Don’t Fast-Forward Through Your TV Budgets 8th December, 2016

Speaking as someone who has transitioned from the sale of television advertising into the sale of sponsorships I believe that traditional television advertising is utterly overrated. I have spent years booking ad campaigns for well-known global brands who are desperately focused on ensuring that their thirty second ad is run at the precise time they booked it into. Even though that is virtually impossible to guarantee, given the ever-changing nature of live television, brands never fail to be shocked that an ad booked in at one time may move.

 

When I sit down to watch a television programme one thing I’m not paying attention to are the ads. According to data from Alphonso I’m not alone, with a little under half the population skipping ads. What does catch my eye however are the brands who are clever enough to integrate within a programme. Taking the time to asses an opportunity to integrate a product or brand into a television show is proven to be more successful when done correctly. Viewers appreciate brands who choose to support their favourite shows and will remember these brands each time they watch.

 

Many brands become put off by big scary price tags associated with sponsoring a television programme, however when you consider the engagement levels with integrated brands over the ones who are simply ignored or fast forwarded through during ad breaks, there really is no argument. I can’t tell you who’s ad ran 4th in break 3, but I can tell you the brand that took the time to relate to their audience by integrating within the programme. Brands who are still nit picking over which ad break their 15 second TVC falls into, must realise it’s time to wake up and understand the reason they want it to run first, in the back of their minds they surely realise no one is watching it anyway.

 

The limits with television sponsorship really do not exist. A successful television sponsorship becomes synonymous with your favourite show. They can also be used to drive a response from the viewers. Creating brand engagement is easy when you can influence the content of a programme as a sponsor. Sponsors provide a programme with the ability to be bigger, whether it be through sponsored segments outside of regular programme budgets, provision of prizes or even just product placement. This reflects positively on the sponsor, suddenly the prize provided to contestants of a reality show becomes something viewers at home want for themselves. This not only makes the brand desirable in viewer’s eyes but also memorable.

 

Brands who take the time to invest in a sponsorship at the end of the day see their efforts reflected in sales. Even though it may be a risk at the outset it is proven that sponsorships work and are effective when executed properly. Avoid being skipped, sponsor a programme, and secure your engagement among viewers.


The Engagement – Virtual Reality and Sponsorship 1st December, 2016

Virtual reality has now become a reality in the way we consume and play sports. It has come a long way since Nintendo’s foray into it, albeit briefly, during the 90’s with the release of their Virtual Boy console. Despite the name, there is one thing that Virtual Boy was not, and that’s virtual reality. The system was conceived during a period of fascination with VR and although being a failure, it could be said that Nintendo were the pioneers of VR… credit where credit is due.

The ATP Tour Finals staged at The O2 in London 2 weeks ago is the sport’s biggest indication yet that they are taking necessary steps to prepare themselves for the future, with tennis fans given an introduction to the future of sports spectating. Virtual reality pods stood alongside a multifaceted broadcast operation and taken note of the mass of cameras including, the Spidercam and ultra-slow motion cameras capable of capturing the flex and movement of each muscle. Inside the pods, fans were able to use the newly-launched PlayStation VR and its tracking camera and handheld controller to give fans a deeper look inside tennis and reinventing the sport spectating experience.

Sponsors jump on this technology as they can provide fans with never before seen experiences, such as becoming their favourite athlete with POV or taking them into the middle of the action from the comfort of their own home While it is early days, we expect to see sponsored messaging tailored specifically to the individual wearing the headset, allowing for much more targeted marketing that current networks cannot achieve broadcasting to the masses.

The use of VR has seen brands open up a whole new channel of engagement. In 2014 Jaguar partnered with IBM to develop a VR experience allowing consumers to choose the model, make, colour and features of their favourite Jaguar. Consumers were even able to hope inside the car to check out interior features with a 360-degree view, and to make real-time changes all through the use of a headset. Jaguar have had such success with the use of VR, that they built on their technology with Andy Murray as part of the #FeelWimbledon Campaign, providing a Centre Court experience to feel the atmosphere while hitting the winning shot as Andy Murray.

