CSR Partnerships: A Win Win 14th March, 2019

In January, Slingshot wrote a blog predicting that – amongst other things – CSR Partnerships will play a bigger part in the sponsorship industry for 2019. This was highlighted by Sky pulling their sponsorship of Team Sky in favour of increasing their efforts with Sky Ocean Rescue. It was widely speculated that Sky made this decision to target a younger demographic: millennial and gen Z purchase intention is influenced by brand’s philanthropy and purpose more than any other generation.

Beyond purchase intention sponsorship can be a tool to make real change, whether that be on an organisational level, or worldwide. Not only that, CSR partnerships provide a whole host of other benefits. Below Slingshot breaks down 3 key benefits of cause related sponsorship, and how they can be achieved.

 

Engagement:

  • Employee

CSR Initiatives provide an excellent platform for employee engagement. Whether it be cleaning beaches, building schools in underprivileged countries or caring for abandoned animals. Through sponsorship of charities, companies benefit by not only decreasing the time and resource they’d have to dedicate by creating their own initiative but also by increasing employee satisfaction through allowing employees to volunteer, fundraise and support initiatives that have meaning.

  • Client

What better way of communicating that your company has a cause than sharing it with clients? Being able to host clients, or potential clients at events like Sport Relief is a huge advantage over competitors with run-of-the-mill corporate hospitality programs, particularly as corporate transparency and CSR has been shown to encourage loyal and trusting client relationships.

 

Alignment:

Most brands have CSR, whether those initiatives be: plastic pollution, reduction in carbon emissions or commitment to equality there will be the perfect platform or charity to align with to amplify impact. Sky Ocean Rescue, their own initiative to prevent ocean-plastic pollution, teamed up with Project 0 a global marine charity for the #PassOnPlastic campaign to produce co-branded merchandise through Project 0’s ambassador network. As previously mentioned, charity partnerships can provide fantastic PR and marketing footprints for brands. In this case: Sky got access to numerous celebrity ambassadors who are usually near-impossible to reach and in return Project 0 received 25% of all proceeds from the merchandise sales, to go towards their goal of putting 30% of the world’s oceans under protection by 2030. A win-win.

 

Innovation:

Climate change and consumers are causing companies to re-think how the produce, distribute and use their goods, and sustainability has become a driver for innovation. Levi’s make jeans that use up to 96% less water in the manufacturing process and Adidas have started to make trainers from recycled plastic. Here’s the kicker: both products came from cause related partnerships driven by consumers. By forming strategic partnerships with not-for-profits, corporation can produce new products that not only save the planet but save their profit margin too. Imagine the money Levi’s are saving on their water bill!

 

Cause-related partnerships – if maximized – are a fantastic strategic tool for solving supply and manufacturing issues, saving money, raising money, and for reaping a whole host of promotional benefits along the way. They make good business sense; It’s just an added bonus that partnerships can be used in corporate communications and marketing to make consumers engage more. On a more sombre note: corporations are often the cause of environmental and social issues, such as fast fashion with child labour and carbon emissions and Oil corporations for most environmental issues. Therefore, these corporations should be investing in cause related partnerships, to help mitigate the negative effects they are having on the earth.


Charity Sponsorship: Change your mindset – change your fortunes 21st August, 2018

Charity partnerships have shown they can be extremely effective when done right; you only have to look at partnerships between LEGO and WFF, Pampers and Unicef and the I am Shaquem Griffin video, which shook the internet to see this. But for many years, there has seemed to be a reluctance to maximise charity sponsorships.

In the digital age, modern high-level sponsorships have formed a crucial component of the strategic marketing mix, but it could be argued that CSR focussed sponsorships have seemingly been behind the curve. Although in recent times there has been a noticeable shift in CSR sponsorships, Slingshot believes that more can be done so that brands and charities can harness each other for a greater mutual gain.

Charities have the potential to offer brands so much more than CSR alone. In many cases, charities can offer everything that a normal rights holder can: brand awareness, experiential opportunities, direct sales, digital marketing and access to high-profile ambassadors. On top of this, CSR partnerships offer great client hospitality opportunities, and are generally linked to internal stakeholder and employee satisfaction. However, for more charities and brands to take advantage of these benefits, attitudes to these types of partnerships need to change.

