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]

 


Is this not old news? The Evening Standard’s article: Goalposts shift as sponsorship game turns more complex? 2nd February, 2014

It was refreshing to read a sponsorship article in a national paper that did not have to do with how much a brand paid for their recent premier league football kit deal.  However what surprised me was not the content of the article in question, but the amount of tweets that included the words “fascinating” and “amazing” from those working in the sponsorship industry that followed.

For those of you who haven’t read it, the article outlines how the advancement of marketing technology has shifted how brands communicate to their audiences.  With Barclays pulling out of Boris Bikes and Vodaphone’s recent announcement of dropping F1 to launch their Firsts programme, this is clearly becoming big news. However, this should not be a surprise to those in the industry as it has been going on (albeit in smaller incubator-type projects) for awhile.

This shift is the reason I launched Slingshot and despite these large budgets being pulled out of single properties, I echo chief executive of M&C Saatchi Sport and Entertainment Steve Martin’s comment as we too, “have never been busier”.  This is because sponsorship still remains the best way to engage with audiences by creating emotional engagement beyond traditional advertising.

In the past four years, Slingshot has worked with a number of brands who have slowly been siphoning budget out of their larger media–based sponsorships into tester projects that have deeper engagement, allowing their internal teams the opportunity to become more creative with the rights they purchase.  Our results have enabled our clients to prove the value of this type of sponsorship (away from badging into engagement) against what they have previously been doing, driving larger budgets into more innovative projects year on year.

The drive for brands to innovate is leading this shift and in reference to the article’s ‘earned’ vs ‘paid’ media argument, there remains a great opportunity for the sponsorship industry.  As noted in the article, it is now becoming easier for brands to create their own platforms; however, the cost and typically the lack of direct knowledge in these areas significantly increases the risk.  Sponsorship can support this drive and really is what sponsorship should be about – working collaboratively to create something unique through the synergy of two of more organisations. With these types of sponsorships, the lines between rights holder and sponsor become blurred as the benefits derived from both are not just equal, but significant.

This is only the beginning of what will inevitably become a major shift in the traditional sponsorship model.


Driving the Future of the Sponsorship Industry – ESA Appoints one of its Youngest ever Board Directors 29th May, 2013

Jackie Fast, Managing Director, Slingshot Sponsorship, was announced this morning as one of the youngest ever individuals to be elected as a Board Director of the European Sponsorship Association.  Jackie will now sit alongside fourteen other Directors; setting the standard for the sponsorship industry for coming years.

In the wake of the success of this year’s ESA Sponsorship Summit, which addressed significant shifts within the industry, ESA is set to further develop itself alongside its new Board Directors.  Jackie’s appointment highlights ESA’s continued drive to enhance the industry – seeking to challenge the ethos and make significant contribition to its progression.

ESA was formed ten years ago with the premise to unify, strengthen and advance the business of sponsorship throughout Europe.  The industry itself, once predominantly focused upon sport and large corporates, has profoundly shifted in this time.  The body’s appointment of Jackie Fast to the Board conveys its recognition of the changing market, and the need for the industry to adapt with it – further promoting its role to inspire and innovate.

With the sponsorship industry worth €26.5 billion, the European Sponsorship Association will have a vital role in its growth and development into the future.  The key issues identified by ESA include:

  1. Proving Sponsorship’s Business Value
  2. Providing value to members
  3. Creating stronger links with brands and rights holders
  4. Technology – the way in which sponsorship can best icnorporate its benefits
  5. Thought-leadership

Jackie commented, “It is an honour to have been elected to the Board of ESA.  I have admired ESA as an organisation since its creation; to have the opportunity to develop and contribute to its decision making process is a humbling prospect for me. I am looking forward to really developing ESA into a body that is not only vital and leading the entire sponsorship industry, but reflective and influential in the marketing industry.”

At the age of only 29, Jackie is forging a path for aspiring young sponsorship professionals to follow.


The Future of the Stadium Experience looks Dark, Sponsors must Act Now 17th May, 2013

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend The Innovation in Sport Business Summit, which was in conjunction with the Turkish Airlines Final Four in London. The first topic of discussion was ‘Innovation as a revenue driver in Sports’. Unsurprisingly the general consensus was that everything is moving towards digital, social and mobile; making fan accessibility easier and increasing online activity.

All the panellists rightly mentioned how the sofa experience has transformed with a number of different upgrades such as the use of the second screen and datatainment (the availability of in-depth stats and figures, which make pub debates that much more enthralling). However it became clear that with all these technological luxuries, the appeal of going to a stadium may be losing its gloss. Today’s consumers not only want things quicker but they want things catered around their lives, hence why Sky Plus and mobile media are so popular, they align with the schedule of the consumer and give them a great amount of control.

This is far from what can be said about the sporting experience in person- a game starts at a set time, tickets are expensive and hard to get hold of, weather and travel can be extremely frustrating and there are still a large amount of limitations on stadia facilities (alcohol, food prices, crowd control, Wi-Fi, seating). No one can argue that watching your team score a last minute winner in person can be replicated in any form at home or on your mini screen but in this era ticket holders still deserve much more from the total stadium environment- up to date facts and statistics, extensive match highlights and in-game food and beverage ordering to name a few.

