Flexibility: The Key to Driving the Sponsorship Industry 5th November, 2014

Great sponsorship is borne from collaborative flexibility. The industry revolves around the ability to adapt and create innovative sponsorships that engage with consumers. An open-minded approach is a pre-requisite, the challenge for sponsorship agencies lies in absorbing brand anxiety and persuading them that sponsorship, strategised and executed correctly, is an incredibly diverse marketing platform that has the capacity to produce great return on investment.

The sponsorship industry has a level of flexibility that is unrivalled in the marketing world; where there’s sufficient synergy, activations can be created at any level of financial investment.

Three core considerations:

  1. Mindset: rights-holders have to understand the value that a brand can add to an event or product beyond financial investment. A certain level of flexibility needs to be retained by rights-holders to accommodate appropriate sponsors and their objectives.
  2. Budget Planning: brands need to be open-minded when planning budgets – an explorative and inquisitive mind-set is integral when considering properties they perhaps would normally overlook. Marketing objectives change and with it comes new opportunities for brands to interact with new audiences and events.
  3. Strategy: both parties need to accommodate the other’s objectives from the sponsorship – in most instances, both parties will need to be flexible when it comes to the actual delivery of the sponsorship.

Moving Forward

Flexibility is the key to delivering a successful sponsorship – the industry needs to not be constrained by pricing or bureaucracy, instead understanding how freedom of variance is required to create the most beneficial strategy for all parties involved. Clever sponsorship is able to deliver on virtually any marketing objective a brand might have, and so it should be doing so at every chance it can. The challenge is to look beyond the traditional benefits that any old marketing platform can provide brands, and delve deeper into other achievable objectives.

Think Bigger

The success or failure of a sponsorship should not be based purely upon ticking the boxes of each asset, but rather based upon the factors that emanated further down the line, the insight that evolves as a result of the synergies formed between both parties working collaboratively.

Being able to directly interact with a brand’s core audience is something that sets sponsorship apart from TV, radio, and outdoor advertising. If we can persuade brand managers to see the bigger picture in terms of the possibilities within sponsorship, the flexibility of the industry means that campaigns can be 100% individual. One of the most unique and exciting aspects of sponsorship is the endless opportunity; a little bit of creativity, vision, and desire, even if the investment is small, can lead to disproportionate benefits for everyone involved.

Football Sponsorship in Brazil Grows Up 23rd January, 2014

With Brazil becoming ever more present in global sponsorship discussions due to securing the upcoming World Cup and Olympics, sponsorship professionals abroad need to be aware of this growing market.  Specifically how Brazilian brands have previously been choosing sponsorship rights to how those rights are being activated in South America.  More importantly, with Brazil acting as the next global stage for some of the largest global brands – understanding their desire and ability to become more strategic in their approach to create more sustainability in sponsorship beyond the upcoming events.

Football in Brazil remains the sport that receives the majority of sponsorship investment and therefore would be expected to be the industry leaders in terms of activation and strategy.  However,  football still remains poorly activated as an engagement platform by both football clubs and brands.  More surprising is that the tactics used within football are not substantially more advanced than many of the other sponsorship platforms such as art and culture which retain a fraction of investment.

Valuation within this market seems to be the key downfall for rights owners – specifically within football clubs in terms of their property rights and additional commercial assets outside of kit deals.  For brands; it is largely due to poorly planned activation strategies.  Many of the deals are tactical in nature, which extrapolates the problem of long-term vision and the necessary time to truly derive value from the assets purchase.  Unfortunately the combination results in a lack of value for the audience, the brands and the clubs themselves – undeniably reducing the true value these partnerships can generate in Brazil.

It seems that in the most part, Brazil is heavily afflicted by a cultural problem that affects not only football, but sponsorship as an industry in the South American market.  Many brands in Brazil still purchase sponsorship and invest in properties within the same principals and frameworks as their media buys – making tactical as well as individual preferences based solely on the need to generate brand exposure with very little strategic insight.  As an industry, Brazil is missing real-world experience in activating strategies that really connect brands to their audiences and tend to play it safe opting for more traditional activation through media advertising.

However the desire to start utilising sponsorship’s ability to harness online engagement and experiential is growing ever apparent.  The next coming months will be telling – watch this space!

