My Placement Year In The Sponsorship Industry 27th June, 2019

University is a platform for a higher earnings potential, but it certainly doesn’t guarantee it. With few real-world skills, more and more graduates are finding that 6 months to a year post graduation: they have yet to find a job in their preferred industry.

 Naturally, this is an alarming reality for anyone attending university, but there is something that can be done to increase chances of employment: placement years. Placement years are a ‘sandwich’ option, allowing UK students to defer their final year in order to get a taste of the real world and in my case, a taste of sponsorship.  

 There are nearly 2 million undergraduates in the UK every year, I need to do something to stand out.

Away from the often-rigid restraints of university assignments – “this is the task, and this is how you must do it” – the real world is sometimes a stark contrast. There are a thousand ways to complete a job and often, there’s little instruction on how to do it, one must use their initiative. You know it. I know it. Employers know it. Hence, those with a strong employment history appeal more than a green undergraduate.

 I deferred my final year. I applied for over 70 internships. I landed at Slingshot Sponsorship. A small yet renowned agency who weren’t even looking for a new team member but were willing to take me under their wing.

Working a year in an agency has been so highly advantageous to my career development, its hard to put into words (However I will attempt to for the remainder of this blog). I’ve learnt a lot: not just about the sponsorship industry, but about the workings of an agency, how to be malleable and more importantly how to balance multiple tasks, leads and clients at once: something university definitely doesn’t prepare you for.

 One Key Thing I’ve learnt:

Learn. I have always been a keen learner. But having little experience within the industry and little experience in a 9-5: you really have to open your eyes and open your ears. Being able to be taught is an invaluable skill and it is essential to progressing in any career. Sponsorship is an ever-evolving landscape and coupled with working in a small agency – where job roles aren’t necessarily heavily defined – it’s crucial to adapt your skillset and learn new ones as quick as you can: if not, you’ll be left behind.

The top 3 favourite aspects of working in sponsorship:

  1. Insight. Working in a small agency has given me the opportunity to grow my knowledge beyond what I could have imagined 12 months ago. My role at Slingshot as been sales and yet: I’ve valued sponsorship properties, created proposals, liaised with clients, pitched global brands, managed social media accounts and taken care of the blogging. Additionally, our clients aren’t just sport. I’ve worked across all industries from B2B conferences to government initiatives to entertainment and live music, making me think on my toes and adapt my skillset on a daily basis. On top of this: my directors have even made me coffee. I doubt there’s many large agencies that give the same opportunities; I sure as hell wasn’t going to waste a year doing admin.

 

  1. Creating relationships.As mentioned, my main role at Slingshot has been sales, and I’ve enjoyed (nearly) every minute of it. Working in sales for 12 months has allowed me to build my contact base exponentially and create some great relationships along the way. Relationships are the key to the sponsorship industry (insert classic tale of the Manchester United/Chevrolet deal here) so to have been given the platform and guidance to make so many connections will prove to be extremely beneficial down the line.

 

  1. Working as a team. Coming from a team- sport background, working in a small team that co-operates and thrives has been one of the most enjoyable factors of my experience. Especially as there’s been no hierarchical malarkey: Slingshot is one of the most open and transparent workplaces I’ve experienced. I’ve really jelled with the team here and to say I’m going to miss it would be a BIG understatement.

 

Presenting to sponsorship students at Leeds Beckett University

 

Placement year has exceeded my expectations. 

I truly never expected to have learnt so much in a relatively short space of time, and on top of that: didn’t expect to enjoy it half as much as I have. But most importantly I’ve given myself a head-start against my fellow graduates, the skills I’ve learnt will put me in best stead for sealing that all-important grad job and will certainly differentiate me for other candidates.

I cannot recommend a placement year enough. 

Whilst university teaches you time management and a degree demonstrates your knowledge in a specialist field: neither provide you with a well-rounded skillset or real-world industry knowledge. Slingshot and my placement year have delivered on both accounts and given me a deep pool of industry contacts which are crucial for success in the sponsorship industry.

