Whilst sponsorship is one of the fastest growing tools in the armoury of a CMO’s marketing mix there is no doubt that the ability to leverage it effectively is complex. By this, I mean it can serve so many different purposes for a business that it needs a clear and coherent approach in order to meet the differing needs across a business. It is not complicated but to leverage it successfully it needs greater consideration than a simple advertising buy from a media perspective. It is complex but not complicated.
So how do we manage this complexity? It sounds obvious but it all comes down to clear objectives. These need to be considered carefully across all business function stakeholders in order for rights, resources and activation budget to be effectively applied. ‘EASY!’ I hear you say but I cannot tell you how many times the first fundamental stage is missed, either in part or full.
Let me explain by way of an example with an automotive manufacturer, a business in which I have first-hand experience.
At Jaguar Land Rover we had a sponsorship portfolio that was curated to meet the differing marketing, sales and corporate needs of the business. Some partnerships were able to address the needs of almost all areas of the business while some worked harder for specific business functions than others.
Let’s look back at Land Rover’s involvement in Rugby World Cup 2015, the pinnacle global property for the brand which has long had a presence in rugby union:
Business Function: Brand Marketing
Need: Provide credibility and content to support Land Rover’s ‘Above and Beyond’ brand positioning
Approach: Create a brand campaign leveraging association with Rugby World Cup showcasing grassroots rugby around the world. It was called – ‘We Deal In Real’
Digital and Social channel content
Business Function: Product Marketing
Need: Provide a platform to showcase Land Rover’s new products to a relevant audience
Approach: Ensure Land Rover is the car associated with the tournament across all touchpoints.
Operations and activation fleet functioning throughout the tournament supporting teams, operations and activations.
Business Function: Dealer Marketing
Need: Provide hospitality opportunities and relevant touch points across the dealer network
Approach: Provide pass through rights, IP and broader rugby assets to dealers.
Dealer RWC toolkits for content, POS and merchandise
Pairing up of dealers with local grassroots rugby clubs
Business Function: PR
Need: Secure BTL cut-through of Land Rover brand and product
Approach: Leverage of rights and assets to create large stunts to drive media interest
Bespoke RWC 2015 Land Rover reveal on the Thames
Surprise grassroots rugby event with ambassadors for We Deal In Real campaign launch
Trophy Tour moments.
Business Function: Design
Need: Showcase Land Rover’s design credentials
Approach: Create a unique sculpture that resonates with fans at stadia
‘The Catch’ sculpture designed by Land Rover Design Director, Gerry McGovern, acting as a meeting point at Twickenham and Millennium stadiums.
Business Function: Engineering
Need: Showcase Land Rover’s engineering credentials
Approach: Create a Land Rover product that adds value to fans’ experiences around Rugby World Cup
The creation of a bespoke RWC 2015 Defender engineered by Special Vehicle Operations with viewing cabinet for the trophy.
Business Function: Internal Engagement
Need: Engage and galvanise the Jaguar Land Rover workforce
Approach: Make Rugby World Cup assets available to JLR employees
Integration to the Trophy Tour
Regular RWC internal communications.
Business Function: Local markets activation
Need: Engage Land Rover markets beyond the UK
Approach: Create activation toolkits, pass through rights and integration of overseas activities
Activation toolkits including RWC IP, campaign advertising and communications assets.
Recruitment of international mascots
Integration of RWC International Trophy Tour
Whilst a high profile global property such as the Rugby World Cup is appealing and relevant enough to be leveraged across an entire business, smaller sponsorship properties often work harder for different business functions. In the case of Jaguar Land Rover we worked hard to ensure we had a balanced portfolio of sponsorship properties that delivered for specific marketing needs and business functions.
For example other sponsorship properties supported our needs in more specific ways:
Land Rover BAR
Land Rover’s America’s Cup partnership with Ben Ainslie Racing was intended to drive communications that would enhance the brand’s technology and innovation credentials. The integration of the design and engineering functions into the project provided proof points for Jaguar Land Rover’s expertise in this area. In addition to this the Land Rover BAR America’s Cup team was also utilised to launch the All New Land Rover Discovery in an innovative and unique way whilst carrying the association throughout a fully integrated communications campaign.
Land Rover Extreme Sailing Series
Land Rover’s title partnership with the Extreme Sailing Series provided tangible activation opportunities on the ground in key markets allowing the brand to reach a new but highly relevant audience. Experiential activity including test drives, product launches and sailing experiences assisted markets in engaging their target customers in a unique way.
Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials
Land Rover’s involvement in equestrian sport, partnering with the likes of the World Equestrian Games and Burghley Horse Trials, has been successful in showcasing product relevance to a key target audience and credibly demonstrating the extraordinary capability of Land Rover’s vehicles.
Hopefully the examples above have demonstrated the broad range of ways in which sponsorship can be leveraged but also the differing objectives apparent from a variety of stakeholders all of whom will need programmes tailored to their needs and have their own measures of success.
The setting of objectives and clear success indicators within the key business functions from the outset is critical to ensuring you secure the appropriate rights, budget and resources required to leverage the opportunity effectively. Poor planning and inadequate support can derail all your sponsorship efforts.
Should you need any help in leveraging your sponsorships effectively throughout your business or across your international markets, please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org
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