Slingshot: Brand Side. 19th December, 2018

Chances are – if you’re reading this – you’re aware of Slingshot and what we do. Or are you?

Our work with rights holders all over the world has been well documented, whether through our own channels or through numerous industry awards. We have worked as the exclusive sponsorship agency for many of the world’s most innovative platforms to identify and secure strategic brand partnerships. But what may be less known is our brand consultancy service: working also on the other side of sponsorship with global brands to highlight the most relevant partnership platforms in order to achieve the biggest cut-through, awareness and equity.

Our expertise, developed over many years working on the rights-holder side, has led us to understand exactly what brands are looking for when they are considering sponsorship opportunities. Thus, on the flipside we know precisely what assets are needed to be secured to achieve brand marketing objectives, regardless of industry or budget.

How can Slingshot help?

Dream Package:

 A crucial step which is often overlooked by brands is the creation of an asset list or dream package. By creating an essential asset list, brands can identify exactly what they require to achieve key objectives and generate a strong ROI. Too often we see brands being one dimensional when it comes to aligning with events and failing to make full use of the opportunity and their budget. A classic case being the purchasing of activation space without making use of the wider PR, marketing and social benefits that would help them cut through at a much higher level with their intended audience (sometimes these extra assets can be bargained within the original price!)

Negotiation:

Many agencies, when given a brief and a budget by a brand will look to spend the whole wad of cash, even if the package offered isn’t worth its price in the current market. With extensive knowledge of sponsorship valuation and sales: Slingshot can negotiate on the brands behalf to get the assets they require at the best possible value. Saving valuable sponsorship monies which can be used to leverage the partnership through activation instead.

Efficiency:

Our extensive network within the industry provides the perfect platform to take a brands’ vision for their sponsorship strategy to market. Building a network takes time and surprisingly, approaching a rights holder for sponsorship enquiries can actually be a lengthy process. However, by utilising an agency who already has an established name in the sponsorship field your brand can save exponential amounts of time, helping you to understand and evaluate the available opportunities more promptly.

Unique Events:

 Lastly, Slingshot is renowned for being at the forefront of the industry as one of the most innovative sponsorship agencies. Our position within the sponsorship industry means that we regularly work with niche, innovative and exciting events. Rather than pitch you the same old generic properties, we have access to platforms with specific demographics and highly engaged audiences which stand out from the crowd and can deliver a far better ROI at generally a far better price too. Some of our current clients include Extreme Tech Challenge, a start-up competition held on Necker Island with a B2B focus and a HNWI audience and London New Year’s Day Parade a mass consumer event with 650,000 attendees. Thus, we may already be working directly with a rights-holder which would deliver the cut-through needed for your next product release, re-brand or campaign push!

If you are looking for advice on any aspect of the sponsorship industry, we would be more than happy to offer our expertise, please email info@slingshotsponsorship.com or call 0207 145 0150 to get started.


How to Master the Art of Brand Activation in Sponsorship 26th June, 2018

Creative brand activation is crucial to captivate an audience and create long-lasting, memorable experiences. Here, we reveal the future direction of brand activation in sponsorship and provide a case study of a perfect execution of this by Vitaminwater at the WayHome Music & Arts Festival.

Sponsorship has rapidly moved away from being just about planting a logo somewhere visible for crowds to walk past and occasionally acknowledge. The now and future lies very much in brand activation and consumer engagement.

Executing this new method of brand activation effectively benefits both sponsors and rights-holders. By tapping into audiences’ personal journeys, you ensure that an emotional connection can be created, with memorable experiences – in turn creating a strong loyalty to the brand.

This rise in creativity and innovative ideas provides a platform for brand associations with popular public passions, such as music festivals and sport events. Areas such as these capture fans in a positive environment, producing golden opportunities for sponsors to develop deep personal connections with audiences.

Simple as the theory may sound, there is a definite art to cultivating creative ideas from inception right through to effective delivery. And it’s something, for example, Vitaminwater achieved in style at the WayHome Music and Arts Festival.

