Forbes Speaks to Slingshot Sponsorship MD Jackie Fast on her mission in the industry 22nd October, 2015

Forbes recently caught up with Slingshot Sponsorship’s MD Jackie Fast to discuss her journey through the sponsorship industry to date.  Insight on how to break into the sponsorship industry, what drives entrepreneurs, and how changing the model has helped to drive Slingshot’s client successes.

Read the full article on Forbes here.

Breaking into the Sponsorship Industry 1st August, 2013

I had a drink with two interns this week – one who had just secured an internship with Slingshot and the other, someone who desperately wanted to intern at Slingshot and even offered to work on the weekends to beat out the other competition.  Both evenings were relatively the same – a history on their experience outside of university, their difficulties in trying to gain credibility within the industry, and of course, the ‘chicken or the egg’ scenario – needing experience to get a job, but needing a job to get experience.

Ironically enough, I applied to a number of sponsorship agencies in the industry before I started Slingshot Sponsorship. But alas, to no avail..  Not even a phone call.  Not even an email reply acknowledging that I had applied.  And I had experience in sponsorship.  Maybe not the typical experience you’d see – much of my sponsorship experience was pieced around commercial marketing rather than sports sponsorship – but experience all the same.

Fortunately for me, my lack of the typical sponsorship agency experience has given me the opportunity to view the sponsorship model in a different light, which has been our key USP within the agency.  What is more, my past experience has taught me first-hand how difficult it really is for people trying to enter the sponsorship industry.

I was recently at a sponsorship conference where some of the debate centred on the sponsorship industry not attracting the best people – which I don’t agree with.  I believe the problem lies with the people hiring, rather than the people applying.  We should be focussing our attention on who we hire rather than who we attract. Having worked within direct marketing (mail, email, data, etc) I know first-hand how difficult it is to attract graduates to these industries.  By comparison, sponsorship is an extremely sexy industry.  Although it may not have the Mad Men appeal of advertising, it does have all the job perks (backstage pass anyone?).  And sport always is an attraction.

The onus I feel is on the hirers to think outside the box. Take a chance. You never know, someone might just surprise you. I know I did.

Slingshot Sponsorship’s Jackie Fast Shortlisted for Rising Star Award at Media Week Awards 2013 26th July, 2013

Slingshot Sponsorship’s Managing Director, Jackie Fast has been shortlisted for the Rising Star Award at this year’s Media Week Awards.  Since founding Slingshot Sponsorship, Jackie has been at the forefront of young talent emerging from the sponsorship industry.  Having only launched Slingshot Sponsorship three years ago, Jackie’s nomination for Media Weeks’ Rising Star Award is testament to her hard work and the influence she has had upon the industry.

Media Week’s Rising Star Award recognises young professionals working within agencies and media owners who are making a significant impact within their organisation and sector.  The award seeks to honour and celebrate excellence within the media industry.

Jackie stated: ‘I am delighted to be shortlisted for Media Week’s Rising Star Award. Slingshot Sponsorship has a drive to building greater awareness of sponsorship’s value within other industries and this recognition is one small step towards that goal.’

This year’s event will take place at Grosvenor House on 24th October, 2013.

Lessons the Sponsorship Industry should Learn from Kickstarter 15th May, 2013

Continuing from Jackie’s most recent blog, which expressed the inherent need for an understanding of sponsorship in every industry, I wanted to lead this blog in a similar vein. The past couple of weeks have seen the re-emergence of the platform Kickstarter into the blogosphere – a crowd-funding site that offers entrepreneurs, film-makers, artists, techies etc. a platform through which they can raise funding for specific ideas and projects.

Until a few weeks ago, many were unaware of Kickstarter until Mr Zach Braff (of Garden State and Scrubs fame) launched a campaign on the website to generate funding for his new movie Wish I Was Herea kind-of-but-not-really sequel to Garden State – find his campaign video here.  Through the website, and by the click of a button, anyone is able to become an investor in Braff’s film.  What is more, those willing to sponsor are offered some pretty hefty benefits – ranging from larger investors being treated to a character in the film being named after them, to escorting Braff as one of his personal guests to the premier and after party – not bad.

