22 May Sponsor integrity and the connected consumer
Brand fit in sponsorship is important but not always an obvious fit. It’s important to translate the sponsorship so that the audience understand the partnership. This theme has been resurrected recently in the debate as to whether there is any value in being a headline or an ‘official’ sponsor these days – the theme of the ESA conference http://sponsorship.org/summit/summit-home. Brands associate themselves with rights holders who best fit their own values, or how they aspire to be perceived by consumers.
There are examples of where headline sponsors lose out in awareness and value associations, if the connection is too ambiguous for the audience and not activated well. Even going to back to the 2012 Olympics, we saw 3rd tier ‘brand supporters’ like Cadbury achieving higher spontaneous recall than a brand like P&G who were top tier world wide sponsors (Interbrand, July 2012).
If we are going to deliver value to any tier of sponsorship we have to stop taking a brand centric approach. It’s not just about the connection the brand wants to make. We need to consider what value we are adding to the fan/audience/consumer who will be exposed to the partnership.
As rights holders feel pressure to capitalize on digital channels as part of the offer and experience, the right brand can create sponsorship activation that adds real value and much needed functionality to the campaign.
In digital marketing, channels such as mobile, content and social media, know they need to be entertaining, informative or useful to achieve engagement. Sponsorship partners need to execute themselves this way too to ensure the connection between them, the rights holder and the audience goes full circle and is clearly understood. The fundamentals of good sponsorship have always been about creating winning partnerships for all parties, the rights-holders, audience and brand sponsor.
A more consumer centric approach to creating sponsorship platforms is needed, taking into account that the audience is a connected consumer. We should spend more time understanding what they want and need when engaging with rights holders, and create meaningful opportunities for sponsors to engage and add value.
Connected consumers use digital platforms before, during and after an event, and expect functionality and engagement that isn’t always available to them. Better involvement of partners and intelligent sponsorship activation will support rights holders in offering this, benefiting both audiences and brands.