Case Study: Vitaminwater and WayHome Music and Arts Festival

Vitaminwater’s Hydration Station at the WayHome Music and Arts Festival is a fantastic example of how brand activation in sponsorship can be achieved extremely effectively.

Amid the sweltering Canadian summer heat, Vitaminwater’s idea of creating a “human car wash” proved enormously popular. Festival goers immersed themselves in cool mists at their branded area and – coupled with bottled drink handouts – instantly felt refreshed and rehydrated. These feelings link directly to the core values of Vitaminwater’s brand.

Furthermore, guests had the opportunity to have their photograph taken at the Hydration Station with their festival wristband. These pictures were sent directly to their email address for ease of sharing on social media and, with little extra effort, Vitaminwater and WayHome were soon being promoted across guests’ newsfeeds with native, shareable content.

Unsurprisingly, Vitaminwater’s Hydration Station proved to be a hugely popular addition to the festival. It was unique, playful, served a valuable purpose and ensured guests genuinely engaged with the product, adding a new dimension to their experience at the event.

Key takeaways

Creating ways in which audiences can be actively involved with a product experience will generate a strong, long-term emotional connection to the brand.

Consider it objectively: fresh, innovative ideas drive the commercial world – and it’s no different with brand activation in sponsorship. Doing this creatively entices consumers in to discover more and you will be able to connect with them on a deeper, personal level.


The Engagement – Virtual Reality and Sponsorship 1st December, 2016

Virtual reality has now become a reality in the way we consume and play sports. It has come a long way since Nintendo’s foray into it, albeit briefly, during the 90’s with the release of their Virtual Boy console. Despite the name, there is one thing that Virtual Boy was not, and that’s virtual reality. The system was conceived during a period of fascination with VR and although being a failure, it could be said that Nintendo were the pioneers of VR… credit where credit is due.

The ATP Tour Finals staged at The O2 in London 2 weeks ago is the sport’s biggest indication yet that they are taking necessary steps to prepare themselves for the future, with tennis fans given an introduction to the future of sports spectating. Virtual reality pods stood alongside a multifaceted broadcast operation and taken note of the mass of cameras including, the Spidercam and ultra-slow motion cameras capable of capturing the flex and movement of each muscle. Inside the pods, fans were able to use the newly-launched PlayStation VR and its tracking camera and handheld controller to give fans a deeper look inside tennis and reinventing the sport spectating experience.

Sponsors jump on this technology as they can provide fans with never before seen experiences, such as becoming their favourite athlete with POV or taking them into the middle of the action from the comfort of their own home While it is early days, we expect to see sponsored messaging tailored specifically to the individual wearing the headset, allowing for much more targeted marketing that current networks cannot achieve broadcasting to the masses.

The use of VR has seen brands open up a whole new channel of engagement. In 2014 Jaguar partnered with IBM to develop a VR experience allowing consumers to choose the model, make, colour and features of their favourite Jaguar. Consumers were even able to hope inside the car to check out interior features with a 360-degree view, and to make real-time changes all through the use of a headset. Jaguar have had such success with the use of VR, that they built on their technology with Andy Murray as part of the #FeelWimbledon Campaign, providing a Centre Court experience to feel the atmosphere while hitting the winning shot as Andy Murray.

The biggest asset VR has is its story telling power, taking users on a journey to breathe life into the brand is one of the main components of a content marketing approach and encourages the target market to develop a personal connection with a brand. The opportunities are endless for platforms to provide an immersive experience for users to gain a life-like experience, Moto GP could use this approach providing fans the thrill of riding a race spec bike in excess of 300 Kilometres per hour around Silverstone. It is this type of experience that engages someone on a deeper level, something that product distribution or branding simply can’t tap into.

While it is impossible to predict the future and whether VR will play a vital role in our daily lives, one thing can be said for sure, brands will continue to deliver unique and innovative experiences to engage with consumers and connect with them in ways never seen before.


