Summit gets measure of returns from sponsorship

Research is becoming an increasingly important tool to prove the value of sponsorship in an economic environment where investment is coming under greater scrutiny, according to sponsorship professionals.

A panel discussion about demonstrating sponsorship’s worth at the recent Marketing Week Sponsorship Summit saw both marketers and rights holders agree that there is a greater need to measure effectiveness.

Patrick Wendt, marketing manager at Toyota Racing F1, said that research is increasingly being discussed in negotiations with existing partners, while the sport’s top teams are currently discussing what research is necessary collectively for the first time.

Naomi Conway, head of development at the National Portrait Gallery, added that there was a greater need to provide “hard and fast evidence” and she recently saw an arts sponsorship contract with a return on investment (ROI) clause written in, the first she had seen in the arts.

Tanya Veingard, head of sponsorship at Aviva UK, which sponsors UK Athletics, said that investment is necessary to evaluate the success of sponsorship even in a recessionary environment.

However, in a different session at the conference, Coca-Cola marketer Jonathan Ford warned that sponsorship was not about satisfying the “bean counters” with ROI calculations but about engagement.

Ford, who is European sponsorship manager for the soft drinks giant, said that he did not believe in ROI calculations for sponsorships. “Measurement is fundamentally flawed,” he said, adding that although there is a need to measure certain things, sponsorship is about engagement with customers and putting legacies in place through long-term associations. He pointed to the soft drinks company’s long-standing partnership with the Olympic Games as an example.

“It is not a matter that you can’t measure effectiveness, but you can’t sum that together in one ROI number that the bean counters ask for,” said Ford.

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