Standing Out from the Crowd 7th February, 2017

The digital music streaming industry has become extremely crowded in recent years with several leading companies vying for market share and growth. In order to differentiate themselves, the major competitors are choosing ever varying strategies, with sponsorship emerging as one of the most innovative.

As of September 2016 over 100 Million users worldwide paid for a music streaming service, a figure that is constantly growing. The most streamed songs on Spotify, the world leader in terms of paid music streaming services, have over 900 million listens. Spotify, along with Apple Music, Tidal and Pandora (US only) have emerged as market leaders with others such as Deezer and Soundcloud also competing for the same substantial audience.

The key way these companies have tried to differentiate so far is through unique content. Tidal offer exclusive, high quality music videos. Artist exclusivity is also a tactic used by Tidal, as well as Apple Music, while Spotify has concentrated on having the largest offering.

Deezer has recently adopted a new tactic of differentiating through sponsorship. Deezer, a French based company with 6 million users worldwide, has partnered with Manchester United Football Club and Barcelona Football Club as “Official Music Partner.”

Traditionally Deezer has relied on B2B deals to increase its user base through partnerships with mobile networks. This new approach showcases Deezer adopting sponsorship as a key part of their marketing and expansion strategy. Deezer will appeal directly to consumers, encouraging them to download the app out of choice, rather than receive it through a tie in.

This innovative partnership with football teams works particularly well given the strong link between sports fans and music fans.  Whether unveiling a new player with the help of a musician, as Manchester United, Adidas and Stormzy recently did, or the frequent appearance of new bands on popular TV show Soccer AM.

Deezer are guaranteed to meaningfully engage this audience as players will create new playlists which fans can download. Deezer will also be responsible for the music on match day where further activation and consumer engagement will be possible. Deezer will not only benefit from the direct access to fans, but association as the music streaming service for sports fans.

Deezer are attempting to open a whole new channel to reach consumers, purely through sponsorship. Of course, Deezer’s competitors may choose to replicate this strategy, but Deezer’s imagination and creativity in using sponsorship as a differentiation tool gives them first mover advantage and a perception of originality that is crucial in such a competitive market. This is a demonstration of the power of sponsorship when seeking to stand out from the crowd.


Snowboxx Festival Secures Rockstar Energy Drink as Official Partner 25th November, 2015

Rockstar Energy Drink has been announced as the ‘Offical Energy Drink’ for Snowboxx Festival 2016 with the agreement brokered by Slingshot Sponsorship.

Snowboxx Festival has found a new home in Avoriaz, the heart of the Port du Soleil ski region. The festival is creating something never before seen at winter festivals, its own ‘Snowboxx Village’ in the heart of the town. The village will host a plethora of events, main stage performances, off-the-wall festival features & local food and drink stalls.

The partnership will see Rockstar Energy Drink integrate throughout Snowboxx 2016 having been granted use of use of a range of Snowboxx imagery and assets. This will be further supported by VIP competitions to offer attendees the opportunity to experience Snowboxx 2016 as a true Rockstar.

Gordon Donald, Brand Manager for AG Barr commented “Rockstar Energy Drink has always had a close connection with music and winter action sports so partnering with Snowboxx felt like a perfect and natural fit for our us. The festival has grown each year and the Rockstar team are excited to bring our unique brand of energy and party to Avoriaz!”

Following sell out attendances in the last three events, Snowboxx 2015 featured the likes of Jungle, 2manydjs, Blonde and Eton Messy for a week of music and slopeside activities. Now Snowboxx 2016 is set for an even bigger 2016 lineup with chart topping duo Sigma and double Mobo award winner Stormzy already featured on the bill alongside hip-hop legend Grandmaster Flash.

Aden Levin, Managing Director, Snowboxx remarked “The partnership with Rockstar Energy Drink is really exciting for Snowboxx. The brand embodies the Snowboxx spirit of living life to the full and there is a great crossover between the event attendees and their audience. We look forward to welcoming them to Avoriaz!“.

Final tickets now remaining for Snowboxx 2016 now at http://snowboxx.com/


A Day in the Life – Festival Sponsorship Management 3rd September, 2015

As another part of our Day in the Life series we invite you to Pula, Croatia and the current site of Slingshot Sponsorship clients Outlook & Dimensions music festivals.

The music festival is now in its 5th day with international artists and brands in full swing. The Slingshot Sponsorship team have been hard at work over the last week to ensure all the sponsors plans and activations are fulfilled and surpass expectations. Welcome to a day in the life of onsite sponsorship management:

Morning

  • Awaking to the near sound of silence (with most festival goers all recouping from the previous night’s antics) the team meet for breakfast at the festival’s staff area to discuss the sponsorship programme delivery so far, the plans for the coming 24 hours and to share any stories from last night (always entertaining!).
  • Following breakfast the team retreat to the confines of their laptops to ensure all images, social media and admin are planned and in order for the day ahead.
  • The rest of the morning is allocated to ensure delivery on any outstanding work from other client accounts, liaising with the team in London to stay up to date on any actions from head office.