The Pitfall of Long Term Sponsorship Deals 27th July, 2016

English football team Chelsea and global sportswear brand Adidas outline the potential challenges that long termed partnerships can create. In early May this year, a mutual agreement was made to end the sponsorship deal that short-fell Adidas’ potential and failed to reflect the value of Chelsea FC.

The 10-year sponsorship deal ended after only four year on the basis that the partnership was not benefiting either party.  Chelsea felt the £300million deal did not reflect their success nor their value, whilst Adidas felt the deal was not in line with their new business strategy of maintaining a lesser number of sponsorships at an increased sponsorship sum for their sponsees.  Having recently made a £750million sponsorship deal with rival team Manchester United, Adidas left Chelsea FC feeling undervalued and believing they could achieve greater sponsorship than what had been offered to them 4 years ago. On the other end, with Chelsea’s shocking performance this past season, there was no incentive for Adidas to increase the amount of the sponsorship deal in a way that offered enough benefit and still aligned with their new strategy.

Whilst the partnership proved to be mutually beneficial for the initial years, in recent times with both parties growing and evolving it only proved to be a hindrance to their futures. With the sponsorship industry constantly growing and as a result its costs ballooning, Adidas prioritising their new strategy of a more focused portfolio.  Additionally, Chelsea’s acknowledgement that their partnership did not reflect their market worth today was vital in their growth with a new partner.

The sponsorship industry evolves at a rapid rate, shifting away from logo badging to strategic business deliverables. Simultaneously the sporting world, and more specifically the football industry remains somewhat volatile – with politics and the economy affecting players and transfers amplified by team performance (Leicester City).

Although signing a 10-year contract may seem beneficial, the pace of the industry and media landscape evolution creates more risk.  Long termed contracts in such changing conditions mean that partnerships can get to a stagnant point where neither party can maximise the initial benefits sought. The idea that an extensive contract will provide security is predominantly only viable when looking at the monetary side of sponsorship, but sponsorship is more than money.  This façade of security tends to be a contradictory ‘benefit’ – potentially being more risky than short term contracts that evolve as both partners evolve.


Identifying Potential in the Barclays Premier League’s Transfer Window 26th November, 2014

It’s not even December and the rumour mill is in full flow regarding the opening of the Barclays Premier League’s January transfer window. Already dominating football-related conversations in pubs and bars across the UK, can we take a leaf out of our American counterparts’ book and capitalise on this excitement?  

Football is right at the epicentre of British culture. With revenue reaching €3 billion last year in the UK alone, it comes as no surprise that brands have attached themselves to every perceived point of value, from stadium naming rights to TV ad spots.

The Potential

With speculation rising as to how teams are aiming to strengthen through the mid-season transfer window, it seems an apt time to discuss the potential of the transfer market as a whole. As of the launch of Sky Sports News HQ in August this year, ‘Deadline Day’ is gaining traction and fast becoming a staple in the diets of football fans across the UK. As we saw last autumn, the transfer window offers a unique opportunity for brands to both reach and engage with their core audience in the off-season.

Furthermore, transfer deadline day is impossible to miss on social media. This year, Radamel Falcao’s switch from Monaco to Manchester United sparked a surge on Twitter with his name being mentioned over 1.6 million times before the window had even closed. Above all else, this clearly demonstrates the active participation of viewers.

The market is growing too, in just the last decade, due to the influx of wealthy overseas owners, English clubs have increased their spending in the transfer market from a combined £265million to £835million.

One of the challenges that we face is that in its current form, transfer deadline day is actually pretty dull; moments of excitement are surrounded with hours of ‘dead time’ and speculation. Whilst advertisers are aware of the increased interest on news outlets on deadline day, as yet none have been bold enough to do more than pay a premium for advertising space.

It’s Not Impossible

The NFL – America’s most watched sport on TV, and one that is making real progress in terms of successfully opening a London-based franchise, has proved that the transfer market is an area that holds great potential for the sponsorship industry. Their incredibly strong commercial strategy has contributed to their increasing success in the UK, having sold out Wembley for the Dallas Cowboys vs Jacksonville Jaguars game earlier this month.

