Why Sponsorship Continues to Prevail 24th October, 2011

With sponsorship budgets continuing to increase year upon year, what advantages does this innovative marketing medium have over those more traditional elements of the advertising mix?

Engaging the Consumer

With marketing mediums such as advertising and sales promotions becoming ever more saturated, companies need to be extremely creative in their efforts to gain brand exposure – especially in terms of activations and partnerships.

Especially with today’s average consumer receiving more information on the products and services available to them at a much higher frequency than ever before, traditional marketing methods are becoming significantly less effective as the general public require something more innovative and engaging in order to provide a focal point within today’s plethora of commercial activity.


Sponsorship is invaluable within the marketing mix as it touches on all the consumer interaction with a property and brand. It can include and is typically a combination of brand advertising, sales promotions, email marketing, experiential, sampling, and social media. A truly engaging sponsorship campaign provides cut-through because it has built a relationship and a commitment to the audience. This relationship creates a primed and responsive avenue to deliver brand messaging, ensuring that the marketing does not fall on deaf ears.

Added Value

An additional reason behind the growing use of sponsorship is down to the value that a partner can bring to a property. Whereas simple branding and promotions result in only a financial benefit to the rights holder, sponsorship provides the opportunity for much more engagement with all parties involved. This can include enhancing the experience of the guest whilst giving the sponsor the opportunity to gain first-hand feedback on their products and services whilst achieving extensive exposure amongst their target audience.

As a result of the potential added value, rights holders are increasingly favouring corporate partnerships as an alternative to simple advertising, due to the added depth and quality delivered to the property whilst also increasing the number of channels for promotion.

The Figures

Emphasising the shift from conventional branding to today’s heavily integrated campaigns, sponsorship is continuing to increase its share of the marketing budget. Despite 2009 being the first time in history that corporate partnership spending in North America saw a decrease from the previous year, 2010 saw sponsorship sales back in full swing with expenditures growing by a healthy 3.9 per cent in 2010, with 2011 forecast to see an impressive growth of a further 5.9 per cent, seeing a total of $18.2 billion spent by the end of the year.

Global sponsorship spending, on the other hand, has well and truly weathered the economic storm, with 2011 set to witness similar growth as seen in 2010 of around 5.2 per cent, bringing worldwide spending to $48.7 billion as reported in IEG’s annual year-end review and forecast.

In comparison, advertising in 2010 is only forecast to increase by 3.9 per cent where as sales promotions have by far taken the biggest hit, forecast to show no signs of growth in 2011 and having shrunk by 3.3 per cent in 2010.

The Future of Sponsorship

Over time, sponsorship as a marketing medium has established itself as a key part of the modern advertising mix, providing opportunities for both brands and rights holders that traditional forms of advertising cannot.

With the recent social media boom also taking sponsorship opportunities to a whole new level, the medium is now more powerful than ever. Integrating social media platforms presents a further development of integration with a fraction of the cost you would have with print – creating truly cost-effective marketing campaigns.

With an increasing number of companies owing a boom in brand awareness to engaging corporate partnerships, the growth in sponsorship is showing no sign of slowing down reflecting the increasing demand for innovation in today’s marketing environment.

5 Sponsorship Predictions for 2011 5th January, 2011

We anticipate that 2011 is going to be a great year with a lot of changes in sponsorship.  Not only for Slingshot Sponsorship, having recently signed some exciting clients including Haymarket and London Irish, but also for the sponsorship industry as a whole.  With the Olympics around the corner, an interesting shift in marketing that has occurred as cause of the recession last year, as well as public funding cuts, we think sponsorship will take on a whole new meaning in 2011.  We anticipate it will be a shift for current sponsors, rights holders, and brands alike looking to break into sponsorship.  We can’t wait! 

But before the year starts, we thought we’d put some of our 2011 predications together and then see how they play out!