The biggest asset VR has is its story telling power, taking users on a journey to breathe life into the brand is one of the main components of a content marketing approach and encourages the target market to develop a personal connection with a brand. The opportunities are endless for platforms to provide an immersive experience for users to gain a life-like experience, Moto GP could use this approach providing fans the thrill of riding a race spec bike in excess of 300 Kilometres per hour around Silverstone. It is this type of experience that engages someone on a deeper level, something that product distribution or branding simply can’t tap into.

While it is impossible to predict the future and whether VR will play a vital role in our daily lives, one thing can be said for sure, brands will continue to deliver unique and innovative experiences to engage with consumers and connect with them in ways never seen before.


#Ad Spells Fear for Brands 24th November, 2016

Use of celebrity endorsements on social media have arguably become one of, if not the most craved sponsorship asset for many millennial-focused brands. Whether it be sport stars, pop stars, or people just famous for being famous, the upper echelon of these role models has such power and influence over society, and brands have benefited hugely from alignments since the social boom.

With certain role models boasting multi-million figures in terms of followers it’s easy to understand why brands are happy to pay out such significant fees to these influencers for product endorsements on social platforms such as YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, and it has proved a winning tactic dating back to the 1760’s where Wedgwood, producers of pottery and chinaware, used royal endorsements – in a time of divine right you can only imagine the influence that had on society.

The power of having someone you admire and look up to endorse a certain product or service is unquestionable, yet brands understand that to fully maximise the commercial potential there is a need to develop a stronger, longer term association with their chosen influencer so that all endorsements come across as authentic. Hence why brands decide to strike up sponsorship arrangements, partly because it is cost effective but also to change the perceptions of these influencers from a celebrity endorser to more of a brand ambassador.

Through sponsorship, brands can purchase rights to access these influencers across a variety of platforms creating a much stronger connection with the ambassador, which resonates better with the influencers’ audience. Within the terms of such sponsorship agreements, brands will add in exclusivity clauses effectively banning the ambassador from promoting a rival brand whilst contracted, again adding to the illusion that the millionaire role model really does shop at H&M!

However, recently the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) have been clamping down on this clear attempt by brands to subtly influence society – the 21st century version of subliminal messaging. ASA have stated that “if content is an advertisement, it should be obviously identifiable to consumers using the hashtag #ad” and there have already been several high-profile cases whereby brands and celebrities have been reprimanded.

Although this seems like a small formality to add onto the end of a Tweet, Instagram post or vlog, brands now need to ensure that this clause is written into contracts to avoid hefty fines. In addition to this extra bit of housekeeping, the hashtag has the capability to cause a much bigger problem for brands. These two letters have the potential to completely spoil the illusion for consumers and ruin the authenticity that a brand may have invested in for years. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how brands look to counter and gloss over this in future.


Support the Startups Supporting You 16th November, 2016

Investing in innovation and entrepreneurship is necessary for any business to not only grow and evolve, but ultimately to survive. Becoming complacent and ignoring advances in your field can leave you left in the wake of competitors that mould themselves to adapt with changes in technology.

Given that it is not always possible to rely on your internal team for innovation many companies are recognising the need to invest in startups with new and fresh ideas. Not only does this foster creativity and innovation under their brand but it also is a way to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to advances in their industry.

One company that has seen the need to foster talent early is Nestlé who have developed their own platform to actively invest in startups. Nestlé HENRi was created with the objectives to enhance quality of life, contribute to a healthier future, tackle global issues and make genuine positive effects for millions across the world. Not only is this socially constructive for Nestlé’s brand but it also has proven benefits for sales and engagement with Nestlé products.

For example, through partnering with the startup Blippar, Nestlé have since been able to unlock new levels of engagement with their customers for both Milo & Nesquik products in an untested AR territory. Without opening themselves up to external ideas and investing in start-ups, this would not have been possible.