Afternoon

  • The early afternoon has been a flurry of activity each day with a host of tasks and favours called in, whether ushering VIP’s to locating an elusive set of keys the team are on hand to ensure all activation is running smoothly.
  • One of the key features of Dimensions Festival is the Knowledge Area, an area where festival goers can create music, collaborate with each other and listen to acts and idols from across the festival talk about their experiences and deliver expert workshops. Sponsored by the likes of Native Instruments, Abelton and Urban Ears the team are busy setting up the necessary sponsor equipment, marketing information and ensuring all attendees are aware of the schedule for the day including the featured artist’s key note – a huge draw in the late afternoon.
  • New Era’s key activation at Dimensions Festival is the artist lounge. A place for artists to relax, meet the crew and other artists as well as access the range of New Era merchandise available. The team are underway ensuring the lounge is still in pristine condition, stocked with all styles and set for tonight’s activation.

Night

  • Following dinner the team are briefed in and informed of any specific requirements.
  • One section of the team are on hand at the Knowledge Arena to ensure the smooth change over from the workshop to the delivery of the artist key note speeches with a huge crowd set to listen to the legend George Clinton.
  • The remaining team are on hand at The Clearing to welcome all artists to the lounge, mingle and capture content. Tonight there were specific requests from a number of artist from across the festival stages who asked for New Era caps for their onstage performance, which the team duly delivered and captured the content from.
  • As the music continues until 6am, enough of the team are on hand for the rest of the night, a couple of members take the opportunity to visit a select stage or two of their favourite artists and join in the Dimensions vibe.
  • With happy sponsors, well delivered activations and content captured from across the festival it’s time to retire to bed and catch a few hours’ sleep before it all begins again!

Swift vs. Spotify – An insight into the Future of the Music Industry 7th November, 2014

With Taylor Swift’s recent decision to remove all of her music from Spotify, opinions have been forming as to whether this is a taster of things to come for the music industry.

 

In line with the release of her new album, 1989, Taylor Swift decided she no longer wanted any presence on the music streaming platform – Spotify. For years, Swift has been open in her opinions about music piracy and streaming stating ‘It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is.’

 

In response to Swift’s decision, Spotify released the following statement: ‘We believe that fans should be able to listen to music wherever and whenever they want and that artists have an absolute right to be paid for their work and protected from piracy. That’s why we pay nearly 70% of our revenue back to the music community.’

 

Despite Spotify’s insistence that nearly 70% of their revenue goes back to the ‘music community’ – it is estimated that artists only receive $0.006 and $0.0084 per stream in royalties.

 

Most significantly, however, Swift’s newly released album ‘1989’ debuted at No.1 in the US and claimed the largest sales week for an album since 2002.

 

Impact on the Sponsorship Industry

It is worth noting, that Swift is one of the highest earning artists globally and has the ability to sidestep platforms such as Spotify, which is not an option for many artists.

 

This case however highlights two key things:

  1. The music industry is finally seeking alternative methods to overcome the issues faced through piracy and streaming
  2. Fans are still willing to purchase music and spend money on artists they admire – indicating that with the right model, the industry can be profitable

 

The state of the current music industry poses an interesting model for the sponsorship industry. In the past ten years, the commercial departments in record labels have increased two-fold. Gone are the days where a Number 1. slot goes to the individual selling 100,000 records, now, it’s more like 10,000 (see Rhianna in 2012). Sponsorship, it seems, has become a revenue stream to fill the gaping hole that has appeared through the decline in record sales.

 

Not only do brand partnerships generate additional revenue, but they offer artists a unique way to engage with their audience. Alongside brands, opportunities arise for artists to challenge their creativity and create products, design fashion lines and direct music videos (see the video FKA Twigs recently directed for Google Glass or one of the Slingshot team’s favourites Nas, Rakim, Kanye West and KRS One’s partnership with Nike’s Air Force One).

 

As an industry, there’s a huge amount of potential for artists and brands to collaborate across a plethora of mediums. In time, this will ensure that the music industry remains profitable for all parties involved and ultimately creates something truly unique for fans to enjoy.


Monster Energy Partners With Outlook Festival 2013 24th July, 2013

Monster Energy has partnered with Outlook as the festival’s ‘Official Energy Partner’. With Monster launching in Outlook’s homeland (Croatia) this Summer, the US energy drink has incorporated the bass-music festival into its portfolio of live music events to launch a number of regional and international activations. This will include on-pack promotions and online competitions in the build-up to the event across 12 international markets; sampling at the four-day festival itself; and exclusive video content to be released once the festival finishes in September.

