"I Never Knew Sponsorship Agencies Existed…" 13th May, 2013

I recently attended an event last week in the events industry.  In a slightly different frame of mind than usual (buying rather than selling) I found myself suppressing my usual routine of championing our agency and our unique approach to the rest of the world.  However, I did get caught in a conversation  in which I was explaining what we did to an attendee of the event.  It took somewhat longer than usual, and even in layman’s terms, he still didn’t understand what a sponsorship agency was.  Finally, when I equated it to the people who are responsible for putting ‘those logos you see on football shirts’ I could tell that the light bulb sparked.  The thought of having to explain what it is we actually do would have led, I am sure, to a blank face and awkward shuffle toward the alcohol – so I left it at that…

Coming off of the back of the ESA Summit, and having read other articles postulating how  the sponsorship industry lacks the ability to PR themselves, this comment really made me think about our industry and what the general public thinks of sponsorship, sponsorship agencies, and everyone in between.  One specific comment made at the ESA Summit particularly stood out, it addressed the notion that the industry needs to provide fans and spectators a voice – considering sponsorship is supposed to add value to their experience and form a core part of the win-win-win best practice that our industry promotes.  And now having first-hand experience with someone who works in events, but doesn’t even know what a sponsorship industry does, let alone the fact that they exist is, quite frankly, astonishing.

At Slingshot, we believe that understanding the commercial benefits of sponsorship and partnerships is vital to business growth in this shifting market.  As an industry we really need to encourage education on its true benefits not just for our own industry’s sake, but for the sake of utilising these practices to build a successful economy.

Checking-In to Sponsorship with Maps & Social Media 4th July, 2012

With branding and exposure only being part of the modern day sponsorship picture, the focus for brands now lies on new and innovative ways to interact and engage with consumers. Via the use of social media and mapping applications, brands are increasing audience engagement by tapping into their key interests whilst providing the opportunity to play a role and effect change within a campaign.

How are maps and social media being utilised?

Competitions and promotions offer a return for the audience with consumers being tasked with finding clues and unlocking codes in order to be in with a chance to win a reward. The key reason for engagement here, along with the resulting success of the campaign is that this is much more than being entered into a prize draw and getting lucky. Here, consumers are given a platform to compete and earn prizes, rather than simply win them.

Alternatively, games and applications are being used to task the key demographic with using a campaign in order to gain access to exclusive content. Different forms of digital entertainment are generally the ‘bait’ with consumers having the chance to unlock content including videos, music and games.

Example: Competitions

Consumers are now constantly being encouraged to compete with one another in order to win prizes; a great example of this being Evian’s recent campaign surrounding their 2012 Wimbledon Championships sponsorship. The public were given the opportunity to win tickets to this year’s tournament via hunting down a Wimbledon ball boy at large and checking-in via their social media accounts once finding him and receiving a numbered tennis ball.

Clues were posted on Evian’s Facebook and Twitter pages as to the ball boy’s whereabouts with a number being announced as the winner of VIP tickets at the end of each day.

Example: Social Gaming

Thanks to social media, marketers are simply able to launch a campaign and communicate the idea to those closest to the brand, with consumers then doing the leg-work to increase both exposure and engagement.

A perfect example of this would be a campaign mentioned before on the Slingshot blog but a perfect case study all the same: “Decode Jay-Z (Powered by Bing)”.

With Microsoft’s Bing search engine looking to increase their relevance with a younger audience, this campaign consisted of taking pages and scenarios from Jay-Z’s soon-to-be-released autobiography and bringing them to life at the range of locations documented in the book. This included a page printed on the bottom of a Miami swimming pool, plates from Jay-Z’s favourite restaurants and even custom-made Gucci jackets.

With clues being released daily via Facebook, Twitter and Radio, users were then encouraged to find real-life images of each page in each location using Bing’s Search and Maps tools and piece together the story on a dedicated micro-site for the campaign.

By using a relevant subject relating to the target demographic (Jay-Z), Bing were able to truly engage the audience with play time averaging eleven minutes. With Jay-Z’s Facebook ‘Likes’ increasing by over one million and his Decoded autobiography featuring on the Best Sellers List for nineteen straight weeks, Bing witnessed a visit increase of 11.7% in one month.

Why are such campaigns so successful?

Social media and maps are allowing for a whole new category of marketing in which communication of brand messaging is delegated to key brand fans. The most loyal consumers are now working on behalf of the brand in order to spread the word and pull others into the campaign, whilst encouraging these new ‘recruits’ to go out and do the same.

Unbeknown to the consumer, both brand awareness and credibility are being increased and improved via the use of location tagging, posts and tweets, reviews, image and video uploads and more. This in turn creates a buzz among the target demographic, initiating a mass shift in both brand perception and buying behaviour.

By using a relevant point of interest and in turn heavily engaging the audience, a consumer feels that a brand understands their preferences and will therefore cater to these needs and wants upon using their product or service. Trust, and in turn loyalty, are therefore instilled as the brand builds a reputation for giving the people what they want.

Given the effectiveness of digital marketing campaigns and their increasing role within today’s sponsorship model, consumers can be sure to look forward to more engaging competitions, rewards and exclusive content from their favourite brands in campaigns to come.