Matthew Osmon, commercial director of FIBA (world governing body for basketball), asks: Howdo sports properties need to improve their offering to sponsors such as Molson Coors?
Mark Hunter (MH): Over the past 20 years, rights owners have started to recognise the need for a commercial conversation. That has become more important in the past three to five years because investment in sports sponsorship has started to flatten off. My advice would be to continue the improvement where the rights owner looks at what it has got to sell through the eyes of the potential investor and recognises the true value of what it is trying to sell.
There have been examples during renegotiations where we have done a lot of work looking at media value and delivery. A number emerges [from the rights owner] and you learn there isn’t any substance behind that number. We have a successful relationship with the Football League and that is why the Carling Cup has been around so long and why we have just re-signed.
Paul Duncanson, managing director at Creative Brief and previously marketing director at Sony PlayStation software and Carlton Home Entertainment, asks: How do you feel Grolsch can maintain its premium position without considerable, continuing investment in advertising?
Chris McDonough (CM): We are doing a big piece of work on Grolsch to see how can it really occupy that premium space. You can’t build emotional equity unless you communicate, so it is important that we get the basics right on Grolsch. Once we’ve got it right we have to activate a positioning that connects consumers with what the brand stands for.
Raoul Pinnell, chairman of Strategic Investment Partners and non-executive director at Bexley NHS Care Trust, asks: Several countries have banned alcohol advertising. To what extenthas this led to a reduction in alcohol-related health problems?
MH: In France [where advertising alcohol is banned on TV and in the cinema] for example, there is a growing problem with teenage alcoholism, so I think people should question what does and doesn’t work.
Advertising is there to educate, inform, entertain and to persuade, so for people who are already consumers of alcohol it has a role. I don’t think we would be facing some of the challenges we have as a beer industry if advertising was having the effect that has been suggested.
CM: There is a danger that if you remove advertising, [alcohol] suddenly becomes an industry that is demonised and underground when it shouldn’t be.