Can too many Sponsors Dilute a Rights-Holder’s Brand? 22nd August, 2013

In sports leagues around the world, success on the field is ultimately driven by commercial revenue. As a consequence, their response has been to bring in sponsors to help facilitate the gap in funding.  But this growing emphasis upon sponsorship has left many people asking – are too many sponsors diluting the right-holder’s brand?

Sponsors make the brand more vibrant

When discussing the ever increasing number of sponsors in sport, it would be hard not to mention Manchester United, having just signed another spread of partners across the globe. The club has recently signed the Indonesian tyre producer bringing the club’s sponsorship total to 33. It begs to ask the question – are these sponsors devaluing the Manchester United brand?

Jonathan Rigby CM for MU, has rejected that the club has anywhere near reached its limit. He states that by implementing a local model amongst the 77 countries they have sponsors in currently, they are appealing to each fan individually, making the brand more vibrant and producing a follow on effect which will ultimately benefit all sponsors involved.

This certainly seems to be the case when you look at their operating profit, which has increased this year by 13.7%. The club has also just signed a new shirt deal worth nearly £500 million over 8 years, increasing their commercial sponsorship revenue to £118 million annually.

More value lies in fewer partners

In comparison, Juventus believe going the other way is more rewarding. The club believes that having valuable relationships with fewer brands will bring you more credibility amongst your following, and as a result will lead to greater financial weight behind the deals. This is the case for Jeep who is currently their headline sponsor, and one of 15 corporate partners.  In a public image driven market, and where it is only public interest which governs your reach; keeping it close to home can be seen as vital.

It’s the end product that matters

Brands enter into sponsorship for a multitude of reasons, but generally speaking, brands sponsor rights-holders for the audience, exposure, association and to fulfill their own brand objectives.  For rights-holders, one of the main things they rely upon, aside from funding, is the fans/ their audience.  As a platform, sponsorship allows both the rights-holder and brand to connect to their audience in a wholly tailored way.

The focus, therefore, shouldn’t be based on the amount of sponsors, but upon the end product – what the partnership has created for the fan, the overall experience and the club. MU’s model works because it has such a wide fan base and global sponsorship platform that allows them to associate with their following in all corners of the world. Juventus, on the other hand, has had success through its emphasis upon a few partners that have a strong affiliation to the club, keeping it close to home allows them to stay true to both the sponsor and the rights-holder’s objectives.

The Outcome

So long as the sponsorship is delivered and is aligned to the brand’s objectives and these objectives align with those of the rights-holder, the end product should ultimately benefit both club and sponsor.  Dilution of the brand will come when parties lose sight of their overall objective.

How to Build Working Relationships 24th April, 2012

Many companies feel that sales people are the face of the company and therefore are the only ones who need to foster relationships.  This could not be farther from the truth.  As the divide between marketing and sales grows thinner it becomes increasingly important for everyone to appreciate developing and growing working relationships – this includes the creative executive designing ads in an agency to the marketing manager in a brand.  Collaboration is not just necessary in smaller communities – it is everywhere.  It exists within your office as well as outside of your office – between departments and between agencies.

At Slingshot Sponsorship, building relationships is not just a service we provide; it’s the vital component to our business’s survival.  Fortunately, we are blessed with amazing, talented clients and sponsors so our job is not too difficult; however, there are some key tips we use to help us build lasting working relationships:

1.  TRANSPARENCY – Far too often there are too many secret squirrel discussions going on – between the agency, client, brand, creative team, etc.  But 99% of the time everyone is trying to achieve the same objective and so being transparent highlights where there are gaps in misunderstanding.  Sorting these gaps out early helps speed up the project.  Transparancy can also highlight where people have been given different information, which can also be the reason for delays.

In our sponsorship agency, we like to be transparent with everything – from the prices of our sponsorship proposals to the rates we charge our clients.  There is a value to everything we do and everything we sell; therefore the need to hide pricing is unnecessary.  For example, you wouldn’t pay £7 for a bag of Haribo because it’s not worth that (unless you were in a ski resort in the Alps).

2.  COMMUNICATE – This goes without saying, but communication is an obvious way to build relationships.  Furthermore, by communicating with your clients/sponsors/agencies you can find out changes within the business faster than by reading about it on the latest edition of Marketing Week.  This not only helps you build your relationship, but helps you deliver the best value.

For our rights owner clients, we try and help forge this communication with face-to-face interaction mid-way through a sponsorship programme.  For example, we sign sponsors to the What Car? Awards in May leaving a large gap of time between signing contracts and the awards ceremony (January).  In order to keep the communication maintained we have introduced a Sponsors Lunch in September to update sponsors and more importantly to build relationships – between both the rights owner and sponsor, but also between sponsors.

3.  CARE – True relationships are not built on the used-car salesman technique of faking it.  If you are like most people, you will be working in the same industry for the majority of your career – as will your peers.  People like to work with people they like and people tend to like people who are helpful, considerate, and knowledgeable.  If you don’t care about your job, you certainly won’t care about someone else’s – which is never a good starting point to fostering a relationship.

As a sponsorship agency, most of what we do is build relationships – however, the importance for building lasting relationships applies for every industry and every job you are in.