EDF Energy Signs as Headline Sponsor of the What Car? Green Awards 2012 29th August, 2012

The What Car? Green Awards 2012 will take place on September 19 at the Imagination Gallery, London, and will be sponsored by EDF Energy.

The What Car? Green Awards include the best green cars in each category, as well as an overall winner. The What Car? judging team evaluate more than just CO2, because cars emit a whole concoction of polluting gases, including nitrous oxides and particulates. The judges will also evaluate whole-life costs, driveability and reliability.

Awards will be given for the best supermini, small family car, family car, executive car, MPV, alternative-fuel car, SUV, fun car and an overall winner.

“Electric vehicles demonstrate important developments that have been made in low-carbon motoring,” said Angus Wilby, Head of Energy Services at EDF Energy. “As the largest producer of low-carbon electricity in Britain and provider of electric vehicle recharging solutions for homes and businesses, EDF Energy’s sponsorship of the What Car? Green Awards is the perfect opportunity for us to demonstrate our commitment.”

As Britain’s largest producer of low-carbon electricity and with considerable electrical and engineering experience within its workforce, EDF Energy is playing a leading role in facilitating the development of PIV recharging technology and infrastructure. This is being achieved by working and consulting widely with motor manufacturers, chargepoint manufacturers, and central and local government offices to help bring about effective recharging solutions.

What Car? publishing director Andrew Golby said: “The What Car? Green Awards advise an increasing number of motorists looking for greener motoring. The industry is delivering ever-greener and cleaner cars, and our awards will help narrow down the choice for consumers in what can be a complex arena.”

What Car? named the Vauxhall Ampera its overall winner in 2011, as well as the best alternative-fuel car.

Digital Unite Appoint Slingshot Sponsorship as Exclusive Sponsorship Agency 20th August, 2012

Following the use of Slingshot’s insightful one day Sponsorship Boot Camp, Digital Unite and Spring Online, the UK’s leading digital inclusion platform, have appointed Slingshot Sponsorship as their exclusive sponsorship agency.

Slingshot Sponsorship will be working with Digital Unite in order extend and exploit the commercial opportunities presented by the Spring Online campaign which features over 2,500 events nationwide between April 22nd – 26th 2013 as well as additional commercial opportunities within Digital Unite as a whole.

With over 8 million people still digitally excluded in the UK, many of which being over 55, Spring Online provides a free, safe, and enjoyable environment for those people who consider themselves digitally excluded to receive free IT tutorials – these including lessons in how to use such key communication tools as Skype and Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family as well as how to use the internet for a range of everyday tasks that many of us take for granted including shopping, banking and watching television.

Slingshot Sponsorship will be extending the commercial assets offered by the campaign, adding value to brand partnerships with key benefits including nationwide exposure, unique CSR opportunities and the chance to establish an early relationship with a growing age demographic.

Jackie Fast, Managing Director of Slingshot Sponsorship, commented:

Following the success of our recent work with Digital Unite at our introductory Slingshot Sponsorship Boot Camp, we are thrilled to be working on next year’s Spring Online campaign and to have the opportunity to contribute towards narrowing the digital divide.

Spring Online is a highly unique campaign, proving testament to the ever increasing number of ways in which sponsorship can be utilised and leveraged in order to improve businesses as a whole. Given the value and scope for involvement offered by the platform, we are excited to explore the prospect of some truly ground-breaking partnerships in 2013.

Emma Solomon OBE, Managing Director of Digital Unite, commented:

We are delighted to be working with Slingshot Sponsorship on our award-winning Spring Online campaign.

Over the last eleven years, Spring Online has been instrumental in helping tens of thousands of people understand and engage with computers and the internet. Local events held right across the UK reach people from a wide cross-section of society, from the over 55s who have never been online to existing users of all ages who want to brush up on their existing skills and learn more, from rural to inner-city areas. Our fantastic Spring Online event holders provide that essential support and help show learners how digital technology can be relevant for them.

“We continue to develop Spring Online to make it bigger and better each year. Our vision is that ever increasing numbers of local events support more and more communities across the UK to make the most of the digital world – and to really enjoy it too. We are thrilled to be working with Slingshot and to be developing the creativity, dynamism and reach of Spring Online with them.