It’s not too late!

For companies that do not have the resources to set up projects of this scale, there are alternative ways to invest in start-ups & innovation. Slingshot is currently working with Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC), the world’s largest startup competition supported by Sir Richard BransonBill Tai (Twitter) and Jim Breyer (Facebook). XTC gives brands an opportunity to sit beside some of the world’s most influential business leaders, while ensuring that they are the first to have access to all new ideas & technology that this competition uncovers.

XTC gives brands the chance to integrate their entire suite of services throughout key events at the XTC Semi-Finals held at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January reaching over 170,000 tech savvy enthusiasts, and the XTC Finals taking place on Necker Island in February 2017.

Anchor judge of the program, Sir Richard Branson, sees the event as an opportunity to uncover untapped ideas and technology, “we are hunting for people and ideas that can literally change the world!”

Sponsor involvement is still available for the 2016/2017 XTC program. Sponsoring enables your businesses to align to a category specific to your industry, not only allowing your business to judge the entrants but also positioning you as an influencer among the best in global business. If you’d like to hear more information about partnership opportunities we have available, please contact Hayley Williams at [email protected]

 


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.


Treat Them Mean, Keep Them Keen – Not In Sponsorship 6th May, 2016

Now more than ever the sponsorship market is packed full of opportunities for brands, making the task of securing brand sponsors an ever harder job for rights holders. The need now for rights holders is to not only understand the value of their propositions, but also find a way to differentiate from the competition to bring in that much craved sponsorship revenue.

To do this, many rights holders are now investing heavily to upskill their sales teams. In doing this, rights holders are realising that there is a great deal of prior effort and expertise needed to secure sponsors, and therefore retaining sponsors is perhaps now even more important than it once was.

As sponsors become ever more precious to a rights holder you would assume that it would be fundamental for a rights holder to make sure they go above and beyond on delivery, however, all too often there still seems to be a disconnect, as many brands are miss-sold on promises that are never delivered.

This disconnect will of course hurt a brand when it comes to successfully activating their sponsorship, but for rights holders, besides the obvious initial financial void and short term pressures that come with that, this could have a far more adverse effect in the long run:

Bad Reputation – people talk. It doesn’t matter whether the brand has paid £5k or £5m, it’s a small world and word travels fast, especially in this digital era with a bad reference only a click away. Much like how happy sponsors are generally very willing to shout about you in a positive light, the same goes for a disgruntled sponsor who will have no remorse when shouting about you in a derogative fashion. Having a bad reputation as a rights holder when it comes to delivering sponsorship will undoubtedly plant seeds of doubt into any brand when they receive a proposal about investing in your platform.

Weakened Platform – in many cases sponsors provide a lot more than just cash, they can add significant value to a property though a variety of means such as increased promotion, engagement and consumer experience. Having successful case studies and previous positive relationships are great tools when selling to prospective brands, so not having these case studies will make a sale all the more difficult. In some cases, the sale of sponsorship could also depend heavily on who is already associated with the platform (especially in B2B sponsorship), so losing one sponsor could potentially result in losing a number of prospective ones too.

Regret – rights holders with multiple sponsors generally have a harder job to ensure a flawless delivery, and will often find it becomes a fine balancing act to decide which brand should be given the most attention at any given time. In these circumstances, it is often most likely to result in the lower tiered sponsor being neglected, and therefore walking away from future involvement (although there are cases of this occurring with high profile sponsors also). Either way, it is criminal for a rights holder to fail to deliver on their promises no matter who the brand is or what they have invested, especially in today’s climate when it is possible for brands to become world famous overnight. Imagine if that lower tiered sponsor turned out to be the next Uber or Spotify.

Selling sponsorship is never easy, in fact it is probably one of the most underrated skills in business full stop. Due to the nature of sponsorship and the regular changes in strategies for both rights holders and brands, it is natural that some sponsorships will have a short shelf life and often nothing can be done to stop the relationship coming to an end, but to lose a sponsor due to a poor relationship or miss selling is something that needs to be avoided at all costs!

