Sponsorship "Quo vadis" - My personal take

Studies show a uniform picture: Sponsorship has established itself as an independent marketing and communication instrument and is being used primarily for brand development and customer retention. In other words, a stable situation that makes those responsible for projects involving sport, culture and corporate responsibility confident. But this is unfortunately deceptive: some things have changed recently or will change soon. Here are some of these changes:

Contract periods are shrinking

Sponsorship needs continuity and stability. The rights holders wanted and usually managed to close longer-term contracts. This brought planning security and also allowed a steady development. But in times of uncertainty and rapidly changing conditions, companies no longer want to commit themselves for years. They aim, therefore, at shorter contract terms. So recipes are needed that give companies the desired flexibility while still providing the rights holder with the necessary financial security. One possible solution is to fix the sponsor's performance as stipulated in the contract for a longer period but to make the reciprocated services as flexible as possible. In this way, the services provided by the sponsor can be better adapted to his changed needs.

Hospitality offers in the headwind

For cultural and sports sponsorship, hospitality platforms are a very important achievement in achieving customer retention goals (appreciation, loyalty). The hospitality business has experienced a real boom in the last 20 years. Especially for cultural events, income from hospitality is of existential importance. This development was abruptly stopped by the tightened corporate guidelines on corporate governance and compliance. Inviting customers has become much more complex and various customer groups cannot be invited at all or can only in compliance with complex processes. Customers must also consider carefully whether they can still accept invitations, as the new laws affect both sides. Organizers must, therefore, create new sources of income or reinvent themselves in the hospitality area (e.g. selling "reasonable" hospitality packages sold to private individuals).

Sponsorship of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) becomes acceptable

Just a few years ago, the marketing use of social, research and education commitments was not well regarded in our society. Patron support was the rule, unlike in the UK and USA, where marketing support in the area of CSR has been accepted and appreciated for some time. In the meantime, this form of support has become increasingly popular and also promising. The companies commit themselves to sustainable projects and topics and thus cultivate this important part of corporate responsibility. Today, universities and NGOs are professional partners for sponsors. With constant budgets, this leads to a redistribution and thus to cuts for sports and culture.

Social media as an activation tool is booming

Sponsorship contents are emotional, contemporary and can usually be connected with perso­nalities (ambassadors, influencers or simply the event participants). These contents are parti­cularly suitable for activation via social media. All stakeholders rush to these contents and want to have a piece of the cake. This often leads to new conflicts between the indi­vi­dual athletes, their sponsors, the associations, and their sponsors. In content marketing, everyone wants to communicate with the emotional messages and stories of the prota­go­nists. This area of conflict is currently covered by very few sponsorship offers and contracts.

Financing problems due to high event density

The event density in Switzerland is probably uniquely high. And more and more events and new topics are being added (e.g. the booming eSports). With stagnant volumes in the sponsorship market (likely, according to the latest surveys) the distribution struggle will be intensified and some events and projects will probably disappear if they cannot find new sources of financing. One new source is crowdfunding, which is, however, more suitable for self-contained, one-off projects or for start-up financing. For sponsors, this means that the longer-term chances of survival of their sponsorship partner must also be examined before closing a partnership. The partner's dependence on a single sponsor should not be too pronounced.

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