Olympic Sponsorship: Remember the Positives 30th July, 2012

Whilst awareness of Olympic-association is of course growing for official sponsors of the Games, the recent controversy surrounding LOCOG’s increasingly stringent sponsorship policies and the subsequent public outrage is resulting in certain sponsorships becoming dangerously close to having an adverse effect on certain brands – quite a significant problem after investing hundreds of millions with the aim of using the platform to enhance brand perceptions.

Although some sponsors may have demanded a little too much exclusivity i.e. Visa and McDonalds, the latest issues have taken complaints to a new level. The first concerns Coca-Cola and Lord Coe’s comment stating that attendees ‘probably wouldn’t be walking in (to the Olympic Village) with a Pepsi T-shirt’ which is, of course, ridiculous. Despite the off-chance of hundreds of fans herding into the Village wearing Pepsi-branded clothing, this would have miniscule, if any, effect on either brands’ perception or the Olympic campaigns, activations and initiatives executed by Coca-Cola. The second issue is the numerous events proving to be half empty due to ticket allocations not being utilised – this resulting in understandable public outrage however the blame spreads across multiple parties including National Olympic Committees, the IOC and the media in addition to sponsors.

With a negative cloud beginning to descend over the concept of sponsorship in general, I wanted to add to the refreshing comments of Evening Standard Editor, Sarah Sands’ recent article shedding some light on why ‘sponsors are the good guys not the villains’.

On the whole, sponsors are providing vital products and services to the Olympics whilst simultaneously raising awareness of the event in all corners of the world. Acer, the official computing equipment partner of the Games, has been responsible for the installation of an enormous technology infrastructure – no small feat and a significant cost saved for LOCOG. Likewise for GE who have contributed heavily towards key infrastructures across transportation, energy, lighting and medical equipment. Coca-Cola, despite the controversy over branding and health, have invested millions in grass roots sports and vow that 75% of their products consumed at the Games will be sugar-free. With significant value being added by all Olympic partners, the positives of sponsorship significantly outweigh the negatives. (Of course, there is also the added benefit that they provide hundreds of millions of pounds in revenue and in turn lower the cost of the Games to the tax-payer.)

It is important to remember that the art of successful sponsorship is creating a relationship that simultaneously benefits the sponsor, the audience and the rights holder with it ultimately being the responsibility of the latter i.e. LOCOG to get as close to this harmonious balance as possible.

The Olympic Committee is evidently yet to find this balance with certain partners but when weighing up the pros and cons, sponsors cannot be viewed as the bad guys. After all, despite recently sympathising with protesters, Jacques Rogge hits the nail on the head when stating that “Quite simply, staging the Olympic Games would not be possible without our partners.”

Leverage vs. Rights: The Evolution of Sponsorship Spend 19th July, 2012

A weekend showcasing two of this year’s biggest boxing showdowns has prompted a blog looking further into sponsorship’s very own rights holder rivalry: the niche underdog versus the undisputed mass appeal property.

As sponsorship history goes, the large-scale established property has always been the primary choice for bigger brands to use as a marketing platform with such rights holders offering more exposure, better hospitality and a more expansive opportunity for activation than the smaller properties out there. However, brands are beginning to adopt a new approach by increasingly taking the power in their own hands via focusing investment towards leverage. No brand has received more success in this area of marketing than Red Bull. By taking ownership of smaller, less mainstream, properties from breakdancing to cliff-diving, the energy drink has been able to take control of brand messaging; completely tailoring their sponsorship, and the property, towards the values of their target demographic. With such success in publicising their presence within the actions sports arena, the brand has even gone one step further with the creation of Red Bull Media House, a platform allowing for extended communication of exclusive Red Bull content across TV, mobile, digital and print.

Where once it was a typical Haye vs. Chisora situation, where all bets and confidence were placed within the bigger name, brands are opening up to the concept of taking the side of the underdog, using their own financial and marketing resources to aggressively infiltrate the market, creating a more Garcia vs. Khan type scenario.