Mark Mylam, Account Manager for Outlook & Dimensions Festivals at Slingshot, commented:

We’re delighted  that Monster has teamed up with Outlook Festival 2013. The heavy, ‘live-fast’ attitude the Monster brand represents ties-in perfectly with Outlook’s young and passionate demographic, paving the way for some really unique activation over the next three months. The fact that Outlook is Monster’s sole music property as it launches in Croatia, illustrates how highly regarded the festival is regionally, while the global competitions  being run through Monster’s Facebook page show its global appeal.

We can’t wait to see the Monster  team along the Adriatic Coast in September!

This deal was brokered by Slingshot Sponsorship.


Bank of America restoring faith in Super Bowl mania 4th February, 2014

Ah, the Super Bowl – the time of the year that makes little to no difference to my life, apart from on Monday, whenAdweek provides us with the glory of the previous evening’s ad-off; with the added bonus of no touchdowns in between.

This year, we bore witness to a Clydesdale horse falling in love with a puppy and (to many people’s dismay) another showing of Bob Dylan selling a car.  Dylan sticking it to the man aside, the ad that struck me most was that of Bank of America.  The Bank used its prized slot as an opportunity to launch the company’s partnership withAIDS charity (RED).  The 60 second slot showcased U2 with the release of their first track in 5 years, ‘Invisible’  and directed fans to download the track for free off iTunes for 24 hours after the ad’s airing, with Bank of America donating $1 for every download (up to $2 million).

The showcasing of this partnership leads perfectly from the piece Patrick Nally wrote last week for #Synergy30.   Within the article, Nally makes the crucial argument that for the sponsorship industry to progress, it ‘needs to be directly involved in the debate and examination of the relationships between sports and the worlds of commerce, education, technology, governments and politics and society in general.’  For me, this 60 second ad did just that.  The Super Bowl had the world at their feet on Sunday (well, until the second half) and granted Bank of America, U2 and (RED) a platform not only to gain global exposure, but to raise awareness and funds for the charity.

What is emphasised through this partnership is the endless opportunity for corporates to use sponsorship/advertising at global sporting events as a platform for greater good.  Through the ad slot, over 3 million free downloads were purchased on iTunes – reaching the $2 million mark within hours, encouraging Bank of America to continue donating further into the night.  Such an overwhelming response to this partnership emphasises the influence corporates, global sporting events and even aging Irish rock stars can generate when given the right opportunity.  Of course, the Super Bowl is at the highest end of the spectrum, but what we need now is for more rights holders to offer platforms that can facilitate these partnerships, and for sponsors to recognise the undeniable value in them.


The Happy Gilmore Approach to Brand Ambassadorship 21st January, 2014

For every effective brand ambassador deal that adorns the pages of Marketing Week, much of the time I’m left thinking: ‘why is Rory Mcillroy talking to me about mortgages?’ or ’what is Pele doing in a fast-food sandwich chain eating a foot-long sub?’

The point being that I don’t believe that:

The result: a contrived set of dialogue that doesn’t add any weight to convincing me to bank with Santander or to buy a Subway sandwich.

For me, the best endorsement deals are natural ones, a.k.a. the Happy Gilmore approach (as shall become apparent later). When you believe that the athlete or artist in question feels passionately about the brand they’re promoting, it illustrates the quality of the product to the consumer and makes them feel the desired way towards it. For example, if Gordon Brown bored me to death about the validity of Royal Bank of Scotland’s fixed-rate mortgage rates vs their tracker ones, or James Corden waxed lyrical about how he eats a six-inch Meatball Marinara sub ‘as a snack’ I’d be more inclined to believe them and thus, trust and feel positively toward the service or product that they were promoting.

In order to showcase what I mean by a natural brand ambassador, I’ve compiled five of my favourite brand ambassador deals – all of which came about due to the ambassador’s existing passion for a product, before the sponsor and their cheque books came knocking.

  • 1. Mo Farah and Quorn

Tasked with changing the perception of Quorn from a ‘veggie’ food to a nutritional alternative to meat, the company needed a brand ambassador that was strong and athletic but was also a genuine eater of Quorn. Once the company’s researchers found that Mo Farah had used Quorn as part of the training regime that saw him win two gold medals at the London Olympics – they jumped at the opportunity.  Quorn invested significant funds into the campaign to highlight how effective Quorn can be as part of the average (and the not so average) person’s diet. The partnership worked so well that they plan to use Mo in a series of television adverts throughout 2014. The first release, which came out on New Year’s Day, is a fantastic showcase of how Mo uses Quorn in his diet to beat the rest of the field.