Now, just got to go and write that dissertation.


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 [email protected] or call 0207 145 0150 to get started.


Top 3 Tips When Prospecting For Sponsorship Sales 19th September, 2018

 

All too often, people in the sponsorship industry dive into sales headstrong, without proper justification behind each of their approaches. This leads to poor performance and a lack of interest from prospects and can be avoided simply by taking the time to identify fit.

 

The role of a sponsorship sales professional is to prove value through sponsorship to the brand they are approaching. It is crucial that before starting to sell sponsorship, key research is undertaken and brands are targeted which align closely to the specific assets, and have the best fit with the specific demographic.

 

Below are Slingshot’s top three tips when prospecting brands.

 

  • Visualise the audience experience: The first step before doing anything is to brainstorm the experience an attendee will get and to then understand how a brand would want to engage. This paints a picture as to which industries and brands would benefit the most from sponsoring and which might improve the experience for attendees.

 

  • Zeroing in on targets: Armed with an idea of what industries to consider, build a prospect list based on the synergies between specific brands and the demographic. The main point of sponsorship is to enable a brand to access an audience they couldn’t target otherwise, or to showcase that by engaging in sponsorship they can do this in a cost-effective way. It is important to consider what new products and services a brand is offering and how these can be integrated.

 

  • What’s the hook. With a solid prospect list in hand, outlining a tailored approach for each prospective client based on their current marketing objectives is essential before picking up the phone. A good tip is to think of 3 key points as to why the brand in question should become a sponsor. Pair the brands objectives with specific assets and use these assets to showcase how they solve a brands problem. For example; a consumer electronic brand is trying to increase it’s B2B capabilities and engage more with senior-decision makers in large organisations. The rights holder has a database (GDPR compliant of course…) of decision makers that would be the perfect potential clients of this brand, therefore the sales pitch becomes about utilising this database to engage and create new leads for the brand – something they couldn’t do without sponsorship.

 

It is essential to perform this research before diving in to sponsorship sales. It will ensure that the rights holder will understand what the sell is to each brand, and can therefor tailor their approach, solving a problem and not just asking for money.

 

At Slingshot we pride ourselves on the fact that each call is tailored for that brand in order to add real value to their marketing spend, and satisfy their marketing objectives. It is this highly tailored and specific sales strategy which has led to our impressive roster of clients, and testimonials which praise our “attention to detail”.

 

If you are looking for advice on sponsorship sales or any aspect of the sponsorship industry, we would be more than happy to offer our expertise, please email [email protected] with any enquiries.


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 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.


What Car? Win Excellence Award with the help of Slingshot Sponsorship 16th February, 2016

What Car? was awarded the Rights Holder Achievement Award at the prestigious European Sponsorship Association Awards held at Café de Paris in London.
Overcoming strong competition from around Europe, What Car? impressed the judging panel after turning around dwindling interest from sponsors in their flagship event and bringing numerous new sponsors on board.
In 2011 the What Car Awards only had one sponsor which signalled the lowest event revenue in its 36-year history, at this point they enlisted the help of Slingshot Sponsorship to overhaul the commercial strategy and attract new sponsors.
Four years later, the first sponsor Slingshot brought on board in 2012 are still sponsors today, despite signing one-year contracts each year. What Car Awards and Slingshot Sponsorship have achieved this by creating the right partnership for each sponsor, delivering results year in year out – ensuring the delivery of truly sustainable sponsorship.
Jackie Fast, MD of Slingshot Sponsorship commented; “We are really proud of our work with the What Car? Awards who were actually Slingshot’s first ever client, the Awards are a fabulous event which now has the sponsor partners it deserves.
Slingshot are unique in the fact that we exclusively specialise in sponsorship sales – particularly how to creatively build a commercial proposition. This award win (one of many for this client) supports how our innovative approach significantly impacts our client’s bottom line for the long term without compromising the culture and personality of the event. We are thrilled!”