Despite 22% of global sponsors only investing in pure sponsorship rights with no leverage, the ratio of activation investment compared to rights currently stands at an all-time high of 1.7:1. So what is the reasoning behind brands shifting investment towards leveraging their sponsorships? Quite simply, when executed properly, activation spend is inextricably linked to return on investment. The more relevant a brand can make itself to an audience’s personal interests, the more likely the audience is going to buy into the concept. By working its way into the lifestyle fabric of a key demographic, a brand will naturally become the preferred choice among the numerous options available to the consumer.

As an energy drink, Red Bull has created a brand image that personifies stimulation and rebellion, pushing the boundaries in everything they do and showcasing the product’s core function on a truly emotional level. This innovative approach has in turn ensured that the original energy drink has continued to dominate the market, with competitors from Monster to Relentless all playing catch-up to Red Bull’s 42% market share – a true testament to the benefits of sponsorship leverage.

The Blurring of Sports & Entertainment Marketing 12th July, 2012

We recently saw the launch of Manchester City and Umbro’s kit for the 2012-13 season with a little help from City’s most famous supporter, Noel Gallagher. This is yet another example of crossover between the two key industries for sponsorship spend which prompts the question: what does this blurring of sports and entertainment really mean for sponsors?

Sport has always been a form of entertainment however the two concepts were once treated as two separate entities. Sport was solely about the display of athleticism whilst entertainment strictly referred to music, film and other performance-based art forms.

Sports stars are now entertainment personas, using their sporting foundations to build brands that extend way beyond their reason for being famous in the first place. Whether this means becoming a commentator, designing their own fashion labels or trying their hand at acting (Michael Jordan in Space Jam has to be worth a mention), sporting personalities along with their sponsors are exploiting markets that lie increasingly further away from sport, thus introducing the industry to new territories whilst continuing to pull the two worlds of sport and entertainment even closer together.

What does this mean for sponsors?

Sponsors are in turn benefiting from athletes promoting their brand in front of a range of audiences, making endorsement deals more valuable than ever. The activity of athletes off the field, court, track or any other sporting arena has also heightened considerably, giving brands a more continual relationship with the personality they are associating with. Social media platforms, especially Twitter, are providing athletes with a voice away from the field of play, resulting in a 24/7 dialogue with fans. Brand association and messaging are therefore becoming significantly more impactful with athletes personally posting images, videos and comments relating to the products they use.

Sport as a whole has also seen a transition as leagues and tournaments have been opened up to new markets; going on tour just as a musician would. With the success of such worldwide exhibitions as the Harlem Globetrotters, the NFL is now staging a season game at Wembley and drawing a sell-out crowd every year. Proposals for the Premier League to go global have also been brought to attention in recent years and with an increasing ratio of international to English players and managers, it would appear inevitable that we can expect to see games from the world’s greatest domestic football league being played in international cities from New York to Hong Kong. This will in turn attract brands with no previous ties to the sport, opening up the game to a whole host of additional markets around the globe.

What to expect for the future

Traditional sports are now experiencing a transition into a genre more similar to that of bull fighting and wrestling with athletes thriving off the opportunity to engage with the crowd. This is in turn broadening the commercial awareness of sporting professionals, making them more susceptible to working with sponsors in order to design, brand and market their products.

Moving forward, we can expect to see a vast change in the existing sports marketing landscape. Athletes and brands will continue to increase their online presence whilst promoting their sponsorships on a truly global stage with (what were) domestic competitions taking place from all corners of the world.

Sports sponsorship is still very much focused around the ideology of winning, success and excellence along with reaching global markets, however, with athletes becoming more of a lifestyle interest, we can expect to see some unusual brands popping up in this arena in years to come. This year we have already seen Rovio, the creator of the addictive Angry Birds app, sponsoring Caterham F1’s Heikki Kovalainen in Monaco as well as The Dark Knight Rises, the latest Batman film, joining forces with Lotus at Silverstone – two true testaments to the convergence of sports and entertainment.

