponsorship deal must comprise all of the benefits above. However, going against the true spirit of the selfie – try not to be vain, consider the ugly duckling partnership. By broadening your horizons and keeping an eye out for the unlikely partnership, like ‘Good Earth Teas’ have formed with music supremo EMI, can launch something new – which is what partnerships are for, right?


Slingshot Sponsorship Appoints New Account Director to Launch Sport Division 23rd April, 2014

Slingshot Sponsorship announces that Alex Howells will be joining its London office as an Account Director to head up the agency’s new sport division, as it seeks to drive its ‘creative commercialisation’ concept to rights-owners within the sports industry.

 

Howells takes up the position at Slingshot with over 9 years of experience across the sports marketing and sponsorship sectors, with previous roles at the Football Association and E.ON.  Most recently he has been a key member of the Partnerships team at Sport England where he was responsible for growing Sport England’s portfolio of partners and providing specialist commercial support to national governing bodies of sport.

 

Jackie Fast, Managing Director at Slingshot Sponsorship, said: “We have been on the hunt for a new Director of Sport for some time as it is incredibly difficult to find senior people who have a combination of strong creativity and commercial acumen. Combining that with proven account management, Alex’s breadth of experience with both influential brands and sporting bodies was an ideal fit for our agency as we look to bring our sponsorship concept to the sporting industry.”

 

The new Sport Division will deliver fresh insight through the agency’s previous success developing unique commercial strategies and brand campaigns in music, arts and the charity sector.

 

Slingshot Sponsorship has developed a bespoke sport offering to the industry at a defining time in sports marketing.  Sports with smaller audiences are all too often overlooked for their partnership potential because of the lack of television reach, while mass market sports largely sell their sponsorship based on these figures.  Slingshot works with both brands and rights owners to look beyond the logo, aided by the advance of technology which is driving both innovation and speed.  Jackie Fast states that, “It is now the perfect opportunity to maximise the true potential of sport campaigns that drive engagement – rather than just brand awareness.”

 

Alex Howells, Account Director, Slingshot Sponsorship stated: “It’s a privilege to join the team at Slingshot.  Slingshot do things differently and the agency’s accomplishments in such a short space of time are an indication of the commitment, drive and energy of Jackie and her team.  I’m excited to be a part of it and help bring Slingshot’s creativity to sport.”

 

Howells will carry on the work with Slingshot’s current sport clients, while creating tailored offerings to the industry as a whole with a focus on maximising both participants and commercial revenue streams through effective marketing partnerships.  He will also be responsible for building the profile of smaller sports and women’s sport within the sponsorship industry as a whole.



Much Taboo About Nothing – Engaging new theatre fans through sponsorship 26th March, 2014

An emphatic drop in arts funding over the last decade has forced public funded organisations to re-think their commercial strategies in a bid to remain profitable. The ever increasing pull of the purse strings, combined with an overcrowded marketplace has lead theatres across the land to seek sponsorship in order to keep up. Yet with most discerning customers around who cannot be fooled or cajoled, the trick it seems, is bagging the right sponsor.

 

Barriers to entry for sponsors within theatreland have come from different directions; firstly, many see sponsorship as a taboo that can drive away the younger audience, and therefore brands trying to reach this demographic. Secondly, scepticism from the industry plays a vital role, with many wishing to retain ‘artistic independence’ from sponsors, choosing ones which don’t undermine the ethics they promote. However, over the past ten years with the ever increasing need to adjust, and with the need to attract new audiences, there has been an increase in more corporate sponsorships – has this brought the right brands in and has it benefitted the industry?