  1. More Engaging Sponsorship Campaigns: following the trend seen in 2010, we anticipate that the industry will become more creative in regards to creating brand engagement campaigns through sponsorship.  Especially with the 2012 Olympics around the corner, everyone will be vying for the title of activation champion and devising some thought provoking campaigns to catch the attention of brands. 
  2. Decrease in Brand Ambassadors: after the backlash of negative publicity surrounding Tiger Woods and Wayne Rooney, we expect that we’ll see a decrease in the sponsorship of individuals and signing of brand ambassadors.  Especially considering that the economic climate is still difficult, marketing directors are finding more red tape in regards to negotiations with the leading sports and music stars.
  3. Increase in Sponsored Events and Tournaments: as a result of the decrease in brand ambassadors, brands will be looking to for new sponsorship opportunities to align themselves through main sponsorship of the events and/or tournaments.  This will provide brands the opportunity to align themselves to the sport while minimising the risk of negative individual publicity.
  4.  Increase in Digital Sponsorship: digital sponsorship activation is starting to really take shape and drive sponsorship opportunities.  In 2010, we saw an increase in iGaming companies sponsoring sports – especially premier league football.  The introduction of these sponsorship deals has helped develop the rights owner’s digital strategy with the sponsor, enabling them to create synergy of digital resource.  Our favourite digital sponsorship campaign in 2010 was the Manchester United vs Manchester City online campaign with slogans that fans could submit online for the promotional campaign produced by Betfair.  This showed a great leap in digital sponsorship activation led by a digital sector based sponsor.
  5. Cluttered Market for Public Funding: due to public funding cuts in the United Kingdom, we anticipate that there will be an influx of adequately written sponsorship proposals for fantastic CRM programmes sent directly to brands.  As such, this will make it harder for sponsorship proposals to really stand out from the crowd.  This creates a great opportunity for sponsorship agencies to help educate the market and aid in creating credible and sustainable sponsorship programmes in 2011.

Whatever 2011 holds, we’ll be sure to keep you posted on our Slingshot Sponsorship Blog.  To ensure you don’t miss anything, please sign up on the right hand side of this post.

Slingshot Sponsorship wishes you all the best for 2011!

Professional Associations in their search for Sponsorship Sterling 1st December, 2010

Sponsorship is growing rapidly in professional associations.  No matter the prime objective of the particular trade body, whether they represent shipping companies or small digital businesses, they all share in common the predicament of shrinking revenue streams from membership fees.

Professional associations used to be key in growing and developing brands.  However, with the ever present flow of information, documents, best practice guides, white papers, and social networks available for free, membership benefits are now less vital to business success.  This puts professional associations in a very difficult situation.  They have less revenue to provide membership value, and yet are faced with current members demanding more value from their membership.  An almost impossible task.

In the past, events tended to be the second main source of revenue for professional associations, with delegate tickets far exceeding the supplementary sponsorship income.  However, in a time where free events are occurring daily and webinars are streamed from around the globe directly into people’s homes, even this ‘secondary’ form of income is finding difficulty in meeting targets.

Furthermore, our current economic climate continues to add strain professional associations are already feeling.  Budgets are being scruitinised and marketing directors are prioritising gauranteed and tangible ROI before writing any marketing expenses.

As a result, professional associations have had to start finding new ways of providing value to their members, which is the reason we are finding an increasing number of sponsorship proposals and opportunities available.  Sponsorship has therefore become a key revenue stream for many professional associations, for it reaches both revenue and engagement objectives.

The changes have also greatly affected the Direct Marketing Association – Europe’s largest trade body in the marketing and communications sector.  Chris Combemale, executive director, claims that sponsorship is now crucial to the mission of the DMA.  He commented, “Through the additional revenue of sponsorship, we can expand the number of professional services we provide, as well as the number of insight and networking events we offer.  These activities are integral to our purpose of promoting the business interests of our members and driving the growth of the direct marketing industry.  Of course, through pairing our sponsor partners with suitably themed platforms we ensure maximum relevance and mutual benefit to their target market.”

