Are traditional sponsorship models broken?
There is an argument that traditional methods of sponsoring large events are no longer effective for brands – they’re predictable and unexciting. Moreover, their sheer predictability means that competitors in the market know exactly what to expect from long-standing sponsorship strategies.
In this regard a recent post by Charlotte Rogers on marketingweek.com quoted the views of former Coca-Cola GB marketing director, Bobby Brittain, on the topic. “Traditional sponsorship models are repetitive and boring, and could leave brands at a disadvantage,” he says, arguing that “being a top sponsor for global events such as the Olympics is a model that no longer functions”.
CEO of sponsorship agency Levergy, Clint Paterson, says this is a statement one can agree with – if your definition of sponsorship is to slap a brand’s logo on some signage at an event, that is. He this has never been an approach taken at Levergy, where sponsorships are leveraged for optimal results in a creative way to add value for the brand.
He adds, however, that the objective of the sponsorship is key and will determine exactly what strategy is used to leverage it.
Whether the sponsorship relates to a large event or a small one, Paterson explains, the approach should be the same. The first step is to assess the natural fit between the property and the potential sponsor – is the property relevant to the brand’s audience and its message? He explains that a bad fit can actually do more harm than good for a brand. People are vocal on social media platforms and brands that are not adding any value to the experience will most certainly be caught out.
Effective sponsorships come about through identifying insights about the property, the brand and its target audience and then coming up with angles that allows the brand to add tangible value and better tell its story. Digital, says Paterson, has allowed for more innovation in the sponsorship space by creating more opportunities for maximising a brand’s association beyond the actual event itself. For example, it allows brands to tap into the fan base networks and work with other platforms and partners to further promote its message and create hype around what is happening.
Content has a crucial role to play too, Paterson says. For starters, it goes without saying that all content must be relevant to the target audience. “It’s about taking a sustainable approach to a long-term plan,” he says. Content should be used to build relationships and emotional connections with the audience, as well as to develop deeper and more meaningful engagement.
Ultimately, despite the way sponsorships are leveraged has changed, the biggest benefit of the sponsorship model remains the same: it is the best way to create an emotional connection with a consumer in a space that he is passionate about.
The big take-out: Levergy’s Clint Paterson argues that the sponsorships of big events still works effectively for brands – provided it achieves the brand’s objectives, is a natural fit, resonates with the target audience and is creatively leveraged.