 

Subsiding theatre tickets in order to bring in a younger, and larger crowd has been the corner stone of many partnerships in recent years. Travelex’ssponsorship of the National Theatre has lasted for over ten years, offering over 2 million reduced priced tickets, 360,000 of these have been to first time theatre goers. Travelex themselves may not be recognised as the most  desirable sponsor, if you only remember them as taking a large commission off your holiday money at the departure lounge; they do, however, offer a break from a corporate dominated market. Whether you like it, don’t like it or are ambivalent, there is no denying that PWC’s investment in The Old Vic has had a considerable impact on the theatre, especially their investment which focusses upon nurturing young talent. Accenture have also been big supporters of the National, choosing to support more grass roots theatre, and showcasing their tech credentials by designing a touch screen behind the scenes tour of the theatre.

 

Sponsorship by corporates such as Shell and BP, have attracted plenty of criticism over the years with the feeling that this positive publicity is only there to service their corporate image, shining the spotlight away from their environmental records . BP has come under considerable criticism with their sponsorship of the Globe, which has famously been undermined by theReclaim Shakespeare Company who regularly publicise BP’s global mishaps.

 

Sponsorship is part of today’s theatre makeup, and its clearly better off for it financially; however, if their objectives are to be attracting new, younger or more customers then surely they should be looking for brands which represent this. Travelex is a step in the right direction, and shows this can be built by creating more engaging campaigns.


It’s Not Who You Know 10th March, 2014

Three questions you should be asking your sponsorship sales person before you hire them

I have been in far too many pitches where I dread the question and answer period at the end.  This is not because I don’t like answering questions, it’s because the questions are always the wrong ones.  It never fails that when people are looking to hire a sponsorship sales person (regardless of whether it’s an internal hire or contracted external agency) the questions they always ask are the same and include a variation of the following:

“How many brands do you know that you’ll be able to get to sponsor our platform?”

Sometimes the person in question is slyer and the question comes across as:

“In terms of relationships you currently have, how many of those do you think you would be able to approach on our behalf?”

It always comes down to the black book.

Now in theory this makes a lot of sense.  Obviously the more brands they know personally, the easier it will be for that sponsorship salesperson to put your platform in front of them.  However, this doesn’t address the whole point of sponsorship sales.  Sponsorship sales are not transactional – unlike selling socks or vacuum cleaners, you have to understand how to derive value from set assets to drive brand objectives.  Creative thinking is vital.  Sponsorship sales are specific and not all sponsorship platforms are the best fit for all brands.  As such, it becomes less about the relationship and more about how the platform can help the brand meet certain objectives.  Even though I have drinks with the Marketing Director from Pampers, but that doesn’t mean they are going to sponsor Tough Mudder just because I asked politely over cocktails.

In addition, any sponsorship sales person or sponsorship sales agency who has lasted longer than 1 year will inevitably have a good black book. And even if they don’t have a strong black book in your specific sector, they will know quite easily how to build one quickly.  That is after all, what they do and why there are at the pitch to begin with.

So rather than waste time on answers that really won’t make too much of a difference to your end result, here are the top 3 questions you should be asking:

  1. How long is your longest running client and why have they stayed with you for so long?
  2. Have you ever lost a client because of not meeting your sales targets?  *To note, there are many variables that can affect sponsorship sales so if someone hasn’t met targets I wouldn’t write them off.  Instead, try to understand whether they took on the project without being transparent to their client about their own concerns such as pricing that is overvalued or timing that is unrealistic.
  3. What do you think the key USP of our platform is and what type of brands do you think it would attract?

Happy hiring!


Slingshot Sponsorship signs Warranty Direct as Headline Sponsor of the What Car? Awards for a third consecutive year 26th February, 2014

For a third consecutive year What Car? has announced that Warranty Direct will again act as Headline Partner for the What Car? Awards –  Europe’s leading and most prestigious automotive awards programme showcasing the best new car releases from that year.

 

The What Car? Car of the Year Awards are the most coveted accolades in the automotive industry. The Awards are presented to cars that set the highest standards in their sector after being put through the toughest, most rigorous tests by the most experienced team in the business.

 

The benefits of the sponsorship deal includes the alignment with the most authoritative and trusted brand in motoring, brand positioning and awareness, extensive PR opportunities, networking  and brand association to the awards via a multi-channel promotional campaign.

