May I contribute one further comment to the ongoing debate in Marketing Week concerning sponsors receiving value for money.
Mike Fynn’s (head of sponsorship at Bass Brewers) comments regarding sponsorship’s legitimacy and role as a quantifiably effective marketing tool were refreshing and, unfortunately among marketers, all too rare (MW March 14).
As Bass’ reinvestment in football demonstrates, while awareness is important it is not the only measure of sponsorship’s potential to deliver. If constructed creatively and managed professionally, sponsorship programmes can provide a real return on investment.
When sponsorship is used as the central platform to create partnerships among all parties – including retailers, media, distributors, the salesforce, co-sponsors and, perhaps most importantly of all, consumers – it becomes an extremely powerful driving force behind sales. This being the case, it is far easier to measure it in terms of return on investment.
Within this model, brand association is geared to the quality of the partnership rather than the amount of exposure. It is certainly our experience that sponsorship’s indirect approach carries less risk of alienating increasingly advertising-aware consumers. It presents many more opportunities for direct interaction with the target market – sales, sampling, merchandising and message delivery.
Furthermore, not only can you check pre- and post-campaign awareness and shifts in consumers’ perceptions of a brand’s image, but increasingly revenues from product and merchandising sales that are directly attributable to a sponsorship can be examined against the money invested.
Finally, our belief in such an approach has recently been substantiated by consumers through a research report we recently published, Sponsorship: into the Millennium. It provides a surprising insight into consumers’ and marketers’ attitudes to sponsorship.
While it would be unfair to say that consumers are more commercially aware of sponsorship’s role (indeed, willingly influenced by it), the results of our research have confirmed our (and indeed our clients) belief that the discipline really is capable of building brands, and changing attitudes.