Sport Industry Column

Sponsorships: Content is king

2011-09-21 07:58
Andrew Ross
Comment by: Andrew Ross

As consumer habits and consumption trends change daily, the way Joe Public experiences the world changes at a frenetic pace.

Twenty years ago the internet was a “pretty cool idea” and ten years ago ‘social media’ was the glamour page of the local newspaper. These days, however, who can possibly imagine brand activation that doesn't use these media?

In the current era of Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn, leveraging successful sponsorships has to mean that properties and content generated from them can move past the turnstiles of a stadium and adapt succinctly to maintain relevance in an ever-changing world.

Sponsorships remain a hugely attractive way to deliver “clutter-breaking” messages and build associative brand value; but in a highly overtraded and cluttered commercial market, sponsors seem to be spending more time embarking on the “next great thing” to leverage their sponsorships. What they should be doing instead is quietly and calmly building a message that resonates with simple values and tangible returns.

So what is the recipe for a good sponsorship strategy?

The first ingredient is finding the right property with unique value that fits your brand.

To offer up the perfect example: we were asked to innovate the sport of cricket and make it more appealing to a younger demographic. We had a canvas that, although blank, included a re-invented form of the game that was designed to be quicker, punchier and more exciting. With this in the oval, the activation had to match the game in pace, in persona and in positioning. You can’t put lipstick on a gorilla – it’s still a gorilla!

Second into the pot is a strategy of multiplying the potential of the sponsorship property. One does this by using the core content of a message as a base to springboard across media platforms, messaging environments and creative landscapes to unlock value of the content. Sponsorships do not work in isolation of other messaging opportunities and, as already highlighted, a truly integrated approach to the message delivery is mandatory to the success of a great sponsorship strategy.

Lastly, good sponsorship properties need great activation strategies to leverage them off the t-shirt and into the psyche. Making your brand resonate in the correct way with the right target markets is a harder job than most realise given the tightly controlled activation environments.

Sponsorships are indeed the final frontier of strategic marketing as they deliver targeted audiences associated values and unique access to exclusive IP.

One needs to realise the true value sponsorship offers: the intrinsic part of a brand’s value. It’s a unique environment to interact with a brand; an exciting way to cross political, geographical and demographic boundaries and it’s not just a logo on a shirt.

* The Business of Sport Column is produced in partnership with the Virgin Active Sport Industry Awards 2012. Now in their second year, the Awards have officially opened for entries; an annual opportunity for the rapidly evolving South African sports market to be recognised for its work. Click HERE for more details...or follow us on Twitter: @SportindustrySA

Andrew Ross is the joint-MD, Maverick Experience Exhilarator


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