 

Chris Lowe, What Car? ‘Publisher’ said: “We are delighted to be working with Warranty Direct for the third consecutive year, which is the industry’s leading provider of direct consumer warranties.”

 

Duncan McClure Fisher, managing director of Warranty Direct Ltd, said: “We are looking forward to working alongside What Car? as headline partner for another year of the awards.  The Awards themselves set a benchmark within the industry and it is an honour to be a part of such a prestigious event.  We also hope car buyers investing in these award winning cars will want to look after them and that Warranty Direct warranties will be their first port of call.”

 

Chris Lowe continued: “Winning a What Car? Award is good for a car maker’s business. The authority of the What Car? brand sells cars, plain and simple. It adds power to advertising and marketing campaigns and is a huge draw for customers.”

 

The What Car? Car of the Year Awards event is attended by more than 1,400 leading industry figureheads alongside the most influential motoring correspondents from the wider media.

 

The event is to be held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on January 7, 2015 with top-class entertainment yet to be announced. Previous headline acts have included Jonathan Ross, Jimmy Carr, Al Murray, Jo Brand and last year Jack Whitehall.



Hammerson shopping centres to host national sustainability roadshow – The Big Positive Weekend 24th February, 2014

Hammerson, the owner of some of the UK’s best known shopping centres, is launching a nationwide sustainability roadshow called The Big Positive Weekend.

 

Aiming to reach 2 million customers and inspire 200,000 positive pledges, The Big Positive Weekend celebrates the great things people and brands are doing for our communities and our environment.  The roadshow is designed to leave visitors inspired and motivated to take small actions that add up to a big positive impact.

 

The first road show of its kind to be staged by a retail property owner will visit nine of Hammerson’s shopping centres across the country throughout June, July and August, which attract over 200 million consumers a year. The Roadshow will start at West Quay in Southampton and include London’s Brent Cross and Bullring in Birmingham. With a combined  audience of over 6 million people, The Big Positive Weekend promises to give great ideas and advice on how to not only be more sustainable but also save money.

 

The headline sponsor for the Roadshow is Nationwide Building Society. Nationwide has been working hard to reduce its environmental impact and is keen to help individuals do the same, through its Green Homes Guide, which provides practical tips for sustainable homes. E.ON, the energy partner sponsoring the event, will have advisors on hand to help people use no more energy than they need by sharing energy-saving tips, demonstrating smart meters, and discussing free and discounted energy efficient measures which shoppers may be entitled to.

 

Shoppers will be able to engage with an array of different sustainability focussed activities and displays at each centre, all manned by our Big Positive Ambassadors.  As well as activities from our partners, shoppers can become part of a digital photo gallery of ‘positive people’ created live during the event and look at some of the most ‘positive products’ available from Hammerson retailers.

 

Louise Ellison, Hammerson’s Head of Sustainability, commented, “Our shopping centres present a fantastic opportunity to connect with millions of people; using that platform to raise awareness of sustainability in a fun way that inspires positive action, is a logical step for a responsible business.”

 

Stephen Uden, Nationwide’s Head of Citizenship said, “We are delighted to be the lead partner of the Big Positive Weekend and hope that it can inspire people to change their lives and their communities for the better. Nationwide has already engaged over two million of its members in its sustainability work over the last year and the Big Positive project will build on this.”

 

Hammerson is working in partnership with print, logistics and design companies piloting new techniques in order to deliver The Big Positive Weekend as sustainable as possible. Seacourt Printers will be providing print support, and Slingshot Sponsorship is working with Hammerson to source partners that will create a new event on the sustainability calendar.