To learn more about the ins and outs of selling and maintaining sponsorship effectively – attend our Sessions event on Thursday May 26th or call our London office on 0207 226 5052 for more information.


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/


Long Live the King! Fast Food Brand Ambassadors Return Following Hiatus 7th September, 2015

Brand ambassadors have long been used by brands, however it is the return of a larger than life King that has drawn attention across the globe in recent months. Once over shadowed by the might of McDonalds’ Ronald McDonald character (named after former CEO and inventor of the wildly loved chicken nugget) the Burger King, King has returned!

Distinctive and instantly recognisable, standing at over 6 feet tall ‘The King’ has been sighted at various high profile events this summer including the 147th Belmont Stakes where he appeared with Triple Crown winning trainer Bob Bafferrt.

The King’s resurrection began at the start of the summer forming part of the entourage which escorted Floyd Mayweather to the ring during the ‘fight of the century’ against Manny Pacquiao in May this year.

Due to the furor of offenses and negative publicity following Floyd Mayweather in recent years, brands have been cautious to not align with the star; however reports have sited that Burger King purchased the rights for $1 million, becoming one of Mayweather’s first sponsors for some years (having topped the Sport Illustrated Fortune 50 athletes with $0 endorsement deals three times).

The mere sight of the brand ambassador in this setting created mass attention around Burger King. Social media interaction increased significantly creating over 1,343% growth interest for the brand. Yet not all interest was positive with many criticising Burger King for supporting the convicted domestic abuser across Twitter.

With Adweek reporting The King created over a weeks’ worth of publicity for Burger King simply by appearing in coverage of the ring walk with Floyd Mayweather perhaps this is the first in line for the fast food ambassadors – beware the return of The King, Ronald, and The Colonel.


When Doping Delivers – US Postal Service & Lance Armstrong 12th August, 2015

Following the fallout from the recent athletics doping scandal brought to the fore by The Times & German broadcaster ARD last week, this is an opportune time to look at one of the biggest and divisive scandals in sport. The continuing battle between Lance Armstrong and one of his prime sponsors, the US Postal Service.

The US Postal Service was a long term sponsor of Lance Armstrong’s cycling team, partnering from 1998 to the 2004 season. The US Postal Service paid $40 million in rights fees across the 6 year term with around $18 million received by Armstrong himself.

In the wake of Lance Armstrong’s sensational doping confession in 2013 the US Government are seeking damages of over $100 million under the False Claims Act as it was sold on the notion Armstrong competed as a ‘clean’ rider. In the blog Enter at Your Own Peril, Slingshot Sponsorship previously explored the facets that affect a sponsor when the rights holder is involved in controversy, however the current case has highlighted another valuable point of discussion.

The interesting development within the Armstrong vs. U.S.P.S. case is the comment from Armstrong’s legal team that the US Postal Service “got exactly what it bargained for, including tens of millions of dollars’ worth of publicity, exposure to more than 30 million spectators at international cycling events, and hundreds of hours of television coverage”.

Herein lies an interesting argument. The US Postal Service did indeed ‘get what it paid for’ with studies stating it received at least $139 million in worldwide brand exposure in four years. Bolstering this, in a document for a 2003 Postal Service news conference the Postal Service described the sponsorship as “may be one of the most effective public relations ventures the Postal Service, and for that matter, any other global service agency, has ever undertaken”.

The argument posed by the defending council is during the sponsorship of the team the US Postal Service reached its objective of overhauling the stereotypes of the postal workers, increasing brand exposure and driving sales and that the current revelations had no hand in the effectiveness of that partnership.

If the US Postal Service reached its outlined goals it would seem contrived to seek fiscal compensation over a decade after the sponsorship ended. With the battle still rumbling on in the courts only time will tell what the Federal Judge will decide.