The Origins of Sponsorship: Financing Scott's Expedition 27th June, 2012

For those of you who don’t know the history of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s ‘Terra Nova’ expedition of 1910 to the South Pole, it is a fascinating story of exploration and the endurance of the human spirit. The expedition was so groundbreaking for its day the only recent comparison to be drawn of what his team overcame would be that of the space race to the moon. The objectives of this expedition were to charter new territory and to pioneer scientific research in polar wildlife and in doing so hoping to answer polemical questions surrounding evolution. Captain Scott, a former naval officer gathered together a team of leading scientists and explorers to accompany him. However, the major obstacle to this expedition was finance. To make this expedition possible, the ever resourceful Scott understood that the power of sponsorship was the key.

In order to reach the South Pole, Scott needed a ship, men and resources for the round trip past Australia and New Zealand which took them a total of eight months each way. This privately funded expedition cost an estimated amount of £40,000 or the equivalent of over £3 million of today’s value. Scott didn’t have the luxury of time either to raise the money, with competition from Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen striving to reach the South Pole first. Scott recognised that the booming newspaper industry of 1910 could be his opportunity and a powerful tool to raise the capital required for the expedition. Scott needed supplies from a range of different brands and suppliers from Heinz to Burberry. He knew that photography on the expedition would not only serve to catalogue the team’s journey and discoveries, however allow for brands to finance and endorse the trip and feature in the burgeoning newspaper industry in support of the mission.

Scott understood the theory of sponsorship, and the opportunities for brand association. Brands such as Bovril, Oxo and Shell petrol not only gained large amounts of exposure in newspaper advertising; however they are credited for making this unprecedented expedition possible.  Sponsorship of the expedition supported key messages for the brands, such as patriotism, advances in scientific research, the importance of home comforts, adventure and survival. Furthermore, what better brand ambassadors than the brave team of explorers of Scott and his team.

Lessons from the past

Although these photos now appear at such odds to present day expeditions of its kind and current marketing messages, the theory and the ingenuity of Scott’s use of sponsorship is still very pertinent in the 21st century. Using an innovative platform to capture the attention of the public with the most engaging medium at your disposal is exactly what Scott achieved. The emergence of the press in Scott’s day has many parallels to the emergence of the digital age in which we live in, and those able to utilise this resource to the best of its ability have been able to reap the rewards.

In this sense the theory of sponsorship at its essence remains very much frozen in time, much like Scott’s hut which has been near perfectly preserved due to the extreme temperatures of the South Pole and which serves as a reminder of the incredible feat Scott and his team achieved.

London 2012 and the cost of Ambush Marketing 29th May, 2012

With just under two months before the long awaited London 2012 Olympic Games begin, the media spotlight is certainly on Britain. Companies across the country are expecting the Olympic Games to have a positive effect on business with the influx of tourists creating a rare opportunity for an expansive global audience. Some companies in the UK simply want their marketing messages to support the Olympic Games as a matter of British pride,  however other companies have less than honest intentions and want to trade off the ‘goodwill’ of the Olympic Games. This exists in the form of ambush marketing where one brand hopes to eclipse the marketing of an existing event sponsor through a publicity stunt to gain exposure, or where a brand attempts to simply ride on the coattails of the Olympic Games hoping the public will perceive an official association.

The truth is that there are some important commercial barriers in place restricting marketing and advertising around the Olympics. Whether your intentions as a business are honest or not, any advertisement from a ‘non-authorised user’ that would lead a member of the public to presume an association to the Olympic Games will result in infringement of the London Olympic Association Right (LOAR) 2006.

Listed Expressions

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) has highlighted the statutory rights for marketing around the Olympics. Companies using the listed expressions in the course of trade, categorised below, will need to do so with care to avoid: removal of their merchandise, unlimited fines, or even a criminal conviction for flagrant abuse of the law.


‘Two Thousand and Twelve’


‘twenty twelve’








The court will take into consideration the following:

Any two of the words in List A such as: “Backing the 2012 Games”


Any word in List A with one or more words in List B such as: “Supporting the London Games”

Ricoh Arena

This legislation has been received both positively and negatively by brands and the public. Some argue that the law is extremely restrictive and the rights assumed by LOCOG are out of their remit. An example where this legislation has been regarded as particularly impractical occurred at the Ricoh Arena, home to Coventry Football Club. This stadium which is hosting football matches during the Olympics  were informed that every non-official Olympic sponsor brand within the stadium, right down to the design of the hand-dryers must be covered up due to a conflict with existing sponsors. According to the facilities manager Antony Mundy, this has left them with a “mammoth task”.