Within only 3 days, Braff’s target of $2 million was smashed.  Of course this was due, to a large extent, to Braff’s extensive networks (1,099,497 Twitter followers) and celebrity pals who helped him reach this goal.  Yet despite the project’s success, Braff’s use of the site has come under immense scrutiny, with many citing this project to be one of (soon to be many) Hollywood overhauls on the website – which they believe will overshadow projects that really need to use the site to create contacts and source funding.

Despite the Hollywood backlash, the success Braff has gained through Kickstarter and the buzz his project has generated; has led me to identify 3 things the sponsorship industry should take away from this case study:

1) It is imperative to tap into passions – Sponsorship should always be about tapping into people’s interests and passions.  As a marketing tool; the brands and rights-holders that have the most success, are the ones that really connect with what the consumer wants and understand what it is they need.  Braff was able to build on the cult success of Garden State and use the affinity his fans have towards the film to help fund a new project, giving fans the opportunity to join him in the films journey.

2) Not just about the idea – Despite the success of Braff’s Kickstarter campaign, an overwhelming majority of Kickstarter projects lead to failure.  As Michael C. Neel’s research shows, the campaigns that are the most successful are the ones that are able to promote and leverage networks, exercise connections and generate as much buzz as possible around the project.  In essence, this is similar to sponsorship – those that are deemed ‘successful’ are the ones that are able to utilise every aspect of the relationship at hand – not just rely on the basic sponsorship or ‘idea’ itself.

3) Corporates should learn from crowd-funding – Some of the best ideas and projects gain fruition from smaller, grass-root platforms like Kickstarter; and it is important that these projects are able to gain funding.  Sponsorship should be accessible and understood by all; not just large corporates – the funding of such projects will in turn help generate an already stagnant economy.  Websites such as Kickstarter also offer first-hand insight into projects that are succeeding and those that are failing – offering corporates in real time, trends within specific industries.

Despite the criticism surrounding Braff’s use of Kickstarter, the re-emergence of the platform has emphasised once again, the need and capacity for sponsorship in all industries whether big or small.

Sponsorship: Pushing boundaries in an ever changing landscape 24th February, 2012

Sponsorship is a very unique industry, one that is both growing as well as dramatically shifting.  At the moment, there seems to be an inertia amongst sponsorship agencies and brands at one end of the scale, while at the other end there is an active driving force pushing the industry into a more ‘grown-up’ and sustainable form of marketing. I’d like to think Slingshot Sponsorship is the latter.

Put simply, sponsorship is a form of marketing.  And just like good old fashioned direct marketing campaigns, sponsorship needs to be measured, creative and deliver results for the client.  Somewhere along the line, sponsorship campaigns have stagnated, which has created an industry that bases success on logo views making it no different to advertising – except lacking the creativity.  This was caused by the reasons sponsorship was signed off initially – typically the CEO who was boosting his own ego and basing brand positioning on access to hospitality boxes and exclusive tickets, rather than marketing ROI.

However, sponsorship is so much more than that and for the brands and sponsorship agencies out there who are willing to work a bit smarter, the returns can be significant.

My favourite example of smarter thinking is with the Direct Marketing Association who dramatically shifted their involvement with sponsorship enabling them to provide more value to their members at no additional cost (view case study here).  Rather than just being an add on, this membership organisation now counts sponsorship revenue as core to their business processes and integral to their overall income.

Another smarter thinking client we have is the What Car? Awards, which saw an increase of 1032% on sponsorship revenue this year simply by shifting some of their current activities in order to create value for their sponsors (view case study here).  For example, instead of just having sponsors involved with the presentation ball itself, What Car? created new promotional channels including promotion of the shortlist through media sponsor The Metro; providing sponsors a significant amount of national exposure.  Neither additional resource nor expense was needed as the shortlist was always part of their programme, but by changing the promotion and involving partners, this dramatically changed the value derived for the What Car? Awards sponsors.

We like to think we are pushing boundaries  and making sponsorship work harder and smarter for our clients so if you are interested in pushing some with us, make sure to get in touch or sign up to our newsletter.