GB Taekwondo appoints Slingshot Sponsorship to develop sponsorship strategy and sales for their Road to Rio Olympics 11th July, 2013

GB Taekwondo, one of the biggest sporting stars to come out of London 2012, has appointed sponsorship specialist marketing agency Slingshot Sponsorship to develop strategy and sales across their commercial properties in the lead up to the Rio Olympics.  The initial activity will allow corporate sponsors to grow with the sport both nationally as well as abroad.

GB Taekwondo’s enormous success of gaining two medals from only four athletes at the London Olympics has presented a huge return for Team GB and an incredible opportunity for brands to align with.  The 2000 year old martial art has over 60 million participants worldwide with over 100,000 in the UK alone.  Slingshot Sponsorship will be working with GB Taekwondo to identify and uncover their assets in order to connect with this diverse sporting audience – contributing to a stronger engagement with brands during the growth of the sport in the lead up to Rio Olympics.

Steve Flynn, Operations Director at GB Taekwondo said:

We are really pleased to be working with Slingshot Sponsorship who are helping us showcase the sponsorship opportunities within our sport. Their expertise will allow us to maximise our commercial potential and amplify our activity – both with the sponsors we are currently are working with as well as identifying new commercial partners that will help us achieve our objectives in the lead up to Rio.

Jackie Fast, MD at Slingshot Sponsorship said:

We are thrilled that GB Taekwondo have chosen us as their sponsorship agency.  Sitting at such a vital turning point coming out of London 2012, we cannot wait to start helping them develop and grow their commercial potential – creating relationships that will help them realise their Rio Olympic goals.

Game, Set and Match: My Top 3 Wimbledon Sponsorship Campaigns 20th June, 2013

In a few weeks another chapter of the greatest tennis tournament in the world will be written. Wimbledon is not just one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world, but also a very unique platform for sponsors, or as The All England Club calls them – suppliers.

So what is it that makes Wimbledon so different? Watching the matches on television you will realise that unlike the Premier League for example, no sponsor hoardings and perimeter advertising within the grounds of Wimbledon itself are currently allowed. You may spot Rolex next to the clock, Slazenger on the tennis balls or Ralph Lauren outfits worn by the ball kids, but these logos are only allowed on the items and services that the brands supply Wimbledon with. Despite those restrictions, Wimbledon is still exceptionally attractive to brands. Sponsors can use the association with this traditional event across their own marketing mixes.  In light of this, I’ve put together my top 3 Wimbledon sponsorship campaigns:

1. IBM at London Heathrow (2010 and 2011)

In order to raise awareness of IBM’s sponsorship of the Wimbledon Championships, IBM ran an innovative digital advertising campaign at one of the busiest international airports. Over 70 airport screens at London Heathrow were been programmed to select match updates and players most relevant to departing flights. “On average, passengers look at digital screens 99 times during their airport stay. The campaign supports IBM’s role in delivering real time player progress to Wimbledon fans at a time when they are unable to watch the match and want to keep in touch with the action”, stated JCDecaux’ Airport Marketing Director Steve Cox in an IBM press release. Thanks to the live updates IBM’s screens would have had a fair few more glances at the screens during the Wimbledon period. Check out the video summarizing this successful campaign.

2. Evian ball hunt (2012)

In 2012, Evian used its social media channels to engage with tennis fans offering them the chance to win VIP Wimbledon tickets. In their ‘Evian ball hunt’ campaign, which was supported by tennis star Maria Sharapova an Evian ball boy regularly revealed clues on the water suppliers Twitter and Facebook accounts. Followers chased him throughout London and once caught, the ball boy gave them a numbered Evian tennis ball. Each day one lucky number was chosen giving tennis fans the chance to be part of the action.

3.  Lavazza’s ‘We are the queue’ (2011)

Due to the aforementioned restrictions within the Wimbledon grounds, the famous Wimbledon queue, where people wait for up to 8 hours to get tickets, has become an increasingly important area for sponsors to showcase themselves. In 2011 Lavazza got it right. Through their ‘We are the queue’ campaign, the official coffee brand was not only serving coffee to patient tennis fans, but also made their queuing time worthwhile. Lavazza converted the area into a huge playground and relaxation bubble, where queuers could interact with games. A dedicated website and Facebook page as well as a smart phone application gave Lavazza the opportunity to engage with this key audience further. Check out the video footage of this amazing campaign here.