Nike vs Reebok

What LOCOG are trying to protect is ambush marketing and publicity stunts that seem to be common place at competitions such as the Olympic Games. They are right to do so; brands such as Nike have been guilty of ambush marketing with their pop-up ‘Nike Town’ which appeared on the doorstep of the Olympic Park during the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games.  In this instance the result was that 36% of the public believed that Nike, not Reebok were the official sponsors.

2010 FIFA World Cup

The Olympics and the FIFA World Cup have been the prime targets for ambush marketing over recent years. As each competition comes to a close the law has become progressively more robust to prevent those seeking to associate themselves as official sponsors or partners. Some may argue that current measures in the light of ambush marketing are now too protective of the existing sponsors and that marketing around the Olympic Games is trying to negotiate around a minefield. This degree of protection was comically mocked during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. South African budget airline Kulula decided on the marketing slogan ‘The Unofficial Carrier of the You-know What’ in the lead-up of the World Cup. Ironically this still became censored by the FIFA committee.

Does the legislation strike the right balance?

Coming from a professional sponsorship agency, we are well aware of the level of sponsorship that goes into the Olympic Games and the strategy behind the investment from brands. In tough economic times companies are investing large sums of money into the Olympic Games. Brand exposure and exclusivity in your industry is undoubtedly the primary reasons behind sponsorship. To a certain degree it could also be argued that in the spirit of competition, one-upmanship in being the headline sponsor between global brands such Nike and Adidas is just as fierce as the competing that will be seen in the Olympic Park this summer. What we need to remember however is that, money raised from sponsorship amounts to nearly half of the capital required to stage the Olympic Games in the first place. If these brands don’t feel that their investment has been appropriately protected, then the level of support into the Olympic Games is severely jeopardised for future competitions.

We all want the London Olympic Games to run at the best of its ability, for the sake of both the public and the athletes. Furthermore, despite arguments that too much power is afforded to LOCOG, and the level of protection given to official sponsors, London 2012 will undoubtedly undergo some degree of ambush marketing this summer. Whether you agree with the legislation surrounding the Olympic Games or not, it is important to not get caught out unawares of the restrictions in place.

So if in doubt check the legislation:

An Unlikely Alliance? Sauber F1 announce brand partnership with Chelsea FC. 1st May, 2012

Swiss Formula 1 team Sauber announced  yesterday 30/4/2012 a collaboration with Chelsea FC, which was hinted at with elusive messages ‘Out of the Blue’ and ‘True Blue’ that began to appear on the Sauber engine covers during the Bahrain and Chinese Grand Prix. In many ways such an innovative relationship between both sports has been long overdue.

It’s all about timing

Sauber, being a racing team, clearly know the importance of good timing. This agreement has been in the pipeline for at very least a fortnight now, before Chelsea bravely overcame Champions League favourites Barcelona last week. To further infuriate fans of both football and F1 in Barcelona, Sauber will be featuring the Chelsea FC logo (the same week of the Champions league final) for the first time at the Spanish Grand Prix which heralds the beginning of the European Leg of the Formula 1 season. Sauber’s logo will also feature at Chelsea FC on interview walls and advertisement boards at Stamford Bridge.

Some observers may argue that such a partnership endorsing two different teams in very different sports serves no real function, especially when coverage of both sports tend to overlap. West London football club Queens Park Rangers also has an affiliation to F1 in the form of club ownership. Malaysian entrepreneur and owner of Caterham F1 Tony Fernandes purchased his majority shares in the football club from Bernie Eccelstone’s  who in turn purchased his shares from former managing director of Renault F1 Flavio Briatore; however no direct aesthetic associations between the sports exist in such a form until now. So what are the reasons behind such a move?  Sauber CEO Monisha Kaltenborn maintains that “the Sauber F1 Team and Chelsea FC are dealing with many of the same sporting and commercial topics and we want to strengthen each other in these areas. We are looking forward to exploiting these opportunities.”  In addition Chelsea mark their twentieth year in the premiership, as Sauber have made a promising start to this Formula One season, also their twentieth consecutive year as an F1team.

The Incentives

There are clear benefits to be found in striking a deal between these two European sporting institutions and by sharing notes on two of the world’s most lucrative sports. Firstly the science behind sports success is becoming increasingly sophisticated, where the importance of synergy between the backroom staff and the sportsmen in both sports is increasingly noticeable be it in the shape of a pitch-side physio, or a pit-stop mechanic. Secondly, from a commercial standpoint, the coming together of both these sports brands opens great marketing, merchandising and sponsorship opportunities. Both Chelsea and Sauber teams boast an international presence and know the importance of broadening a loyal support base. F1 much like football draws great support and sponsorship from the Middle East and Asia; Chelsea will therefore be looking to further engage with this market.

So in essence the fact that the Grand Prix will not return east until Japan in the middle of September means that the timing of this deal is a move to strengthen the global following of both sports and to increase general dissemination of both sporting brands as the European leg of the F1 season is about to get underway.