Sport sponsors need sensitivity

As the negotiator of Heineken’s so called 1m ITV rugby sponsorship deal, I was entirely underwhelmed by CIA Media Vision’s less than amazing revelations revealed exclusively in Marketing Week (February 5).

Apparently sports fans viewing is higher during games than prior to kick off, at half time or after the final whistle. And I always thought that they preferred advertising to the sport itself! Still, the solution proposed, that of interrupting live play, is bound to bring them round.

The interpretation of their very basic analysis (surely the data source was Barb, not Media Vision) entirely misses the point of sports sponsorship. Communication is through multiple exposures in every break in and around the programme and can really benefit if it is seen as adding to the viewing experience rather than merely interrupting it.

It is a subtle distinction that allows good broadcast sponsorship to rise above pure advertising or event sponsorship. Essentially the sponsorship should stay in harmony with the programme. Interrupting live play or missing a few minutes of post match euphoria could completely destroy this.

Clearly the price paid for sponsorship should be, and is, calculated on the audience delivered to the break bumpers. It would be naive not to consider competitive scheduling when estimating that audience. This is true for any form of TV advertising, there has never been a reason to regard sponsorship any differently.

What is different is how advertising messages are communicated. The sponsor’s very short credits sit close to the programme and rely on it to amplify their message. Conventional spot advertising benefits from a programme environment but also has more time and creative freedom to deliver a message. This difference means sponsors need to be far more sensitive to how viewers see the programme and the forced interruptions to it.

CIA Media Vision’s rather crude analysis seems to have missed many of these points

Andy Roberts

Buying Director

Motive Communications

London W1V

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