Although these sponsorship proposals are on the rise with professional associations, there are nonetheless pros and cons to integrating the two successfully:


  1. Value for the Professional Association: Sponsorship revenue amongst professional associations accounts for a large portion of total sponsorship revenue.  Whilst perhaps not as newsworthy as larger sporting events such as the World Cup, it significantly increases funding for many not-for-profit organisations, enabling them to continue to grow in the future.  Implementing a successful sponsorship department can thus help to create a sustainable organisation.
  2. Value for Members: Sponsorship not only provides a new revenue stream, but it also provides values for your current members.  A basic key benefit to membership is the networking opportunities and brand awareness professional associations can provide.  Sponsorship goes beyond this basic benefit and provides engagement with the members through tangible touchpoints, enabled through sponsorship activation.  Providing sponsorship opportunities provides value to your members by helping them to reach their current marketing objectives.
  3. Value for the Audience: Sponsors add significant value to the events and programmes that they support.  This is especially true with professional associations as they tend not to be as forward thinking as brand companies due to a lack of resource and funds.  By having a sponsor involved, the professional association has the ability to utilise some of the sponsor’s resources and create a more exciting event for the attendees.


  1. Lack of Resource: Sponsorship is not just a sales pitch.  It requires strategic thinking in developing the programme as well as significant resource in account management.  Successful sponsorship only occurs when there is a partnership built between both the sponsor and the rights owner.  This can only be built through communication and a very solid understanding of the other’s objectives.  Typically, professional associations are under resourced.  This means that while sponsorship may be initiated, it is often unable for it to be sustained.  This can then create bad blood between the professional association and its members, a result of which may be that the rights owner is pressured to refund the sponsorship money in order to maintain goodwill.  In such a situation, it would appear the professional association would have been better off not partaking in the sponsorship deal in the first place.
  2. Lack of Understanding by Members: For professionals outside the world of sponsorship, it can be very difficult to understand its benefits.  Particularly in a world where Marketing Directors are under pressure to deliver leads and guaranteed ROI.  Sponsorship can thus seem very intangible – in which case, even the best sponsorship proposal cannot compete against pay-per-click advertising.
  3. Lack of Expertise: Sponsorship is complex, and needs to be strategically developed in order to work with all parties successfully.  Professional associations rarely have this experience in-house, making it difficult to manage and develop.  Fortunately, there are blogs, forums and websites dedicated to explaining sponsorship benefits, however none of these can surpass having sponsorship experience at hand.

Some key questions professional associations need to ask themselves before undertaking a significant sponsorship programme would be:

  • Find out if sponsorship is right for you.   Do you have the resource and time to dedicate to developing this into your organisation?
  • Understand your members and what they want – will members be upset if they are financially unable to take up some of these new sponsorship opportunities?
  • Do you have an audience that is large or niche enough to build an asset from?
  • Do you have in-house sponsorship experience or do you know of a sponsorship agency that can help?

Sponsorship is a fantastic way to bring additional value to professional associations, particularly in this current economic climate.  However, you need to be very careful in its implementation and development in order to create sponsorship that is sustainable, as well as successful.

My Notepad from Think!Sponsorship 2010 8th November, 2010

I have attended Think!Sponsorship for the past three years and always enjoy the insight.  This year’s theme was digitalisation in the sponsorship industry, which is always a favourite discussion of mine, so I thought I would share my notepad in case you missed out!

Digital Statistics in the UK

  • 38.5 milion people are online and are spending 22hrs/month
  • video games outsell cinema and videos viewing hours combined
  • on average individuals receive 3-5,000 marketing messages a day
  • online content needs to be interesting in the first 15sec otherwise people won’t view it
  • 26 million users on Yahoo/month
  • the key benefit of digitalisation in sponsorship is measurement – you can easily track how many people are engaged

Online Brand Communication in Sponsorship

  • needs to be current and brands need to listen to what people are saying about them and respond accordingly
  • people want to create interaction, so interactive comments and discussions are how brands should be engaging with their customers

How to Make Sponsorship Content Successful Online

  • turn content into a game with rewards
  • use lists and rankings to encourage sharing
  • use a controversial title for guides and best practice documents
  • be personable and individual
  • content that is genuinely funny is usually shared

Sponsorship & Digital Tips

  • agencies don’t create virals, audiences do
  • traditional sponsorship rights are outdated
  • digital is about challenging perceptions about the brand
  • digital sponsorship activation influences long term purchase and emotional behaviour
  • sponsorship is not about immediate sales, it is about changing brand perceptions, which in turn changes purchasing behaviour

Hope my notepad has provided some insight into what was discussed.  Be sure to keep following the Slingshot Sponsorship Blog as we discuss some of these topics in greater detail!