Checking-In to Sponsorship with Maps & Social Media 4th July, 2012

With branding and exposure only being part of the modern day sponsorship picture, the focus for brands now lies on new and innovative ways to interact and engage with consumers. Via the use of social media and mapping applications, brands are increasing audience engagement by tapping into their key interests whilst providing the opportunity to play a role and effect change within a campaign.

How are maps and social media being utilised?

Competitions and promotions offer a return for the audience with consumers being tasked with finding clues and unlocking codes in order to be in with a chance to win a reward. The key reason for engagement here, along with the resulting success of the campaign is that this is much more than being entered into a prize draw and getting lucky. Here, consumers are given a platform to compete and earn prizes, rather than simply win them.

Alternatively, games and applications are being used to task the key demographic with using a campaign in order to gain access to exclusive content. Different forms of digital entertainment are generally the ‘bait’ with consumers having the chance to unlock content including videos, music and games.

Example: Competitions

Consumers are now constantly being encouraged to compete with one another in order to win prizes; a great example of this being Evian’s recent campaign surrounding their 2012 Wimbledon Championships sponsorship. The public were given the opportunity to win tickets to this year’s tournament via hunting down a Wimbledon ball boy at large and checking-in via their social media accounts once finding him and receiving a numbered tennis ball.

Clues were posted on Evian’s Facebook and Twitter pages as to the ball boy’s whereabouts with a number being announced as the winner of VIP tickets at the end of each day.

Example: Social Gaming

Thanks to social media, marketers are simply able to launch a campaign and communicate the idea to those closest to the brand, with consumers then doing the leg-work to increase both exposure and engagement.

A perfect example of this would be a campaign mentioned before on the Slingshot blog but a perfect case study all the same: “Decode Jay-Z (Powered by Bing)”.

With Microsoft’s Bing search engine looking to increase their relevance with a younger audience, this campaign consisted of taking pages and scenarios from Jay-Z’s soon-to-be-released autobiography and bringing them to life at the range of locations documented in the book. This included a page printed on the bottom of a Miami swimming pool, plates from Jay-Z’s favourite restaurants and even custom-made Gucci jackets.

With clues being released daily via Facebook, Twitter and Radio, users were then encouraged to find real-life images of each page in each location using Bing’s Search and Maps tools and piece together the story on a dedicated micro-site for the campaign.

By using a relevant subject relating to the target demographic (Jay-Z), Bing were able to truly engage the audience with play time averaging eleven minutes. With Jay-Z’s Facebook ‘Likes’ increasing by over one million and his Decoded autobiography featuring on the Best Sellers List for nineteen straight weeks, Bing witnessed a visit increase of 11.7% in one month.

Why are such campaigns so successful?

Social media and maps are allowing for a whole new category of marketing in which communication of brand messaging is delegated to key brand fans. The most loyal consumers are now working on behalf of the brand in order to spread the word and pull others into the campaign, whilst encouraging these new ‘recruits’ to go out and do the same.

Unbeknown to the consumer, both brand awareness and credibility are being increased and improved via the use of location tagging, posts and tweets, reviews, image and video uploads and more. This in turn creates a buzz among the target demographic, initiating a mass shift in both brand perception and buying behaviour.

By using a relevant point of interest and in turn heavily engaging the audience, a consumer feels that a brand understands their preferences and will therefore cater to these needs and wants upon using their product or service. Trust, and in turn loyalty, are therefore instilled as the brand builds a reputation for giving the people what they want.

Given the effectiveness of digital marketing campaigns and their increasing role within today’s sponsorship model, consumers can be sure to look forward to more engaging competitions, rewards and exclusive content from their favourite brands in campaigns to come.

Jackie Fast announced as a Judge at the Corporate Engagement Awards 2012 25th June, 2012

The Corporate Engagement Awards is Europe’s leading celebration of corporate partnership, corporate sponsorship and corporate philanthropy. The awards recognise and honour the achievements of companies and agencies who have successfully worked with external companies to raise visibility of their brand and their values.

2012 judges include leaders in the sponsorship industry Steven Atkinson, co-founder of HighTide Festival Theatre; Pippa Collett, Managing Director of Sponsorship Consulting; Rob Jackson, Client Services Director at World Television; Robert Nuttall, Managing Director of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability at MHP Communications; and Simon Watson, Head of Group Community Affairs at RBS Group.

