living close to
How sponsorship works
ou pay money to own (or co-own) the rights to a player,
car, horse, event, series or whatever. Theoretically you
could sponsor almost anything. And when you get spon-
sorship right it can work incredibly well for you. You get the
association of being linked to a winner and if you are lucky you
may have a wonderful brand ambassador. The John Player
Special Formula One Sponsorship was an example of rare bril-
liance where the car was the cigarette pack and Ayrton Senna,
the charismatic driver, was a winner.
What has changed?
Sponsorship is economy-dependent. It’s much more likely to be
used widely in the good times rather than the not so good times.
In Europe alone, the Financial Services business spent nearly
$7 billion in 2007 on sponsoring sport. Any guesses as to what
the spend will be in 2009 or 2010?
When and if you have decided to get involved in sponsorship, as a
rule of thumb expect to double the cost of getting sponsorship
rights on marketing the fact you are doing it. Unless you fully
exploit the rights you shouldn’t be involved in sponsorship.
102 brilliant marketing
Sponsorship is very big business. But some heavy hitters are
questioning the real value of big time sponsorship. Here’s
what Antonio Perez, CEO of Kodak, had to say about the
‘The Olympics has become too political and divisive for most major
brands to continue to support with large sponsorships.
But not all sponsorship is hugely expensive especially if it’s
local or niche.
Sometimes putting money into, say, a golf event and entertaining
your golf-loving customers can pay dividends. Getting to spend
hours of quality time with important customers for your product
and services may become a really sensible investment. So too
may an investment in a cause-related event in motivating young
talent in your business or younger customers whom you discover
are very concerned about certain issues. This is about knowing
your customers, what they think and targeting them.
In general avoid controversy. Avoid
people who are on a mission to
convert. Your job is to sell more of
your product at the lowest possible
cost, not to put your company’s
money to charitable ends.
But if you are going to sponsor a charity, check them out
through the Charity Commission, speak to other sponsors, meet
(insist on meeting) their CEO and Chair of Trustees. Judge
whether they could speak winningly, convincingly and amusingly
to your key customers. Study their accounts. Judge how
important you’d be to them.
your job is to sell more
of your product at the
lowest possible cost
Why some companies get into sponsorship
The trouble is too many sponsorship decisions are made at
Chairman or CEO level, leaving the poor marketing people to
sweep up the debris of a glamorous dinner party conversation
which led to a good-idea-at-the-time investment decision, but is
simply not properly thought through and evaluated. If this has
happened you have little choice but to make the best of it and
whatever you do, try to ensure you merchandise the sponsorship
brilliantly. And do the following:
Make it look as though it’s thought through (sometimes
Sponsorship 103
Beware the wrong association
I was driving through Brighton when I saw a sign for the Brighton Trades
and Labour Union set somewhat crookedly on a rundown building on the
A270. It was, I saw, endorsed, sponsored or at any rate the sign was paid
for by Foster’s Lager. Why? What on earth did they see themselves getting
from this?
But seek the one that genuinely makes a difference
The dollars going into sponsorship says when it works. In Dubai the new
Dubai Metro is calling for sponsors. And why not? When sponsorship works
it works big time. So the Emirates stadium at Arsenal seems a great piece
of branding as does the O2 Stadium (aka ‘the Dome’). It’s now the most
successful entertainment venue in the world.

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