 

The Big Positive event will be taking place at:

  • WestQuay, Southampton on 14th – 15th June;
  • Brent Cross, London on 21st – 22nd June;
  • Centrale, Croydon on 28th – 29th June;
  • The Oracle, Reading on 5th – 6th July;
  • Highcross, Leicester on 12th – 13th July;
  • Bullring, Birmingham on 19th – 20th July;
  • Union Square, Aberdeen on 26th – 27th July;
  • Silverburn, Glasgow on 2nd – 3rd August.

Bank of America restoring faith in Super Bowl mania 4th February, 2014

Ah, the Super Bowl – the time of the year that makes little to no difference to my life, apart from on Monday, whenAdweek provides us with the glory of the previous evening’s ad-off; with the added bonus of no touchdowns in between.

This year, we bore witness to a Clydesdale horse falling in love with a puppy and (to many people’s dismay) another showing of Bob Dylan selling a car.  Dylan sticking it to the man aside, the ad that struck me most was that of Bank of America.  The Bank used its prized slot as an opportunity to launch the company’s partnership withAIDS charity (RED).  The 60 second slot showcased U2 with the release of their first track in 5 years, ‘Invisible’  and directed fans to download the track for free off iTunes for 24 hours after the ad’s airing, with Bank of America donating $1 for every download (up to $2 million).

The showcasing of this partnership leads perfectly from the piece Patrick Nally wrote last week for #Synergy30.   Within the article, Nally makes the crucial argument that for the sponsorship industry to progress, it ‘needs to be directly involved in the debate and examination of the relationships between sports and the worlds of commerce, education, technology, governments and politics and society in general.’  For me, this 60 second ad did just that.  The Super Bowl had the world at their feet on Sunday (well, until the second half) and granted Bank of America, U2 and (RED) a platform not only to gain global exposure, but to raise awareness and funds for the charity.

What is emphasised through this partnership is the endless opportunity for corporates to use sponsorship/advertising at global sporting events as a platform for greater good.  Through the ad slot, over 3 million free downloads were purchased on iTunes – reaching the $2 million mark within hours, encouraging Bank of America to continue donating further into the night.  Such an overwhelming response to this partnership emphasises the influence corporates, global sporting events and even aging Irish rock stars can generate when given the right opportunity.  Of course, the Super Bowl is at the highest end of the spectrum, but what we need now is for more rights holders to offer platforms that can facilitate these partnerships, and for sponsors to recognise the undeniable value in them.


Is this not old news? The Evening Standard’s article: Goalposts shift as sponsorship game turns more complex? 2nd February, 2014

It was refreshing to read a sponsorship article in a national paper that did not have to do with how much a brand paid for their recent premier league football kit deal.  However what surprised me was not the content of the article in question, but the amount of tweets that included the words “fascinating” and “amazing” from those working in the sponsorship industry that followed.

For those of you who haven’t read it, the article outlines how the advancement of marketing technology has shifted how brands communicate to their audiences.  With Barclays pulling out of Boris Bikes and Vodaphone’s recent announcement of dropping F1 to launch their Firsts programme, this is clearly becoming big news. However, this should not be a surprise to those in the industry as it has been going on (albeit in smaller incubator-type projects) for awhile.

This shift is the reason I launched Slingshot and despite these large budgets being pulled out of single properties, I echo chief executive of M&C Saatchi Sport and Entertainment Steve Martin’s comment as we too, “have never been busier”.  This is because sponsorship still remains the best way to engage with audiences by creating emotional engagement beyond traditional advertising.

In the past four years, Slingshot has worked with a number of brands who have slowly been siphoning budget out of their larger media–based sponsorships into tester projects that have deeper engagement, allowing their internal teams the opportunity to become more creative with the rights they purchase.  Our results have enabled our clients to prove the value of this type of sponsorship (away from badging into engagement) against what they have previously been doing, driving larger budgets into more innovative projects year on year.

