The Invisible Brand 17th July, 2012

Sponsorship in the past has focused largely on naming rights and branding. However, increasingly brands are moving their attention away from this approach towards more creative activations and a less ‘visible’ form of sponsorship.

Invisible Sponsorship

Festivals are a good example of where understated sponsorship can be the most effective. With a different music festival virtually every weekend of the summer in the UK, it is no surprise that plenty of brands want a piece of the action.  However, festival sponsorship requires careful consideration on behalf of the brand.

Often a highlight to their summer, people tend to approach festivals with a more relaxed vibe and are therefore more open-minded and receptive which can make sponsorship of these events hugely appealing from a brand perspective. However, too much obvious branding and a lack of relevance to the event could have a negative effect.  Festival goers want to relax and enjoy the music and brands should not make them mistake of trying to get involved if they won’t be perceived as bringing something positive to the experience.

Festival goers complained that gaming brand Xbox’s sponsorship of Bestival was not in line with their outdoor experience and this created a negative perception of Xbox’s involvement with the event. Whereas, alcohol brands have such a good response from sponsorship of festivals because the brand is integrated into the event, and in turn leads to people associating it with their positive experience.

When approaching a sponsorship campaign surrounding an event such as a festival brands should consider:

  • Creating the chance for the audience to experience the brand at the event in a relevant format through experiential activities
  • Amplifying the best attributes of the event through the sponsorship campaign – adding to the experience not taking attention away
  • Providing exclusive content in some form to share with the audience
  • Ensuring the brand has relevance to the event in some format

It is no surprise that the positive environment surrounding festivals continues to entice brands, however, it is important that brands think beyond the obvious message and provide real value to the event in order to gain the crowd’s approval.

Experiential: 3 Ways to Maximise Your Assets 20th January, 2012

With the London 2012 Olympics fast approaching we are due an influx of experiential campaigns in 2012. With headline sponsors of P&G, Coke and McDonald’s taking the majority of the London 2012 marketing opportunities – both in sponsorship as well as ramped up advertising campaigns, other brands will be engaging in shorter term experiential marketing to capitalise on this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Experiential marketing at its basics is a live brand marketing campaign allowing consumers to experience the product through their senses.  It occurs in real time and is a two way communication between the brand and consumer – creating a lasting connection with the brand, which is then amplified through other marketing channels. Experiential activation offers a great way to showcase a brand’s products, or simply demonstrate what the company can offer with immediate feedback.  Some examples of experiential campaigns we’ve run include Tracker’s Photo Booth for the What Car Awards 2012 and the EA Sports’ Game Hub at the London Irish Rugby Club’s St. Patricks Day Party.

Maximising Assets for Experiential Sponsorship Campaigns

1) Brand Positioning

With immediate feedback, experiential activities first need to ensure their audience is the right audience to be receiving feedback from.  Ensure that you are very clear who the target audience is first and then decide how best to reach them and more importantly where to reach them.

Being relevant to the right consumers will provide both the correct feedback, but also will enable you to drive the communications further through additional marketing campaigns.

2) Engagement is Essential

You have to be engaging in activity consumers can relate to and want to engage with. The message and positioning should be clear and concise ensuring cut through.  Providing people an experience that is on brand for the experiential activation, on brand for the company and also on brand for the sponsorship platform will create a cohesive message with all parties building resonance with the audience.

3) Make it Last

Even if your experiential activity is a one-off campaign, ensure you are making the most of it and that you have resources to support this.  If the objective is to create a viral campaign through the experiential activity, do not forget to include a social strategy that will drive this communication forward through user networks and your own company network through user generated content, videos, competitions, etc.

Innovation in UK Sports Sponsorship 21st November, 2011

Each year, towards the climax of rugby union’s most demanding league, the Aviva Premiership, London Irish Rugby Club host their two biggest games of the season The St. Patrick’s and End of Season Parties.

Last year with the aid of Slingshot Sponsorship, London Irish implemented a unique strategy with these games applying a three dimensional model that generated new revenue, promoted fan loyalty and increased the reach and exposure of the club.

These events saw the introduction of live music, entertainment, competitions, food stalls, and brand experiences prior to kick off for the sold-out fans creating a festival experience.  This changed the single match day experience to an entire day out for families and supporters within the Madejski Stadium.

Further to creating a more encompassing day for fans, it has also proved to be an innovative way to allow international, national and local brands to get involved with one of the biggest team names in British sport at a fraction of the fees commonly associated with sports sponsorship.  In doing so, the club has been able to create additional value for fans through this new sponsorship revenue stream supporting activity on those specific game days.

Experiential Brand Activations

In 2011 both events integrated a number of brand partnerships for these two games.  From the EA Sports Hub providing visitors with the chance to experience the latest EA Sports video games in a pop-up gaming station, to McCain Foods’ inflatable Track and Field Road Show giving younger fans a chance to be mentored by professional athletes at a range of disciplines from running and jumping to strength and reaction testing.

Benefits for brands included:

  • Being able to physically connect with the London Irish audience of young families
  • Communicating the brand messaging through the integrated marketing campaigns including game programmes, print, online, and social media
  • A platform to promote positive messages of sport and health
  • Brand exposure for local businesses to reach the community through one of the biggest experiential marketing, advertising and hospitality platforms in the area

2012 and Beyond

By offering the opportunity for sports association at single games, the St. Patrick’s and End of Season parties are attracting growing numbers of partners each year and in turn presenting increased diversity in the event content offered. This is inevitably broadening the team’s fan base; providing a sustainable and growing sponsorship platform, whilst simultaneously building upon the traditions of heritage UK rugby club. With St. Patrick’s Day 2012 seeing Aviva Premiership winners Leicester Tigers come to the Madejski stadium, followed by Gloucester for the final game of the season, London Irish’s two key events of the year are set to be the biggest yet and will no doubt provide the parties to match.