Changing the Charity Mindset

Firstly, the charities themselves need to realise their commercial potential. Historically, charities have fallen into the trap of leading with a philanthropic pitch when in-front of brands rather than showcasing the value of a sponsorship deal. Charities are so unique and varied that they have assets and activation opportunities that many properties cannot offer, so charities must invest in the understanding of their audience, realising their USP and harnessing this for their commercial benefit. Additionally, we stress that charities need to be proactive! To get sponsors, you can’t wait for the proposals to come to you, you need to make them yourselves.

Changing the Brand Mindset

Attitudes of brands need to adjust too. There’s generally a timid behaviour towards charities: ‘we have to do this for goodwill, but we can’t use this as a commercial opportunity’… Of course, you can! Charities want to work with relevant brands to create value for their audience just like a music festival or sports team does. Being actively involved in a sponsorship that has a strong fit with your demographic will create value for the charities consumers and help your brand reach a more holistic set of objectives. This will lead to a more authentic long-term relationship, which will be far more effective than simply donating to a goodwill cause.

One charity that is following our approach is Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK). We spoke with Ramon Smits, the charity’s Business Development Manager, to understand what they think sets them apart and what their advice for other charities is: “MDUK understands that charities usually represent an opportunity for corporate philanthropy, but in recent times we have realised the commercial value of our own brand. We are the leading charity for muscle wasting diseases, which is a great title for partners to align themselves with! Through Slingshot, we have understood how to use our unique assets to boost our sponsorship revenue. We believe that other charities can benefit massively from truly understanding who their audience is and what they could offer potential partners; knowing that is vital to showcase your value and attract sponsorship!”

Slingshot can help with any enquiries about sponsorship. If taking your sponsorship strategy seriously is of interest to you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!


Sponsorship in CSR – Is it effective or a ruse? 15th August, 2016

Some of the biggest players in the sponsorship market are either moving away from traditional sporting platforms or are bolstering their CSR policies with social and cultural sponsorship. CSR used to be about managing areas that a brand could twist in their favour to generate positive headlines and is typically solely focused on public image. It could be said that some brands simply invest into platforms as they think it will make them look like they are making a difference.

With the increased focus on the environment, businesses are invested in embedding the sustainable, charitable, cultural and social sponsorship in their CSR policies. This can bolster their offering and help increase customer loyalty, public perception and employee engagement.

The primary objective of sponsorship in this space is generally not to drive revenue for the brand, but this can of course happen. In essence, these CSR policies are used to communicate to the wider audience that the business i.e. Banks, Oil Companies and Hedge Funds are giving back to the community and the wider ecosystem.

A large majority of CSR sponsorship takes place geographically close to the sponsors HQ. The main reason for this is so the brand can be seen to be involved with its local community and help encourage local or smaller not for profit businesses. Brands will also use these sponsorships to encourage employees to partake in wholesome activities to enrich their lives and ultimately, for effective employee engagement.

But can sponsorship within CSR actually make a difference to public image of the brand, benefit the rights holder and, in turn, help the wider community?

A perfect example of how this can backfire is BP’s recent withdrawal from sponsorship of their 27 year relationship with the Tate Gallery.

From the very beginning the partnership was tainted with regular protests and criticism. It was difficult to see how BP were involved with these institutions other than to try to improve public perception of the company. A company that is seen to only care about profits and continually harm the environment.

It was revealed that BP’s financial contribution to the gallery was between £150k-£330k per year, and their main reason for withdrawal was due to tightened budgets. So, it can be forgiven that the public didn’t really see this as a real reason when in 2015 BP’s CEO was awarded a $1.4m cash bonus! In this case, it also reflects negatively on the rights holder. They have the power whether or not they approve a brand as a sponsor and it must be more than just the money.

For a successful sponsorship to happen, not just within CSR, there must be a genuine alignment and a visible proof the brands involvement is benefiting the rights holder. These sponsorships can naturally unlock unique assets from the rights holder such as providing the opportunity to offer money can’t buy experiences to client’s such as late night gallery viewings, interviews with artists or even just a different space to conduct board meetings.

Once a strong proposition has been created and integrated then the sponsor can start to think about generating an ROI. Otherwise it is essentially sponsoring with the hope it can make a difference to the brands public image.


Top 5 Tips On Maximising Sponsorship At Your Next Event 8th April, 2016

Sponsorship is not only important for generating financial resources but also is crucial in creating credibility, brand experience, audience engagement and goodwill. Which begs the question, why don’t more events or platforms bring sponsors on-board? A recent survey in Admap magazine showed 86% of sport fans welcome brand interaction as they believe it will improve their experience.