Sponsorship agencies are desperately trying to shed the perception that sport is all about logo bashing and big ad banners, but sponsors themselves must contribute by exposing their brand to a wide range of different channels, starting with promoting a technology-led stadium experience, even if it means investing that little bit extra. If sponsors want to capitalise on their mass brand presence at stadiums, increase slipping ticket sales and build loyalty and engagement with all types of fans, enhancing technology in stadiums has to be a priority. Sponsors must treat their association to a team or competition as a mutual and progressive partnership in order to tackle these glaring hurdles, rather than simply pumping money into a team and letting them sort an issue that is actually imperative to a sponsors’ ROI.

There is no point of having marketing strategies like brand advocates, match day content and social media campaigns if they are only visible to fans at home. The purest form of fan engagement is the raw emotional roller coaster that occurs in stadiums and only a handful of sports teams have realised this (see Arsenal and Manchester City). Of course teams like Manchester City and the LA Lakers have the resources to build multi functional digital facilities but other sporting organisations without as much funding must begin to collaborate more strategically with sponsors to enhance stadia experience.

An inspiring example of how successful this can be is the New Jerseys Red Devils Mission Control, the first digital command centre launched by a pro sports team. Mission Control, launched in 2011, acts as the hub for internet and social media connection for both the team and the arena, allowing fans to utilize the space and monitor messaging. This innovative collaboration with Prudential (stadium partner) and The Red Devils revolutionised the fan-stadium platform.

The rewards for this dynamic and engaging project was not only higher ticket sales and two 2011 Bulldog Awards (including Socially Engaged Brand of the Year) but it also attracted global powerhouse T-Mobile to sign on in 2012 as official sponsor of the stadium’s digital hub. The New Jersey Red Devils are by no means an elite financial sports team but it shows that if sponsors work collaboratively with teams and utilise the innovation of technology, they can help drive fans into stadiums, rather than out of them.

Is Innovation No Longer Innovative? 28th November, 2012

In a recent article, Proctor & Gamble stated that they wish to triple their rate of innovation.  Such a drive towards innovation is motivated by the belief that it will ‘lead to significant share increases, category growth and competitive advantage.’  The term innovation is now used more than ever, with many companies citing ‘innovation’ as a main focus point for profit and growth.  Indeed, the current economic climate has left brands, rights-holders and agencies to re-assess their strategies, with many recognising the need to deliver creative strategies and activations that stand out, or are considered ‘innovative.’

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) surveyed more than 1,200 UK marketers, 40% of which expect their organisations to embrace more risk and ambition over the next 12 months. This is also emphasised through P&G who, along with the company’s strive towards innovation, has stated that they will cut back on traditional marketing campaigns and focus time and money on high impact based strategies.  In light of P & G’s strategic developments, and the current influx of the term ‘innovation,’ I want to gain a better understanding of what innovation really is.

I want to understand what makes something truly innovative against a strategy or activation that is high in impact or creative.  (I do this in the hope to find a new term that has similar connotations, but is tailored to Slingshot’s own values.)

The problem with defining Innovation

One of the main difficulties when discussing innovation in relation to brands and agencies is finding a consistent definition as innovation varies when discussed between individuals, agencies and industries alike.  Innovation comes from the Latin term innovatus meaning ‘renewal or change.’  As a term, however, innovation has developed to offer a wide range of values brands and agencies want to be associated with.  Innovation implies an amalgamation of creativity, risk taking, the breaking of boundaries.  It refers to changing how an industry works, how an agency works, how individuals conduct their lives or changes what they perceive as normality; innovation implies creativity in an otherwise saturated market.

Whatever the definition, what is most important is that in many cases, agencies and brands that claim to innovate are not innovating and this is diluting the value of the term itself.  A while ago, Synergy asked individuals to vote on their no. 1 sporting innovation of all time.  In the running was the signing of IMG between McCormack and Palmer, with the birth of modern sport marketing.  The overall winner was the signing of Michael Jordan to Nike and the subsequent creation of the Air Jordan.

What is it that makes these examples so special? Well, IMG created one of the largest and lucrative industries in the world; and the launch of the Air Jordan marked the beginning of sports stars as worldwide brand ambassadors, and also defined the way that Nike brand today.  If we go back to the original Latin translation, these examples are true innovations as they both changed the industry.  Of course these examples are on a very large scale, and it can be stated that true innovations such as these occur very rarely, but I believe that the term innovation should be saved for instances that truly change the way people look and think about brands/agencies/industries.

What is important to recognise is that with the advancement of technology, there are so many avenues for brands and agencies to explore new ways to engage with the consumer.  If you look at Outlook Festival’s want for 3D visual artists, architects and designers to get involved to create unique stage experiences for festival goers.  Indeed, human experience is of the utmost importance when assessing sponsorship activations; and new technologies are taking human experiences to a new level.  There is no doubt that over the next decade at least, the industry will be looking for creative and exciting activations; it will be looking for ‘innovation.’  I believe that there are so many regions to explore, and all of the connotations associated with innovation are positive, we just need to find a new word.