Slingshot Sponsorship win agency contract with Autosport for 2012 19th January, 2012

Autosport, the authority on motorsport, has appointed Slingshot Sponsorship to develop and implement a new sponsorship strategy for the 2012 Autosport Awards.  Slingshot is briefed to increase awareness and commercial value for the event through the creation of additional opportunities and sponsorship platforms throughout the year.

Rob Aherne, Publisher at Autosport:

We are delighted to be working with Slingshot Sponsorship on the Autosport Awards. They have proven themselves to be a vibrant company with lots of ideas about driving our event forward commercially, and we look forward to making plenty of progress together.

Held every December at the Grosvenor House Hotel on London’s Park Lane, the Autosport Awards are voted for by the readers and attended by the biggest names in motorsport including Formula 1, Motorsport GP, British Rallying & World Rally Championships.  Winners of the International Racing Driver of the Year Award have included Sebastien Vettel, Jensen Button, and Lewis Hamilton.

Slingshot Sponsorship will assist Autosport with consultation and overall execution of a strategy that will attempt to forge new brand partnerships, whilst raising awareness of the programme overall for current sponsors Castrol, Mercedes-Benz, Perelli, Skoda, BMW, UBS, Parkalgar, and TW Steel.

Jackie Fast, Managing Director of Slingshot Sponsorship:

We can’t wait to get started with the Autosport Awards.  It is a phenomenal event and can deliver real marketing value to sponsoring brands.  We will be looking to enhance their current programme through the creation of additional touchpoints as well as integrating new sponsoring brands to help diversify and deliver additional value.

Innovation in UK Sports Sponsorship 21st November, 2011

Each year, towards the climax of rugby union’s most demanding league, the Aviva Premiership, London Irish Rugby Club host their two biggest games of the season The St. Patrick’s and End of Season Parties.

Last year with the aid of Slingshot Sponsorship, London Irish implemented a unique strategy with these games applying a three dimensional model that generated new revenue, promoted fan loyalty and increased the reach and exposure of the club.

These events saw the introduction of live music, entertainment, competitions, food stalls, and brand experiences prior to kick off for the sold-out fans creating a festival experience.  This changed the single match day experience to an entire day out for families and supporters within the Madejski Stadium.

Further to creating a more encompassing day for fans, it has also proved to be an innovative way to allow international, national and local brands to get involved with one of the biggest team names in British sport at a fraction of the fees commonly associated with sports sponsorship.  In doing so, the club has been able to create additional value for fans through this new sponsorship revenue stream supporting activity on those specific game days.

Experiential Brand Activations

In 2011 both events integrated a number of brand partnerships for these two games.  From the EA Sports Hub providing visitors with the chance to experience the latest EA Sports video games in a pop-up gaming station, to McCain Foods’ inflatable Track and Field Road Show giving younger fans a chance to be mentored by professional athletes at a range of disciplines from running and jumping to strength and reaction testing.

Benefits for brands included:

  • Being able to physically connect with the London Irish audience of young families
  • Communicating the brand messaging through the integrated marketing campaigns including game programmes, print, online, and social media
  • A platform to promote positive messages of sport and health
  • Brand exposure for local businesses to reach the community through one of the biggest experiential marketing, advertising and hospitality platforms in the area

2012 and Beyond

By offering the opportunity for sports association at single games, the St. Patrick’s and End of Season parties are attracting growing numbers of partners each year and in turn presenting increased diversity in the event content offered. This is inevitably broadening the team’s fan base; providing a sustainable and growing sponsorship platform, whilst simultaneously building upon the traditions of heritage UK rugby club. With St. Patrick’s Day 2012 seeing Aviva Premiership winners Leicester Tigers come to the Madejski stadium, followed by Gloucester for the final game of the season, London Irish’s two key events of the year are set to be the biggest yet and will no doubt provide the parties to match.

My Notes from Sponsor Summit 2011 30th September, 2011

I had the great pleasure of being asked to speak at the very first international sponsorship conference to take place in Oslo, Norway earlier this week – the Nordic Sponsor Summit 2011.  With a fantastic speaking line-up including Gerhard Heiberg, Marketing Director IOC, Keld Studahl, Global Marketing Director from Carlsberg and Pasi Lankinen, Business Intelligence Manager from FC Barcelona.

For those of you unable to make it, I thought i’d blog some of the take home tips, stats and insight from the conference.