Bud Light signed on as the official beer of the NFL in 2011 and has since adopted the NFL draft (a once-a-year event in which NFL teams select eligible college football players to add to their rosters) as a core aspect of their strategy. According to Mike Sundet, senior director at Bud Light, “the NFL Draft has become an unofficial holiday for fans – something they begin looking forward to almost as soon as the previous season ends.”

This year Bud Light is offering 32 fans, one representing each NFL team, an opportunity to be directly involved in the second-round draft, aired live on primetime US TV. Bud Light not only provides a channel for fans to directly connect and interact with their favourite teams, but also engages with fans increasing both brand advocacy and awareness.

The Opportunity

If a brand were to take total ownership of transfer deadline day with a clear strategy on how best to exploit the vast interest from the fan-base, there are huge potential gains for both the brand and the English Football Leagues.

If cooperation from the Premier League Football Association and Sky Sports could be secured, the space would be a blank canvas for a brand to create something both memorable and incredibly effective. The only part of the equation missing is the brand that’s willing to think outside of the perceived limits of the existing area.


Sir Bradley Reminds Us It’s About More Than A Logo 24th July, 2014

Sir Bradley Wiggins’ comments on the eve of the Commonwealth Games that the Emirates branding on the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow might have left Sir Chris feeling a little “done over”.

For those of us in the sponsorship industry though, Wiggins’ comments provided another reminder of just how important it is for sponsors to clearly demonstrate the value they’re adding to an event.

For Emirates, who have activated their sponsorship pre-event by spreading the excitement of the Games across the Commonwealth through the Queen’s Baton Relay and unveiled a new Emirates Lounge at Glasgow Airport just in time for the Games, it will be interesting to see how the airline actively engages audiences now the Games are underway.
The recent World Cup in Brazil pushed digital and brand engagement to the fore and further supported the premise that effective sponsorship is more than just a collection of logos and branding at an event. Sponsorship should help to actively engage with consumers allowing the audience to interact and create an emotional tie with a brand.

We’ve seen major brands and sponsors bend-over-backwards at recent global sports events to use meaningful and relevant activation to bring their brands as close to the action as possible. Here’s our selection of podium placers from recent global events where engagement was king.

P&G – ‘Thank You Mom’ (London 2012 & Sochi 2014)

To much critical acclaim P&G executed a clearly defined and emotionally charged message through an integrated“Thank You Mom” campaign, encompassing a host of digital channels, athlete ambassadors including the likes ofVictoria Pendleton and Jessica Ennis-Hill and the release of an app allowing over 50,000 of us to say thank you to mum too!

Beats – London 2012

Beats was just one of a number of  brands who managed, temporarily at least, to evade the brand police and creatively engage with audiences at London 2012 without sponsoring the event. Not only supplying (what seemed like) every athlete with a custom pair of Beats, they also created a pop-up space in Shoreditch House allowing 4,000 people including Olympic athletes from all over the globe to interact with the brand, watch the Games and make use of a photo booth which was used to generate content for poster shots later in the campaign.

Budweiser – ‘Rise as One’ (FIFA World Cup 2014)

Budweiser made sure to engage with its audience whether they were in Brazil or not.  Fans from all over the globe were encouraged to get involved via Twitter with users urged to tap #ManoftheMatch tweets from @FIFAcom which generated Budweiser branded player photos and a  tweet and vote mechanic. Many fans lucky enough to make the trip to Brazil were greeted with rewards in the form of the Budweiser Hotel which hosted parties and events throughout the tournament and acted as a hub for over 3000 satellite Budweiser parties all around the world.

With 1.5 billion people tuning in to the Commonwealth Games let’s hope brands involved make it equally engaging!


Game, Set and Match: My Top 3 Wimbledon Sponsorship Campaigns 20th June, 2013

In a few weeks another chapter of the greatest tennis tournament in the world will be written. Wimbledon is not just one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world, but also a very unique platform for sponsors, or as The All England Club calls them – suppliers.

