Recent thoughts on sponsorship

Everything is in flux. Change happens all the time. Standstill is going backwards. The required adaptability is huge. Contemporary sponsorship is a real challenge. As a consultant to companies and rights holders, I observe the market very closely. Thanks to my additional role as an active partner of the athlete management agency samm group, I also deal with the situation and views of the athletes. A complex system, especially in sports. Here are some observations that keep me thinking.

The presence of sponsors in sports - when is it too much?

When I think of sponsors, I am thinking above all of alpine ski racing. Many partners are in the game and all try to market themselves in the best possible way. FIS markets the Ski World Cup and the individual races with a clear focus on advertising presence. The individual skiing associations are dependent on sponsorship and aggressively market their teams. More and more, they are truning to their athletes for services. The local organizers sell what's left for them. And last but not least, the athletes. They see the few remaining sponsorship opportunities as a great chance to increase their income. But this winter things went over the top: Drinking bottles have become an omnipresent advertising medium and are given a completely excessive advertising presence (in relation to the payments made by the respective sponsors). This is a nuisance during interviews in the Finish Area, where the bottles are penetratingly pushed into the camera image or placed by consultants or Swiss Ski employees (even if the athlete has no free hand because of the Crystal Globe!). I hope that the motto "quality before quantity" will soon apply here again.

Sponsorship, CSR and Patronage: Merging Commitments

There is not much left of the previously clear demarcations and strict separation between marketing and social responsibility (CSR). This leads to new opportunities and above all promotes socially and CSR-oriented sponsorship. Marketing activities with these topics are now also accepted by our public. In the past, companies were only allowed to engage in these issues indirectly, i.e. as patrons.

Sponsors become "Cherry Pickers"

The era of all-encompassing sponsorship agreements with long duration and versatile rights packages is coming to an end. Services that are not required for activation or have no direct impact on the sponsorship effect will no longer be purchased. Tailor-made packages are in demand instead of standardised offers - in a complicated hierarchy of sponsors. For example, at ESAF Zug 2019 (Eidgenössisches Schwing- und Älplerfest) an extra category was created for the car partner outside the official sponsor hierarchy. The increasingly professional sponsors are challenging the rights holders. It will be interesting to see how the organizers will react to this.

Continuity with flexibility

Sponsors continue to favour engagements lasting several years. This allows them to implement a specific concept in a targeted manner. However, the service packages must be flexible over the contract years, so that any adjustments to the concept and objectives (e.g. sales are weighted higher than branding presence) can be responded to quickly. This is an important success factor today and demands flexibility and above all intensive support from the sponsorship partner. It's getting more elaborate.

Online marketing and social media at the heart of activations

Sponsorship platforms are undoubtedly suitable for the integration of personalized messages from ambassadors and personalities. Today, digital reach is what counts in marketing communication. Online marketing and especially social media campaigns work best when personalities tell emotional messages and stories. Whether influencer or well-known personality from sports, culture or show business is irrelevant, it is important that the sender of the messages is credible for the product or company in question.

Music – a sponsorship subject with potential

Music, in whatever form, has become increasingly important in recent years. Music has become omnipresent in our lives. Swiss music is popular. Musicians are exciting personalities and have a lot of potential for social media campaigns. The density and variety of events in Switzerland is very suitable for national and regional marketing campaigns. I wonder why not more companies are getting involved in this segment. I see a multitude of possibilities to position and promote a company or a product.

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