Sponsorship - Are extended exclusivity clauses outdated?

I still remember well how years ago exclusivity by industry and even topic were regarded as the key to success of sponsorship projects. The discussions on how to define industry exclusivity were often almost as complicated as the negotiation of the service package itself. Sponsors were willing to invest a lot of money in excluding competitors. The opinion prevailed that not only the individual platform but also the entire topic area had to be occupied. We drew pyramids (from professional to recreational sports) and sponsored or created platforms for each level of the pyramid. That has long been the key to success.




But times change. At some Swiss football clubs it is possible that two intensely competing banks (Raiffeisen and the respective cantonal bank) are jointly present on the jersey. It is common for an event organizer to have partners from the same category as some of the participating protagonists (e.g. motorsport). Sponsors are loosening their definition of industry exclusivity in order to save costs but also to give the organizer more flexibility. At the Lucerne Festival, this has been going on for several years now and is one of the secrets of the financing's success. These are just a few examples of this development. The surprising thing: In the age of impact measurement, e.g. in Swiss soccer, both the league sponsor and the regional bank with a particular club are very satisfied with the success of their commitment.


What's changed? How is that possible? Keywords are: Differing objectives, sponsorship activation, embedding sponsorship content into the sponsor's marketing activities, focused messaging and geographical differentiation. In order to boost the efficiency of its sponsoring investments, a company only secures the minimum rights package to efficiently achieve its objectives (target groups, target markets). A large part of the funds is devoted to the exploitation of the acquired rights. Positioning and differentiation take place via content-focused activation as well as consistent messaging. Today, the sponsorship platform operates as a means to an end. One speaks of activation exclusivity instead of industry or theme exclusivity. Such activation exclusivity can, for example, be the promotion of talent and the next generation, whereby a company consistently implements its commitments in the fields of culture, sport and society.


I view this development as very positive. Not least from the point of view of the rights holders, who can thus associate themselves with a broader range of companies (also from the same industries). Topics are no longer dominated by a few companies, enabling a more sustainable development (less dependence and more access). I am convinced that this development on the corporate side is something that even the most resistant rights holders must seriously reconsider - their concepts as well as their far too comprehensive understanding of industry exclusivity (e.g. Swiss Ski).


More openness and flexibility would be timely and, in my opinion, also efficient and therefore advisable.

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