So what is it that makes Wimbledon so different? Watching the matches on television you will realise that unlike the Premier League for example, no sponsor hoardings and perimeter advertising within the grounds of Wimbledon itself are currently allowed. You may spot Rolex next to the clock, Slazenger on the tennis balls or Ralph Lauren outfits worn by the ball kids, but these logos are only allowed on the items and services that the brands supply Wimbledon with. Despite those restrictions, Wimbledon is still exceptionally attractive to brands. Sponsors can use the association with this traditional event across their own marketing mixes.  In light of this, I’ve put together my top 3 Wimbledon sponsorship campaigns:

1. IBM at London Heathrow (2010 and 2011)

In order to raise awareness of IBM’s sponsorship of the Wimbledon Championships, IBM ran an innovative digital advertising campaign at one of the busiest international airports. Over 70 airport screens at London Heathrow were been programmed to select match updates and players most relevant to departing flights. “On average, passengers look at digital screens 99 times during their airport stay. The campaign supports IBM’s role in delivering real time player progress to Wimbledon fans at a time when they are unable to watch the match and want to keep in touch with the action”, stated JCDecaux’ Airport Marketing Director Steve Cox in an IBM press release. Thanks to the live updates IBM’s screens would have had a fair few more glances at the screens during the Wimbledon period. Check out the video summarizing this successful campaign.

2. Evian ball hunt (2012)

In 2012, Evian used its social media channels to engage with tennis fans offering them the chance to win VIP Wimbledon tickets. In their ‘Evian ball hunt’ campaign, which was supported by tennis star Maria Sharapova an Evian ball boy regularly revealed clues on the water suppliers Twitter and Facebook accounts. Followers chased him throughout London and once caught, the ball boy gave them a numbered Evian tennis ball. Each day one lucky number was chosen giving tennis fans the chance to be part of the action.

3.  Lavazza’s ‘We are the queue’ (2011)

Due to the aforementioned restrictions within the Wimbledon grounds, the famous Wimbledon queue, where people wait for up to 8 hours to get tickets, has become an increasingly important area for sponsors to showcase themselves. In 2011 Lavazza got it right. Through their ‘We are the queue’ campaign, the official coffee brand was not only serving coffee to patient tennis fans, but also made their queuing time worthwhile. Lavazza converted the area into a huge playground and relaxation bubble, where queuers could interact with games. A dedicated website and Facebook page as well as a smart phone application gave Lavazza the opportunity to engage with this key audience further. Check out the video footage of this amazing campaign here.


Lessons the Sponsorship Industry should Learn from Kickstarter 15th May, 2013

Continuing from Jackie’s most recent blog, which expressed the inherent need for an understanding of sponsorship in every industry, I wanted to lead this blog in a similar vein. The past couple of weeks have seen the re-emergence of the platform Kickstarter into the blogosphere – a crowd-funding site that offers entrepreneurs, film-makers, artists, techies etc. a platform through which they can raise funding for specific ideas and projects.

Until a few weeks ago, many were unaware of Kickstarter until Mr Zach Braff (of Garden State and Scrubs fame) launched a campaign on the website to generate funding for his new movie Wish I Was Herea kind-of-but-not-really sequel to Garden State – find his campaign video here.  Through the website, and by the click of a button, anyone is able to become an investor in Braff’s film.  What is more, those willing to sponsor are offered some pretty hefty benefits – ranging from larger investors being treated to a character in the film being named after them, to escorting Braff as one of his personal guests to the premier and after party – not bad.

Within only 3 days, Braff’s target of $2 million was smashed.  Of course this was due, to a large extent, to Braff’s extensive networks (1,099,497 Twitter followers) and celebrity pals who helped him reach this goal.  Yet despite the project’s success, Braff’s use of the site has come under immense scrutiny, with many citing this project to be one of (soon to be many) Hollywood overhauls on the website – which they believe will overshadow projects that really need to use the site to create contacts and source funding.