 

  • 2. George Foreman and the George Foreman Grill

Contrary to public belief, George Foreman did not actually invent the ‘lean, mean, fat grilling machine.’ Rather, he was approached in the earliest stages of design and was partly responsible for the machine’s thirty degree tilt – a technique his wife used to reduce the amount of fat consumed during the family’s weekly burger nights. Foreman was also infamous for eating two reduced-fat hamburgers before each fight, including his comeback in 1994, aged 45, in which he retained the World Heavy-weight World Championship, making him the ideal ambassador to promote the machine’s ‘miraculous’ fat-reducing capabilities.

 

  • 3. Run DMC and Adidas

Hip-hop music arguably has a stronger links to fashion than any other musical genre, with numerous tracks named after artist’s favourite footwear, hat or sunglasses. Indeed, no partnership was more iconic than Adidas’ sponsorship of the Queens’ based trio: Run DMC. Initially borrowed from prison ‘fashion’, the group became famous for wearing Adidas sneakers without shoelaces. This was followed up with ‘My Adidas’ – the first single of their third album: Raising Hell. With the group firmly established as one of the best-selling hip hop groups of all time, Adidas partnered with Run DMC for $1.6million and made a long-term strategic allegiance both to Run-DMC and hip-hop throughout the 90s.

 

  • 4. Example and Nandos

Following a tongue in cheek video professing his love for the Portguese food chain’s peri-peri chicken, back in 2010, Nando’s created a special black loyalty card that gave Example the spicy chicken goodness whenever he feels like it. In order to repay what most inner-city dwellers would give their left ear for, Example performed four acoustic sets at carefully selected restaurants across London. Since 2010, Example has continued to tweet his stalker-like devotion for his favourite chicken eatery, acting as priceless, genuine promotion of the now universal restaurant chain.

 

  • 5. Happy Gilmore and Subway

Lastly, and arguably the most natural endorsement deal to date: the Happy Gilmore and Subway partnership. The eagerness in his voice, the knowing look of excitement in his eyes as to what awaits and his delicate grasp of his treasure, all show that there is no greater fan of Subway’s Turkey Club sandwich. In direct contrast to Pele’s rather awkward Subway deal, you believe that Happy Gilmore would stroll into a Subway on a Monday afternoon and demolish a foot-long Turkey sandwich… and that makes me want a Turkey Sub.


Connecting with the Youth- Successful Sponsorship Strategies to Young People 3rd December, 2013

Digital media proliferation has led to social media platforms becoming paramount to successful sponsorship strategies directed at the youth. Younger consumers also tend to be far more receptive to campaigns based around their passions, of which sport and music are the most universal.

Deloitte and Further Education

Sponsorship campaigns in Universities are becoming increasingly common, with the most well-known examples coming through sport. Deloitte’s collaboration with the British Universities and Colleges Sport body (BUCS) is particularly successful. The 5-year partnership deal focuses on a ‘Leadership Academy’ model which delivers events to BUCS members to experience and develop leadership and communication skills.

Through the partnership, Deloitte has first-hand access to thousands of graduates which enables them to maintain their position as one of the top graduate employers (#2 in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers 2013). It also gives Deloitte an opportunity to build a rapport with students, making them a leading choice for career-searching graduates.

Spotify and Bacardi on Tour

Consumers tend to be more receptive to campaigns that draw upon personal interests. ‘Spotify on Tour’ tapped into this by teaming up with Bacardi to bring music based experiences to fans across America. They created intimate gigs and festivals with renowned artists such as Ed Sheeran and Kendrick Lemar with an emphasis on musical discovery for real music lovers.

The project was supported by a dedicated ‘Spotify on Tour’ which enabled sharing of tour dates, exclusive images and video content. The campaign resonated with the younger generation, which in turn helped Spotify increase its Facebook ‘likes’ to over 2.7 million.

Coca-Cola – Fusion of Music and Sport

Sporting events also represent golden opportunities to engage with young people. Coca-Cola directed its sponsorship of London 2012 towards the youth with the innovative ‘Move to the Beat’ campaign. ‘Move to the Beat’ celebrated British talent by combining the critically acclaimed architects Pernilla & Asif and award winning DJ Mark Ronson. It was based over four different platforms: the Coca-Cola song, documentary, Facebook app and the Coca-Cola Olympic Games pavilion, and had the overall objective of bringing ‘teens closer to the Olympic Games by fusing sport with their passion for music’. The campaign generated a vast amount of online activity including 245 million search impressions, an additional 1.5 million Facebook likes and 21,000 Twitter followers. In addition, Coke became the 2nd most talked about brand during the London Olympics.

Much of the success of these campaigns can be attributed to the use of highly  relevant content for young people and the right platform for the market. Given the significant changes to the way young people are now marketed to it will be fascinating to see how the sponsorship landscape continues to evolve and how brands adapt to this fertile marketing demographic.


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.