Jackie Fast commented:

I am absolutely delighted to be appointed as a judge for the Corporate Engagement Awards 2012.  There are so many great partnerships taking place and I look forward to helping identify and reward the best in our industry.

Judging will take place during the summer with winners presented at a gala evening in London in September.

Click here for a full list of judges and further information on tickets to the Corporate Engagement Awards 2012.

For a list of last year’s winners, please click here.

Jambo, Jambo Bwana: The Ups & Downs of Mt. Kilimanjaro 14th June, 2012

In October 2011, after toying with the idea for months, the commitment was finally made to tackle Mount Kilimanjaro. In recent weeks, I along with a team of four other brave (ok, incredibly anxious) souls made our way to Tanzania in aid of The Prostate Cancer Charity where thanks to all those who donated we were able to raise a total of £4,466.

With such generous support from the Slingshot team, an account and photos from the trip are long overdue after being thrown back into working life the day after touching back down in the UK. I have, however, now managed to collect my thoughts on the trek with the following providing an insight into the ups and downs that entailed:

Day 1

After receiving a final round of last-minute inoculations (which would only technically kick-in after returning to the UK), I headed to Heathrow, met with the rest of the team and departed for Tanzania. There was a naive feeling of positivity above anything else with all appearing to be confident about the six-day climb that lay ahead – “If Chris Moyles can do it, anyone can.” was the general consensus. This lasted until the transfer at Nairobi.

Now fast approaching Tanzania airport in a small prop-powered plane, we were presented with a bird’s eye view of Kilimanjaro, this prompting a gust of exhale after simultaneously realising the scale of the error that had been made. The two 6am runs the week before that had provided me with a false sense of fitness were obviously not going to help me here.

On arrival, we headed for the town of Moshi, located at the foot of Kilimanjaro. Making our way through numerous small towns made up of shacks and derelict-looking housing, and passing those walking the vast stretches of road in-between, we eventually arrived at the surprisingly swanky hotel. Here we would be introduced to the tour leader simply known as Coleman, who we would later discover was a pretty rare breed (a general rule with single-named people).

He briefed us on the trek ahead, which would apparently be a “piece of cake” – quite confusing after the view from the flight in, however it did provide a false sense of hope and left us with a glimmer of self-assurance going into day two.

Day 2

After a pleasantly surprising English-ish breakfast, we departed for Rongai Gate where we would embark on the first leg of the six day climb ahead. Here we met Joseph, a guy so laidback, I was actually sceptical as to whether he would make it up the mountain himself. Coleman was also present and this would be the first of many instances where he would baffle us with his ability to teleport himself from one camp to the next.

On the initially shallow ascent up to Simba Camp, which took us through thick jungle and featured encounters with local villagers and tree-hopping colobusi (skunk/monkeys), there was no sign of Coleman passing us which was no surprise as he left after us. However, upon reaching camp that evening, the man was somehow casually awaiting our arrival (this later turning out to be a daily occurrence). How amazing can a guy named after a brand of mustard be? Whilst being a perfectly good mustard, I would never associate it with such an adjective.

Day 3

Day 3 entailed a short walk through more jungle; slowly leading into a less green, more grey landscape – quite a confidence boost as we had at least managed to climb further than any vegetation could manage.

On reaching Kikelelwe Camp (Coleman welcoming our arrival), we would have our first experience with long drop toilets. These are squatting toilets, so deep that by the time it hits the ground, you’re ready to go again. Not a highlight of the trip. Moving on…

Day 4

Sunday entailed a four hour morning trek up an increasingly moon-like environment, where we would start to feel a shortening of breath for the first time as a result of the altitude – worrying on Day 4.

Arriving at camp around midday, we would then spend the rest of the afternoon playing football, amongst ourselves at first, and then being joined by the guides who turned out to be surprisingly lively (and incredibly skilful) on their feet despite running up the mountain twice as fast as us. Apparently tourists very rarely brought balls with them and despite surely having no time to practice, it was as if ten clones of Didier Drogba had joined in on our amateur-at-best kick-about (this mainly being due to Al (centre) developing a severe case of ‘Toblerone Feet’ towards the summit, although I’m dubious as to whether this was a result of the altitude or a lifelong case of not being able to control his limbs).

