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.


How Virtual Reality Could Boost Sponsorship Sales 16th March, 2017

Virtual Reality use is set to treble by 2020 in the property sales industry, so how can it be used in sponsorship sales?

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 recent sport-related case studies 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, where investors often rather inconveniently live thousands of miles away from the properties they want to view, it can be a very handy tool. 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:

Walking sponsors through an event

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.

Helping sponsors gain clarity on what’s being offered

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 in the boardroom

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.


#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.


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.


Muscular Dystrophy UK appoints Slingshot Sponsorship to drive commercial strategy 5th April, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

 

1st March, 2016

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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.


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.