To find out more about the What Car? Awards please click here.
To read the Slingshot case study on What Car please click here.
To find out more about Slingshot Sponsorship please click here.
To see more news from the ESA Excellence Awards 2015 please click here.


Player Power – Athlete Success Impacts on Brand Fortunes 4th September, 2015

Player power is well documented across sports business with demands on endorsement deals, publicity requests and the ability to influence the many across the globe. However rarely has a player’s performance vindicated the price of company stock.

As Serena Williams appears in New York this week with sights set firmly on the US Open & ‘Serena Slam’ (winning all four majors in the calendar year) there will likely be comparisons drawn with Jordan Spieth’s attempts to achieve the same feat in the world of golf this year.

Following an examination of Spieth’s miss on the final hole at the British Open, ultimately ending hopes of the calendar Grand Slam the finance department of Serena’s sponsor Nike might be a little more focused on her success this week than the previous wins.

Recently Under Armour became the principal sponsor of the young athlete, signing a multi-million 10 year deal (read more on a previous Slingshot blog here). Following this Spieth promptly returned faith securing the Masters and US Open titles with Under Armour equipment pride of place.

Next the British Open loomed with hype surrounding Spieth’s opportunity to complete the impossible and collect a third major of the year. Jordan Spieth was in contention until the final hole where a birdie was required to keep the challenge alive for a play-off.

This is where the parallels with Serena might interest Nike’s finance department and shareholders.

As following the missed putt by their star ambassador, Under Armour’s share price dropped falling from a price of $89.46 before the putt to $88.79 minutes afterwards – decreasing the company’s value by almost £90 million.

Whilst the exact nature of this depreciation is unknown, this occurred within the 6 minutes between the putt and missing of the play-off. Sport marketing professionals have cast views on the occurrence with Nigel Currie believing the “share price to have grown due to the accumulation of previous successes and the expectation on further success”, with the drop merely showing a return to a normal level.

Whatever the explanation, Nike shareholders will be wishing Serena success at Flushing Meadows just a few percent more.

 


High Culture; a Thriving Market 10th October, 2013

Sponsorship of the arts and ‘high culture’ is a topic that has been vehemently discussed within the industry for years.  Indeed, the industry is one that has been criticised for its choice of partners; see BP’s sponsorship of the National Portrait Gallery and Shell’s long standing partnership with the Southbank Centre.  Yet, controversy aside, high culture such as the opera, ballet and classical music has a deep rooted association with large corporates.

It seems, however, that the industry is changing.  Over the past few years there has been an influx of new musicians that have begun to open younger generation’s eyes to high culture arts.  Take for example, musicians such as Olafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm, both of whom are classically trained, yet they appear time and time again on some of the UK’s most favoured music blogs.  Furthermore, in 2011 BBC Radio 1’s DJ Greg James played Ludovico Einaudi’s I Giorni as part of the ‘study break’ feature. The reaction was hugely unexpected with the classical piece reaching number 28 in the Top 40 Chart.

There are also a number of more intimate events and concerts popping up across the country. Ruthless Jabiru is a successful classical orchestra composed and directed by Kelly Lovelady and is entirely made up of Australian musicians living in Britain. Ruthless Jabiru runs a combination of intimate and large events across the country, playing in venues such as Australia House, London and LSO St. Luke’s, and has been recognised for its ambassadorial work by Buckingham Palace.

In the ever more saturated festival market, some brands are beginning to look elsewhere for inspiration.  Events such as those hosted by Ruthless Jabiru (see their up and coming event at Union Chapel Monday 14th October) are creating unique experiences for brands to interact with younger audiences.

Kelly Lovelady said, “Classical events like those of my own orchestra, Ruthless Jabiru, are a fantastic platform for brands to interact with consumers on a more intimate level. The passions associated with classical music in the distinctive and beautiful venues in which we perform can really create a unique experience for both brand and attendee.”