Day 5

Here we crossed a lunar desert, making our way across the ‘Saddle’ between Mawenzi and Kibo, heading for School Camp. This was the last stop before making our final ascent to Uhuru Peak which meant hitting the hay at the unusual time of 5pm.

Day 6

Up at midnight, we were ready to tackle the most demanding hurdle of the trip. I say we, this was everyone accept for my brother who drew the short straw and had to share a tent with Aki, an older member of the group who was adamant that his watch (running two hours early) was correct and so decided to provide a friendly, but seriously premature, wake-up call. Not a great start for my brother who also just so happens to qualify as one of the world’s angriest men.

Pressing on, we began the slow trek up the steep switchbacks worn into the scree. Conversation gradually silenced as every one of us focused on putting one foot in front of the other; all apart from Joseph who ran from front to back singing “Akuna Matata” – a song starting out as a cheerful pick-me-up but later proving to be insanely annoying with the length of our tempers proving to be adversely linked with the length of the climb.

After five long hours of repetitive zig-zagging, we finally reached Gillman’s Point, the edge of the crater lying at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Everyone feeling pretty contented with their achievement, we were under the impression that it was just that bit further round the edge to Uhuru Peak – the highest point of the mountain at 5895 metres. The peak appeared to be only a fraction of the way around the crater and definitely achievable within an hour so we set off on what was supposed to be a casual stroll to a celebratory finish.

After only 100 metres of the way round, the terrain took a severe turn for the worse with us now having to clamber over solid ice made uneven by the countless frozen footprints peppering the path ahead, most of which being at least a foot deep. Nearing 6000 metres from sea level, this got seriously exhausting and by the time we reached the even gravel path to the finish line, simply walking had become a grim chore to say the least.

After multiple counts of people sitting down only to instantaneously doze off, not to mention vomiting along the final stretch, we eventually reached Uhuru! All those hours, well, minutes of training had finally paid off as we stood between the crater of a dormant volcano and a glacier the height of a ten story building.

Now I’d like to say there was a momentous feeling throughout the group, however, as the photo suggests, I think I can speak for everyone when I say we were simply dreading the thought of the trek back down to where we had departed from over nine hours ago!

I’m sure the descent was highly entertaining for the guides, with some of us (naming no names) almost fainting before attempting to make their way down whilst others stumbled along in a drunken, hobo-like manner (Jamie). That being said, we would all eventually make it back to camp where we would be greeted with some biscuits and a two hour sleep before moving on to the next camp. Much appreciated, Coleman!

On arrival at Horombo Hut Camp, we were welcomed with our first beer in six days and when comparing this with reaching the summit, it’s a close call when deciding which was most satisfying. Dinner was followed by an early night given the day endured; ready for our final day of descent back to the finish line at Marangu Gate.

Day 7

Following our send-off in song by the guides, we made our way down back through the jungle at pace, briefly stopping for lunch before pressing onto the finish.

After passing more skunk monkeys and a postcard waterfall, we reached the Gate, still in a slight haze about what was going on given the sleep deprivation and fifteen hour hike endured over the two days prior.

It was at this point that a feeling of real jubilation descended over the group having somehow made it to the very summit and back in one piece. Now, I realise that this is something achieved by numerous people every day however we chose to ignore that fact and bask in our triumph as well as embrace the relief that we were able to uphold our end of the deal with all those who donated.

Days 8 & 9

Thursday and Friday were spent recovering at the hotel and exploring Moshi – a town with an economy seemingly funded by bongos and masks only (euro-zone take note).

We also had to settle tips with the guides, this being a moment that would unravel all the confidence placed in Coleman as the supreme being he had so far demonstrated to be. We had finally found his Achilles heel – accountancy. Maybe straight-forward addition was just too simple for the complexities faced by this man’s mind on a day-to-day basis; however Tom, our professional bean-counter, was luckily on hand to resolve the situation.