The drive for brands to innovate is leading this shift and in reference to the article’s ‘earned’ vs ‘paid’ media argument, there remains a great opportunity for the sponsorship industry.  As noted in the article, it is now becoming easier for brands to create their own platforms; however, the cost and typically the lack of direct knowledge in these areas significantly increases the risk.  Sponsorship can support this drive and really is what sponsorship should be about – working collaboratively to create something unique through the synergy of two of more organisations. With these types of sponsorships, the lines between rights holder and sponsor become blurred as the benefits derived from both are not just equal, but significant.

This is only the beginning of what will inevitably become a major shift in the traditional sponsorship model.


Football Sponsorship in Brazil Grows Up 23rd January, 2014

With Brazil becoming ever more present in global sponsorship discussions due to securing the upcoming World Cup and Olympics, sponsorship professionals abroad need to be aware of this growing market.  Specifically how Brazilian brands have previously been choosing sponsorship rights to how those rights are being activated in South America.  More importantly, with Brazil acting as the next global stage for some of the largest global brands – understanding their desire and ability to become more strategic in their approach to create more sustainability in sponsorship beyond the upcoming events.

Football in Brazil remains the sport that receives the majority of sponsorship investment and therefore would be expected to be the industry leaders in terms of activation and strategy.  However,  football still remains poorly activated as an engagement platform by both football clubs and brands.  More surprising is that the tactics used within football are not substantially more advanced than many of the other sponsorship platforms such as art and culture which retain a fraction of investment.

Valuation within this market seems to be the key downfall for rights owners – specifically within football clubs in terms of their property rights and additional commercial assets outside of kit deals.  For brands; it is largely due to poorly planned activation strategies.  Many of the deals are tactical in nature, which extrapolates the problem of long-term vision and the necessary time to truly derive value from the assets purchase.  Unfortunately the combination results in a lack of value for the audience, the brands and the clubs themselves – undeniably reducing the true value these partnerships can generate in Brazil.

It seems that in the most part, Brazil is heavily afflicted by a cultural problem that affects not only football, but sponsorship as an industry in the South American market.  Many brands in Brazil still purchase sponsorship and invest in properties within the same principals and frameworks as their media buys – making tactical as well as individual preferences based solely on the need to generate brand exposure with very little strategic insight.  As an industry, Brazil is missing real-world experience in activating strategies that really connect brands to their audiences and tend to play it safe opting for more traditional activation through media advertising.

However the desire to start utilising sponsorship’s ability to harness online engagement and experiential is growing ever apparent.  The next coming months will be telling – watch this space!

Slingshot Sponsorship signs Carphone Warehouse as Headline Partner of Award-Winning Spring Online Campaign 22nd January, 2014

After the success of last year’s partnership, Digital Unite has announced that Carphone Warehouse will again act as Headline Partner for Spring Online, one of the UK’s leading digital inclusion campaigns which will run from 31st March – 4th April 2014.

Around 7 million people across the UK have never used the internet, of which just over 6 million are aged over 55 years. Many more can’t do basic online tasks such as send an email or browse the web.

Since 2002, Digital Unite’s Spring Online campaign has sought to inspire people, particularly older people, to achieve a lasting use of the internet by supporting volunteers and organisations to hold hundreds of free internet taster events across the UK.  Last year around 1,000 Spring Online events were held helping over 20,000 people to get online.

The successful partnership between Carphone Warehouse and Spring Online 2013 saw a number of Carphone Warehouse stores actively participate in the campaign with their own Spring Online events.   One store in particular, Carphone Warehouse Billericay , received a Spring Online 2013 Best Event Award for its enthusiasm and commitment to the initiative as the in-store team hosted their event on a Sunday when the store is normally closed.  Such was the success and interest by local people that the Billericay store has continued to remain open one Sunday every month to help more people learn about digital technology.

Kesah Trowell, CSR Lead at Carphone Warehouse said “Getting to grips with technology can be daunting for many older people yet they can have the most to gain, whether it’s keeping in touch with friends and family, internet shopping and banking or finding out about community events and activities. At Carphone Warehouse we’ve been guiding people through the complexities of the connected world for 25 years and are keen to share our knowledge and experience to help combat digital and social exclusion”.