This shift in attitude is being helped by a development being seen in the events themselves, with classical artists adopting modern pieces and trading in traditional instruments for electric ones.  In light of this shift within the market, Slingshot has compiled two examples of consumer brands partnering with high culture events.

Peugeot and Bond

As always there are of course brands ahead of the curve. The Peugeot and Bond (Bond, not James Bond) partnership is one of the first examples of a big name brand sponsoring classical music band. This was designed to differentiate themselves from other brands and connect with a young, mass market. As part of the sponsorship Bond, a female electric instrument quartet, created a mini album specifically for the Peugeot 308 CC adverts, this was then given away as a free download on the Peugeot website.

Siemens and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields

A different partnership to that of Peugeot and Bond, Siemens sponsorship of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields is a prime example of a partnership based on the wide and international audience of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields as well as classical music in general. The orchestra allowed Siemens to access the typical ABC1 demographic of higher culture arts whilst also providing access to a younger audience through young musicians like Joshua Bell who are part of the St Martin in the Fields Orchestra.


“Enter At Your Own Peril” : Sponsor Association With Controversial Brand Ambassadors 23rd September, 2013

 

“The role of a brand ambassador – the brand ambassador is a marketing model that employs trusted, credible personalities to promote and give greater visibility to its brand products

It seems, historically, that sport and scandal have gone hand-in-hand. Over the past five years there have been multiple athletes in the upper echelons of their respected fields that have been subject to a public fall from grace. For the sponsor, the usual protocol will be to run for the hills, and withdraw any association with the respected star. However, there are some exceptions, and brands do, in some cases, stick by or re-invest in their asset – but under what circumstance and why?

Level Of Association

If the player is either an integral part of the sponsors make up, or headline star, then it makes the job of getting rid of them, and keeping to your marketing strategy a lot harder. Woods, of course, has been embezzled with the swoosh his entire career, this can also be said of Wayne Rooney. However Ryan Giggs has not been so fortunate, despite being held up as headline moral ambassador for his maturity, the star ended up being shunned by a number of his sponsors for a comparable offense to that of Rooney or Woods.

Bankability

The commercial revenue generated by any ambassador is integral to their credentials, and can play a significant role in the decision making process. In Woods and Rooney’s case, both EA games and Nike had complete product ranges centered on them, and commercially had too much to lose.

Sponsor’s market place

Accenture was Woods’s big loss in the aftermath of the scandal around his affair. The firm could not justify sporting a star whilst marketing themselves as a trusted Business Consultancy. Brands have ambassadors for a multitude of reasons, but they must be able to link their common values and business goals. In contrast, Alex Rodriguez, was still used by Guitar Hero in their adverts even after he admitted to taking banned substances. The business case for this was that Guitar Hero’s product was not affiliated with his sporting attributes, but his public personality.

The Offense

The line with which most brands have consistently taken when suspending contracts, has been when the ambassador’s actions directly affect the relationship they have with the respected brand’s promotional attributes. In the case of Drugs there has been a 100% termination rate in sport. However, in the case of Kate Moss and the fashion industry, the offence was taken very differently. Although she did lose substantial contracts, Moss managed to retain seven, and go on to re-build her career, something which has never been seen on such a scale in sport.

There is no doubt that trust in ambassadors has publically waned, as such, there has been a shift in how brands market their ambassadors. Recent campaigns by brands such as Nike illustrate that the focus is now upon empowering the consumer, rather than showboating the skills of an untouchable star. Even in fashion, couture designers are collaborating with high street fashion chains to bring their products to a consumer level. This shift undoubtedly showcases ambassadors but does much to bring the star or garment to the consumers level, retaining brand loyalty, which is essential in a very fickle market place.

It’s the end product that matters

As the quote above states, ambassadors uphold the values of the product they promote, and being the lucrative tool which they are, brands will do anything to protect them. However no one is bigger than the brand and on a case-by-case basis, the outcome of each offense is dictated by the relationship between the star and the value of the product they endorse.