Despite the Hollywood backlash, the success Braff has gained through Kickstarter and the buzz his project has generated; has led me to identify 3 things the sponsorship industry should take away from this case study:

1) It is imperative to tap into passions – Sponsorship should always be about tapping into people’s interests and passions.  As a marketing tool; the brands and rights-holders that have the most success, are the ones that really connect with what the consumer wants and understand what it is they need.  Braff was able to build on the cult success of Garden State and use the affinity his fans have towards the film to help fund a new project, giving fans the opportunity to join him in the films journey.

2) Not just about the idea – Despite the success of Braff’s Kickstarter campaign, an overwhelming majority of Kickstarter projects lead to failure.  As Michael C. Neel’s research shows, the campaigns that are the most successful are the ones that are able to promote and leverage networks, exercise connections and generate as much buzz as possible around the project.  In essence, this is similar to sponsorship – those that are deemed ‘successful’ are the ones that are able to utilise every aspect of the relationship at hand – not just rely on the basic sponsorship or ‘idea’ itself.

3) Corporates should learn from crowd-funding – Some of the best ideas and projects gain fruition from smaller, grass-root platforms like Kickstarter; and it is important that these projects are able to gain funding.  Sponsorship should be accessible and understood by all; not just large corporates – the funding of such projects will in turn help generate an already stagnant economy.  Websites such as Kickstarter also offer first-hand insight into projects that are succeeding and those that are failing – offering corporates in real time, trends within specific industries.

Despite the criticism surrounding Braff’s use of Kickstarter, the re-emergence of the platform has emphasised once again, the need and capacity for sponsorship in all industries whether big or small.

My Top 3 Digital Sponsorship Campaigns 25th March, 2013

Sponsorship campaigns have always relied on brand synergy and mutually benefitting concepts but now it is imperative to incorporate the partnerships through a digital platform. Here are three of my favourite digital sponsorship campaigns…

Nike and Apple (Nike+)

The Nike+ sponsorship campaign stands out for simply the sheer size of the two brands involved, as corporate logos go, few are as identifiable. For Nike and Apple there was no case of ‘clash of the titans’- merged products (shoes, sensors, kit) allowed joggers to be notified of progress by iPod prompts as well as tracking distance and duration. The data could be uploaded to a Mac or PC, and then on to Nikeplus.com, giving people the chance to record progress, set targets and share results.

For Apple, the sponsorship allowed them to target consumers from a different angle and created a much more fulfilling exercise experience thanks to their technology. For Nike, the sponsorship helped them shift their brand image away from bad press concerning labour ethics and high-profile court cases previous to 2006. Aligning to Apple, which had a very clean reputation at the time, aimed to help add credibility to some of the promotional tags that Nike were trying to shed.

Vice and Intel

Vice is brash, incisive and radical, which is exactly why Intel bit, their aim was to diversify their brand image. John Galvin, director of Intel’s partner marketing group, admitted that “if we give music fans the opportunity to have this amazing experience, maybe they will think about Intel differently, becausewithout our technology, this wouldn’t be possible.”

Having Intel as a sponsor not only associates Vice to a global brand but it also acts as a service for their multiple digital ventures. Intel has now partnered with Vice on two of their most impressive subsidiaries, The Creators Project and Noisey. The collaboration has a real sense of synergy – Vice finds fresh talent and creative pioneers in order to distribute the content and footage while Intel supply cutting edge ways for fans to engage digitally.

Kopparberg and Spotify

Independent cider brewer, Kopparberg partnered with Spotify and Last.fm in 2012 to create the Kopparberg Festival Player, which helps UK festival-goers plan their schedule of bands they want to watch over the summer based on Spotify playlists, the app featured playlist sharing and chances to win tickets to the most sought-after festivals in the UK.

The appeal of this campaign is Kopparberg’s chance to connect with fans through music, rather than direct, brash marketing which festival-goers tend to disapprove of. Furthermore, the partnerships drives awareness of the brand and drinking Kopparberg before they even get to event, which cuts out the competition and resonates with the customer. With their involvement at more than 15 UK festivals and major events in 2012, this became a key reason for their sales success.