Now in its 13th year, the Spring Online campaign has been instrumental in successfully helping tens of thousands of people make technology a part of their everyday lives and helped even more so through the partnership with Carphone Warehouse.  Carphone Warehouse’s sponsorship of the Spring Online campaign will be administered by Digital Unite’s charitable arm, the Digital Unite Trust.

Judith Graham, Operations Manager for Spring Online said: “We are delighted to have Carphone Warehouse as Headline Partner for Spring Online again this year.  The way the stores took time out from business as usual to get involved in the campaign and effectively meet the needs of local older people was terrific. We’re looking forward to building on these successful foundations with Carphone Warehouse to help even more people in 2014.”


The Happy Gilmore Approach to Brand Ambassadorship 21st January, 2014

For every effective brand ambassador deal that adorns the pages of Marketing Week, much of the time I’m left thinking: ‘why is Rory Mcillroy talking to me about mortgages?’ or ’what is Pele doing in a fast-food sandwich chain eating a foot-long sub?’

The point being that I don’t believe that:

The result: a contrived set of dialogue that doesn’t add any weight to convincing me to bank with Santander or to buy a Subway sandwich.

For me, the best endorsement deals are natural ones, a.k.a. the Happy Gilmore approach (as shall become apparent later). When you believe that the athlete or artist in question feels passionately about the brand they’re promoting, it illustrates the quality of the product to the consumer and makes them feel the desired way towards it. For example, if Gordon Brown bored me to death about the validity of Royal Bank of Scotland’s fixed-rate mortgage rates vs their tracker ones, or James Corden waxed lyrical about how he eats a six-inch Meatball Marinara sub ‘as a snack’ I’d be more inclined to believe them and thus, trust and feel positively toward the service or product that they were promoting.

In order to showcase what I mean by a natural brand ambassador, I’ve compiled five of my favourite brand ambassador deals – all of which came about due to the ambassador’s existing passion for a product, before the sponsor and their cheque books came knocking.

  • 1. Mo Farah and Quorn

Tasked with changing the perception of Quorn from a ‘veggie’ food to a nutritional alternative to meat, the company needed a brand ambassador that was strong and athletic but was also a genuine eater of Quorn. Once the company’s researchers found that Mo Farah had used Quorn as part of the training regime that saw him win two gold medals at the London Olympics – they jumped at the opportunity.  Quorn invested significant funds into the campaign to highlight how effective Quorn can be as part of the average (and the not so average) person’s diet. The partnership worked so well that they plan to use Mo in a series of television adverts throughout 2014. The first release, which came out on New Year’s Day, is a fantastic showcase of how Mo uses Quorn in his diet to beat the rest of the field.

 

  • 2. George Foreman and the George Foreman Grill

Contrary to public belief, George Foreman did not actually invent the ‘lean, mean, fat grilling machine.’ Rather, he was approached in the earliest stages of design and was partly responsible for the machine’s thirty degree tilt – a technique his wife used to reduce the amount of fat consumed during the family’s weekly burger nights. Foreman was also infamous for eating two reduced-fat hamburgers before each fight, including his comeback in 1994, aged 45, in which he retained the World Heavy-weight World Championship, making him the ideal ambassador to promote the machine’s ‘miraculous’ fat-reducing capabilities.

 

  • 3. Run DMC and Adidas

Hip-hop music arguably has a stronger links to fashion than any other musical genre, with numerous tracks named after artist’s favourite footwear, hat or sunglasses. Indeed, no partnership was more iconic than Adidas’ sponsorship of the Queens’ based trio: Run DMC. Initially borrowed from prison ‘fashion’, the group became famous for wearing Adidas sneakers without shoelaces. This was followed up with ‘My Adidas’ – the first single of their third album: Raising Hell. With the group firmly established as one of the best-selling hip hop groups of all time, Adidas partnered with Run DMC for $1.6million and made a long-term strategic allegiance both to Run-DMC and hip-hop throughout the 90s.