The rest of the night would be spent drinking away the pain and explaining to Al that a £5 donation from a good-looking colleague was simply a £5 donation and nothing more.

Day 10

After sleeping in, we would rush to the airport and board the plane feeling victorious in what we had achieved over the last week. Given the serious lack of training beforehand, this felt like a considerable accomplishment and surely one for the history books.

As we strapped in and the propellers of the small prop plane began to turn once again, a voice broke over the loudspeaker, “This is your captain Coleman speaking…”

I would like to say thanks again on behalf of Jack, Alex, Tom, Jamie and myself to all those who donated towards The Prostate Cancer Charity. We have since experienced first-hand the difference made by your donations so please continue to support the cause and be sure to watch this space for the Everest blog!

Thank you.

Sponsorship Measurement: Going Beyond Direct Financial Return 16th May, 2012

With such mixed opinions on whether the efficiency of a sponsorship campaign can truly be measured, this blog separates the more top line, easy-to-measure and less enlightening data from the true indicators of tangible sponsorship success.

Short-Sighted Sums

Q: Why do companies invest in sponsorship?

A: To alter brand perception and/or consumer buying behaviour.

So, why is it such common practice to measure the success of a sponsorship campaign by looking only at the positive or negative difference between sales directly linked to the campaign against the initial sponsorship investment? On the whole, sponsorship, along with any other marketing medium, is used with the overall aim of increasing revenue so it can be easy to only consider the revenue made from such sponsorship activities as promotions, merchandising or on-site sales. Albeit an indicator of success, direct sales are only a small part of a much bigger picture.

This also goes for generic figures e.g. logo impressions, attendance, the size of a newsletter distribution database etc. Whilst important, this is not actually indicating whether consumer behaviour or brand perceptions have been altered. In fact, the real proof lies within the more specific and objective data, providing a much more transparent account of how effective the campaign has actually been.

True Indicators

It is vital that all indicators are set with a strict focus on the short and long term marketing objectives of an organisation. Monetary factors could include new business along with average customer spend, whilst percentages would relate to brand credibility and customer loyalty. There are also additional figures that can act as key engagement indicators such as unique visitors to a dedicated web page or micro-site along with participation in customer promotions. It is important that this data is compared with previous figures and benchmarks as this will indicate change, rather than simply justifying the investment.

There are then the more individual factors such as relationships with key industry figures and institutions whose opinions are a highly influential driving force behind the economics of a particular market place. Whilst impossible to give such indicators a monetary value, these relationships are imperative when considering brand perception.

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

It is important to consider measurement early on, compiling a list of KPIs for each marketing objective before undertaking a sponsorship campaign. These indicators will provide a clear foundation for the sponsorship strategy as well as allow for streamlining throughout the course of the campaign in order to ensure that all activity is as beneficial and relevant to the marketing objectives as possible.

360˚ Analysis

Particularly for larger-scale sponsorships that affect all stakeholders throughout the sponsor’s organisation e.g. consumers, clients, employees etc., a KPI survey allows for feedback on such key criteria as brand profile, activation and overall partnership value.

When distributing the survey to a number of stakeholders with varying degrees of involvement with the campaign, a well-rounded evaluation can be pieced together, providing an overhead view of how the sponsorship is perceived from every angle possible.

This therefore allows for the sponsorship campaign to be executed at as close to maximum efficiency as possible, proving measurement to be an invaluable part of the sponsorship process.

The State of Measurement Today

From a rights holder’s perspective, measurement is unequivocally the key factor in creating strong case studies which in turn improves the likelihood of renewals along with additional sponsorship sales. However, due to a common perception that sponsorship is too much of a multi-faceted marketing medium to be measured, many sponsors have only a vague idea of how beneficial their partnerships actually are and have no real indication of where the room for improvement lies.

With sponsorship spend on the rise along with campaigns becoming increasingly integrated, transparency and ROI are proving to be ever more important in today’s challenging economic climate. This is where specialist sponsorship and marketing analysis agencies are able to demonstrate their true value, working with rights holders and sponsors to implement a structured approach to measurement, providing piece-of-mind in the knowledge that sponsorship is a truly effective marketing tool when executed correctly.