Surge in Digital Sponsors 21st September, 2010

Sponsorship is gaining footing in the digital sector, where sponsors know how to best maximise ROI from these channels.  By its nature sponsorship creates ideal digital marketing opportunities.  It has the flexibility to provide platforms for brands to create exclusive content and online experiences as well as being able to engage directly with their audience.

One of our clients, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), has some surprising figures in this regard.  Seen as a more traditional marketing organisiation, you’d be surprised to learn that over 50% of their sponsorship comes from digital marketing partners!

Marketers are desperately searching for new and economical avenues to create stronger relationships between their brands and target audiences. One avenue that’s resurgent is sponsorship, which is proving a powerful way to engage with consumers. At a time when people are constantly marketed to through an increasing number of channels, consumer engagement is vital for marketers to get their messages across.  When reaching its target audience, sponsorship provides an ideal medium to facilitate this engagement by providing tangible “touch points” for the consumer.

For example, when Silverpop, a U.S.-based organisation that provides worldwide web-based solutions to its clients, was interested in building brand awareness among the top marketers in the United Kingdom, it chose to incorporate a bespoke DMA sponsorship programme within its marketing mix to do so. Silverpop chose to sponsor the DMA B2B Email Marketing Event in London. This sponsorship has allowed the right’s owner the DMA to provide new training for the B2B email sector while also providing the sponsor Silverpop with the best platform from which to showcase its expertise.

For Silverpop, the many touch points and benefits of their sponsorship proposal included:

  • A speaking opportunity at the event
  • Production of a joint press release to associate themselves with the DMA
  • Increased profile among delegates throughout the promotional campaign

This sponsorship provided the perfect platform from which to increase brand awareness and engagement among the people that matter most to the company. 

If you haven’t yet thought about integrating sponsorship into your marketing mix, or felt it wasn’t useful to your type of business, you might want to take a fresh look at your current marketing and what your competitors are doing—it may surprise you.

Collaboration – it’s everywhere 10th August, 2010


A new wave of marketing seems to be emerging everywhere.  Collaboration, synergy, sponsorship, integration, partnership, engagement, and branded content are terms heard on a daily basis.  You could even argue that the UK government is joining this shift in marketing by uniting two different parties to reach one goal – although that might be a little bit harder to argue.

It seems obvious that this shift has been made so apparent because of the recession – brands and marketing teams are now forced to find new ways of obtaining the same results with half the budget and half the resource.  Partnerships have proven to be the perfect solution.   By partnering with engagement at the core, brands are able to achieve more than what they could have achieved alone.

The most interesting thing about this shift is not the shift itself, but the outcome, which will ensure this shift will continue well after we are in recovery.  An outcome which has seen a more engaged audience, more innovative marketing campaigns, and strategic partnerships across all sectors and channels.

This outcome has been so influential that ITV now have a Content Partnerships department, independent films are signing sponsorship agencies to generate funding, and multi-national agencies are starting specialised sponsorship divisions to grab some of the market share.  Professional associations, product launches, independent films, and band tours are now realising how beneficial these types of sponsorships are.  Sponsorship funding is a multi-billion pound industry in the UK and everyone wants to get a piece of that pie.

But the best part about shifting sponsorship insight into the mainstream is the value – done well, these partnerships add value to all parties involved.  The rights owner receives additional sponsorship funding, the sponsor receives a receptive targeted audience, and the audience receives added value through more engagement with the event.  In a win-win-win situation, I anticipate sponsorship and collaboration in all forms to continue to grow well into the future.