One issue experienced within the event industry is that brands rarely maximise the ROI from the events they integrate with, as such they dismiss many opportunities whilst squandering their marketing budget on archaic forms of promotion such as logos badging instead of recognizing the real benefits that lay within sponsorship.

  1. Monetary Benefits

Sponsoring events that have your target audience provides brands the opportunity to:

  • reduce marketing budget spend through the efficient use of marketing budget and integration
  • increase direct sales
  • gain PR content through involvement and activation
  1. Brand Experience

Sponsorship of an event offers organisations a platform to access their target audience – creating meaningful brand experiences. This enables the brand to let the audience become part of the brand and product. The experience is always dependant on the product’s interaction capabilities, but a successful brand experience is always more engaging than a logo. Through this criteria the engagement becomes measureable and transparent for the brand as it allows real-time feedback from their consumers.

  1. Increasing the Halo effect

A company who integrates with a charity event as a sponsor to meet their CSR targets is able to improve their public relations and any other CSR goals set. Through integration they have the opportunity to create a positive impact on their social environment. Pro bono and charity work has long been part of company’s ethos and sponsorship also offers this to all brands. In addition, it allows employees to engage with the charity and align with brand values.

  1. Audience Engagement

Sponsorship offers brands a great opportunity to engage their target audience, offering meaningful and lasting investment resonance.  Brands need to uncover their own assets within the event’s rights and increase the overall event experience of attendees.

  1. Reputation Improvement

A corporate relationship with an event can provide an enhanced reputation of a brand and also secures a competitive advantage to rivals in business. An event which aligns to the image of a sponsor has the potential to further strengthen credibility.

When BP’s catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico occurred, sponsoring the Olympics was a quick and fairly easy way to manage their global reputation crisis – supporting their sustainability credentials.

With the vast and significant benefits that sponsorship of events offers brands – it would be fatal to not include it within the marketing mix.

Digital Unite Appoint Slingshot Sponsorship as Exclusive Sponsorship Agency 20th August, 2012

Following the use of Slingshot’s insightful one day Sponsorship Boot Camp, Digital Unite and Spring Online, the UK’s leading digital inclusion platform, have appointed Slingshot Sponsorship as their exclusive sponsorship agency.

Slingshot Sponsorship will be working with Digital Unite in order extend and exploit the commercial opportunities presented by the Spring Online campaign which features over 2,500 events nationwide between April 22nd – 26th 2013 as well as additional commercial opportunities within Digital Unite as a whole.

With over 8 million people still digitally excluded in the UK, many of which being over 55, Spring Online provides a free, safe, and enjoyable environment for those people who consider themselves digitally excluded to receive free IT tutorials – these including lessons in how to use such key communication tools as Skype and Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family as well as how to use the internet for a range of everyday tasks that many of us take for granted including shopping, banking and watching television.

Slingshot Sponsorship will be extending the commercial assets offered by the campaign, adding value to brand partnerships with key benefits including nationwide exposure, unique CSR opportunities and the chance to establish an early relationship with a growing age demographic.

Jackie Fast, Managing Director of Slingshot Sponsorship, commented:

Following the success of our recent work with Digital Unite at our introductory Slingshot Sponsorship Boot Camp, we are thrilled to be working on next year’s Spring Online campaign and to have the opportunity to contribute towards narrowing the digital divide.

Spring Online is a highly unique campaign, proving testament to the ever increasing number of ways in which sponsorship can be utilised and leveraged in order to improve businesses as a whole. Given the value and scope for involvement offered by the platform, we are excited to explore the prospect of some truly ground-breaking partnerships in 2013.

Emma Solomon OBE, Managing Director of Digital Unite, commented:

We are delighted to be working with Slingshot Sponsorship on our award-winning Spring Online campaign.

Over the last eleven years, Spring Online has been instrumental in helping tens of thousands of people understand and engage with computers and the internet. Local events held right across the UK reach people from a wide cross-section of society, from the over 55s who have never been online to existing users of all ages who want to brush up on their existing skills and learn more, from rural to inner-city areas. Our fantastic Spring Online event holders provide that essential support and help show learners how digital technology can be relevant for them.

“We continue to develop Spring Online to make it bigger and better each year. Our vision is that ever increasing numbers of local events support more and more communities across the UK to make the most of the digital world – and to really enjoy it too. We are thrilled to be working with Slingshot and to be developing the creativity, dynamism and reach of Spring Online with them.