 

  • 4. Example and Nandos

Following a tongue in cheek video professing his love for the Portguese food chain’s peri-peri chicken, back in 2010, Nando’s created a special black loyalty card that gave Example the spicy chicken goodness whenever he feels like it. In order to repay what most inner-city dwellers would give their left ear for, Example performed four acoustic sets at carefully selected restaurants across London. Since 2010, Example has continued to tweet his stalker-like devotion for his favourite chicken eatery, acting as priceless, genuine promotion of the now universal restaurant chain.

 

  • 5. Happy Gilmore and Subway

Lastly, and arguably the most natural endorsement deal to date: the Happy Gilmore and Subway partnership. The eagerness in his voice, the knowing look of excitement in his eyes as to what awaits and his delicate grasp of his treasure, all show that there is no greater fan of Subway’s Turkey Club sandwich. In direct contrast to Pele’s rather awkward Subway deal, you believe that Happy Gilmore would stroll into a Subway on a Monday afternoon and demolish a foot-long Turkey sandwich… and that makes me want a Turkey Sub.


Fuel the Gap – Evaluating Public Transport Sponsorship 9th January, 2014

The rather abrupt end to Barclays intended 8 year partnership with London’s cycle hire scheme has amplified the vehemently contested debate surrounding public transport sponsorship. With rumours circulating as to why the Barclays sponsorship deal has been halted, it poses the question – is there value in public transport sponsorship?

According to a recent poll, 82% of Londoners support an increase in sponsorship across the public transport sector – this statistic seems even more surprising when you realise that the poll included the acquisition of naming rights for tube stations. Public support aside, it seems that brands are taking to the idea. Samsung recently trialled a month-long partnership with Madrid’s ‘Puerta del Sol’ Metro Station (more info) – a partnership which was then acquired by Vodafone to become ‘Vodafone Sol’ after the telecoms giant purchased the naming rights for a reported 1 million Euro a year deal, to the dismay of many Madrilenians.

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There’s no doubt that this sponsorship has been effective in generating an additional revenue stream, one that has been crucial for the cash-strapped Spanish transport authority. A similar approach in London would almost single-handedly allow the cap on fare increase which we, the general public, so desperately crave. Yet despite the benefit for the general public, it is sometimes hard to find the true value for sponsors in the public transport industry. To demonstrate this, one need look no further than London Transport’s other high profile sponsorship deal, The Emirates Air Line.

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The project was originally billed as an entirely self-financing transport link for commuters and tourists alike costing £25 m; but by the time of completion this had risen dramatically to £63 m.

Whilst Boris Johnson’s enthusiasm for one of his signature projects continues, it would be surprising to hear such continued positivity from Emirates. If recent usage figures are anything to go by, it is difficult to see where Emirates can draw any positives from their association. Statistics show that the transport link is running at an average capacity of around 1 %. Despite this monumental drop, during 2012 the Emirates Air Line was one of London’s premier tourist attractions and generated a vast amount of exposure for the company. Short-term successes aside, surely when Emirates put pen to paper on the 10 year deal, they were hoping for more long-term rewards rather than the ‘flash in the pan’ success they received.

So as a sponsorship campaign, what does the future hold for The Emirates Air Line and is there any danger of Emirates ‘doing a Barclays?’ If Boris thought Emirates got him out of a hole with the shortfall, then in more recent times they have landed him in another one, with the much-publicised controversial contractual details that was implemented by the UAE. The contract appeared to exclude Israel from business with TFL. In some peoples’ eyes, what was once a popular tourist attraction has now become a symbol of hatred towards Israel.

Industry trends suggest that creative and selective campaigns often out-trump heavy-handed broadcast branding. This is not to say, however, that every project of this scale in the public transport industry is doomed for failure, it just suggests that the industry needs to develop. If the industry can learn anyth