November 21, 2019

by Nicola Niesl - Associate Director Global Connect Centre / Kantar

My immediate association with the term “sponsorship” is Bayern München (my home town’s football club) running onto the field of the Allianz Arena, with the logos of their main sponsors Deutsche Telekom and Adidas prominently displayed on their uniforms. An image that triggers emotions: excitement before the game, tension before a goal, joy after winning – and I’m not even a football fan, so how must this feel for a real enthusiast?

The ability to evoke emotions is certainly one of the reasons why investment into sponsorship is growing globally, by 4.9 percent in 2018. Kantar’s touchpoint database reveals that whenever brands purposefully build their touchpoint strategy around the sponsorship, it can be even more impactful than all traditional media channels combined – and it tends to come with more acceptance, since consumers often consider sponsoring as less annoying and more trustworthy than classical advertising.

Sponsorship exists across a spectrum, covering global events like the Olympic games as well as regional tournaments, music festivals, TV shows, good cause sponsorships, etc. Currently, esports sponsoring is one of the biggest bets, for example with Swisscom having started its own league. Independent from the actual activity, we have identified 4 success factors from various studies:

  •     Find an appropriate partner, supporting your desired brand image: Our client, an automotive brand, investigated their own brand image and compared it with the image of possible sponsorship activities, to find the perfect fit.As a result, they decided against sponsoring music events, but in favour of supporting local and national sports teams.
  •     Define a clear target and match your target’s interests: The co-creation of Suzuki and “The All Star Driving School” series in the UK is a great example: with this TV show about celebrities’ trials of learning to drive, Suzuki managed to attract young women – a target that’s usually hard to engage for car brands.
  •     Balance popularity, cost and visibility: the more popular an event, the more brands it attracts – which increases the cost of sponsorship, while individual brands are potentially less visible. This phenomenon can be called the ‘sponsorship paradox’. A touchpoint ROI analysis for a banking client suggested a budget shift from elite winter sports events towards recreational sports, which yielded more impact for lower costs.
  •     Sponsorship is a long-term game: Sponsorship has the potential to create almost unforgettable memories, if it’s consistent over time. Unlike other forms of advertising, many sponsors reside in consumers' memories for years, sometimes long after the contract ended. This can be hurdle for new sponsors, which have to fight against historical associations.

In the end, it’s crucial to mention that a sponsorship is not done by signing a contract with a partner. Activation is an equally important part and a critical amount on top of the sponsoring fee is required to reap its benefits. Plus, the activation should ideally follow an integrated marketing plan covering all different types of communication channels.

It’s therefore fair to say that sponsorship has the potential to be much more than just another touchpoint: cleverly planned, it can work as a connecting point delivering a common message for various channels, forming an integrated touchpoint network.


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