My notebook:

My presentation was: Property Rights Owners Make Money with Social Media – you can download my slides from SlideShare here.

Herbalife Promotes Their Products Through Football 27th July, 2011

Herbalife, a global nutrition company, became the main title sponsor of a second time running international football tournament Herbalife World Football Challenge, the goal of which is to promote football (soccer) in Northern America.

Football’s popularity is steadily growing in the US, especially after the FIFA World Cup and Champions League final last year.  The Champions League final was viewed by 4.2 million people on Fox and Fox Deportes, nearly twice the 2.2 million who watched last year’s tournament final (Market Watch, 2011).

As Rob Levy senior vice president of sales and marketing at Herbalife explained “The biggest teams in the world are coming to play across the U.S., and the games will be on ESPN and Univision”.

The football tournament kicked off on 13th July 2011 at the Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, US.  A total of 12 teams are taking part, including European football giants Manchester United (England), Manchester City (England), Real Madrid (Spain), FC Barcelona (Spain) and FC Juventus (Italy); Los Angeles Galaxy, New England Revolution, Philadelphia Union and Chicago Fire from Major League Soccer (MLS); Canadian Vancouver Whitecaps and Mexican clubs Chivas de Guadalajara and Club America.  The football games are scheduled to take place in various locations across the United States and Canada in order to maximise exposure.

Michael O. Johnson, chairman and chief executive of Herbalife, added: “The Herbalife World Football Challenge is a great opportunity to expand our commitment to a healthy active life through sports and is an ideal backdrop to launch our new line of sports products” (MLS Press Box, 2011).  As a title sponsor and “Official Nutrition Company” of the event, Herbalife will provide all participating teams with their new line of new nutrition sports products, Herbalife24.  The deal also includes access into teams’ locker rooms and demonstration with the teams’ doctors and nutritionists.  The Herbalife 24 is a customizable seven-product line that everybody can determine day-to-day needs based on activity levels and training demands (Herbalife 24, 2011).

Herbalife did a great job in introducing and promoting their new products at the right time and in the right place through a successful tournament that attracted significant spectators and media broadcast.The tournament and sponsorship illustrates how a successful partnership can benefit all parties involved.

1. The tournament will increase awareness of European football on the American continent where American football, baseball, basketball, and ice hockey still dominate.

2. The title sponsor Herbalife will achieve activation, publicity and promotion of their products in the future due to mutual cooperation and partnership with each of the teams. Furthermore, the fact that this tournament is international will help Herbalife’s expansion globally.

3. And finally the European teams will benefit from expanding their brands overseas and increasing their fan base in the new potential market of 358 million American and Canadian sports fans.  Herbalife Football Challenge is a great example where everybody benefits from the event including organizers, sponsors, teams, players, spectators and media.

London Irish Rugby Experiential Campaigns with St. Patrick’s Party 22nd March, 2011

The highly anticipated London Irish St. Patrick’s Party, event 4 of the Big 5, will kick-off Saturday 26th March at the Madejski Stadium, Reading with a crowd of over 20,000 expected!

The legendary St. Patrick’s Party will include live entertainment and activities for London Irish supporters alongside the London Irish vs Exeter Chiefs game, which kicks off at 3pm.  Activities will include brand experiential campaigns, set up through the support of Slingshot Sponsorship, London Irish Rugby Club’s experiential/event sponsorship agency.  Brands supporting the event include EA Sports, Aviva, Highland Springs, Equifax, Hilton Hotels, Grosvenor Casinos and Pump Technology.

Jackie Fast, Managing Director of Slingshot Sponsorship commented, “By working with brands and the London Irish Rugby Club, we were able to support a series of events that fans can truly get engaged with.  Additional activities alongside the games provide families with a full day of entertainment, which is fun for the entire family.  This level of engagement is the perfect platform for brands to get involved with, ensuring that their positioning is reaching the audience at a time when it is sought.”

Brands involved had the opportunity to participate in sponsorship by providing an experience for London Irish supporters – an unrivalled opportunity to support London Irish Rugby Club as well as engage with supporters through experiential campaigns they were already running.  This provided a great sponsorship opportunity for everyone involved – the brands, London Irish Rugby Club, and most of all the supporters attending.

St. Patrick’s Party tickets are selling fast and with only a handful of seats left be sure to book your ticket today!

Call the Ticket Hotline on 0844 249 1871 or click here to buy tickets.