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.