Knowledge: The Future of Sponsorship

By Jackie Fast on 12/02/2016

Even the most sophisticated organisations need to adapt to reap the effectiveness of a strategic sponsorship.

Sponsorship has evolved at such a rapid pace that the growth of the industry is currently outpacing that of advertising. This growth has been driven by fundamental shifts in the way our entire world has transformed due to the advances in digital technology – making strategic sponsorship more valuable to brands than it has ever been in previous years.

Sponsorship is no longer just about a logo. With consumers receiving thousands of marketing messages each day, sponsorship has the ability to harness passion points and cut through the noise more effectively than any other marketing platforms. Conversely, with so many marketing messages, the value of the logo alone has decreased significantly meaning that if your sponsorship does not engage beyond the logo, then you are not realising the true potential of sponsorship.

In order to understand what sponsorship assets are beneficial in today’s landscape, consumer insight and objectives need to be identified at the outset. In order to make your sponsorship work harder, look beyond the typical purchases of a branded title, tickets and hospitality and focus on how the partnership can truly work for your business overall. Priceless opportunities, exclusive content, and access (to athletes/CEO/VIPs) are key drivers for engagement and are often under-utilised by brands because they are not planned in or considered before rights are purchased. Focus on sponsorship assets that are based on objectives, not eyeballs.

The approach of using unique sponsorship assets to drive a business beyond marketing was taken by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the Maclaren F1 team sponsorship. Facing issues in supply chain management, GSK chose to sponsor the Maclaren F1 team, not for branding, but for access to their world-class engineers. This access helped overcome internal issues through strategic insight that would have only been possible through a partnership with the team. The strategic use of these sponsorship assets has since been rolled out across other GSK product lines, significantly supporting their business operation’s objectives in addition to marketing.

The failure of events and rights holders to evolve beyond providing a logo placement has driven a new trend of brands becoming rights holders themselves. Rather than struggling with the constraints of typical sponsorship packages, brands are becoming creators. An example of this comes from The North Face who wanted to build an authentic communication platform with adventurers, and when they couldn’t find the right existing platform, they set out to create one themselves. With the event creation wholly led by the brand, every element and sponsorship asset of the programme was aligned with the brand’s marketing and business objectives. Acting as a rights holder, The North Face took their opportunity out to other sponsors facing the same issues and secured Jeep as an additional sponsor – helping The North Face mitigate the risk of their investment and amplify the activity.

The pace of change within sponsorship is enormous, but fundamental truths still remain. The power of collaboration is vast, and our digital capabilities now make this collaboration easier than ever previously possible. If sponsorship is built to create mutual benefits, it is important to understand that what used to benefit a brand a decade ago is no longer relevant in today’s digital world.

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