Brand Sponsorship: is it worth it?

Brand Sponsorship is one of the fastest growing marketing forms in the US. Basically companies offer cash or in-kind fees in return for access to communicate to a potential market. Below are some great examples and ways to make the most of your sponsorship to make it worth it.

Brand Sponsorship is a Commitment

When you sponsor an event, team, or organization, you pay for the right to partner with them. It implies a stronger, deeper relationship with an ongoing commitment.

Heineken has long used brand sponsorship to engage customers, support its brand, and drive growth around the world. They sponsor sports like soccer and rugby, as well as the James Bond movie franchise. Hans Erik Tuijt, Heineken director of global sponsorships, says sponsoring enables Heineken to add to fan experiences in memorable and unique ways.

Heineken Brand Sponsorship

Heineken Brand Sponsorship: Heineken boomers at the Arc de Triomf in Barcelona for the 2011 Champions League final. Photo by Ben Sutherland

There are changes in how the beer industry uses brand sponsorship. Industry consolidation, changing consumer preferences, and the continued popularity of craft beer are driving the changes. Consumers increasingly expect multiple drink options. Single vendor partnerships are becoming a thing of the past.

One of Anheuser-Busch’s new strategies at music festivals is using push notifications to announce access to special performances, fast-pass lanes and other perks. These draw customers to their on-site locations. Pabst Brewing Co. sells PBR for $3 at festivals they sponsor. PBR national brand ambassador Matt Slessler says, “You won’t find another festival in the world with $3 beer!”

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Brand Sponsorships are Friendly Marketing

Brand sponsorship is a friendly form of marketing. It is a powerful, effective way to spread your message. You can promote your business directly to a target audience. When you sponsor an event or cause, people are going to like you. Additional benefits include:

  • Expanding your reach to specifically targeted niche markets. If your product complements the event, it’s the perfect way to reach and connect in a unique and interactive way.
  • Complementing your other marketing programs. Integrating the event into your social media will resonate with your target audience.
  • Dramatically influencing customer relations. Companies that show generosity and social responsibility are recognized as caring about their customers.

Brand Sponsorship Provide Positive Feedback

According to the Experiential Marketing Content Benchmarking Report, 72% consumers view brands that sponsor quality events positively. 74% say positive engagement with brands that create memorable moments are more likely to buy their products.

For Ford, brand sponsorship is an effective way of meeting two primary brand objectives. One is to reinforce and build the Ford brand. The other is to achieve a good connection between Ford and potential new customers. Through its association with the UEFA Champions League, Ford reaches target customers for nine months of every year. Research has shown that this sponsorship creates a positive view of Ford among football fans who watch regularly.

Brand Sponsorship is More Than Just a Logo

Today’s brand sponsorship is more than your logo on t-shirts and goody bags. It is no longer a passive process best left to event organizers.  There are many case studies to review for insights into effective brand sponsorship. The American Management Association (AMA) cites analysis by the Copernicus company. Copernicus analyzed a selection of nine sponsorships and events looking for effective strategies. This is what they came up with:

  1. Engaged fans. If there’s a high concentration of buyers involved with the type of event being sponsored, the sponsorship is more likely to succeed. Think motor oil and NASCAR.
  2. Substantial investment. If a company doesn’t invest at least as much on promoting the sponsorship as it does on the sponsorship itself, it will net little impact. Invest time and effort into the content you will share before, during and after the event
  3. Clear campaign message. The sponsorship must communicate a compelling message. If the fan base is engaged and the message resonates, incremental business will follow. A great example is Fidelity Investments’ sponsorship of Paul McCartney’s “Never Stop Doing What You Love” tour. Fidelity’s message: “Let us plan the next stage of your life.” By the end of the tour, Fidelity reportedly generated $100+ in new and incremental business.
  4. There is a clear link between product and sponsorship. If the connection seems far-fetched—like McDonald’s sponsoring the Olympics, effectiveness decreases. You should be able to describe the connection between your brand and the sponsorship in less than five seconds. Otherwise your target audience won’t get it either.
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Influencer Marketing

One of the easiest ways to expose your brand to potential customers is to get it into the hands of bloggers and influencers. Brand sponsorship of bloggers and influencers is cheap, fast and effective. Positive mentions and links in blogs come up high in searches. Having your brand mentioned in social media and blog posts seriously improves your search engine optimization results.

Here are some popular brand sponsorship options for influencers and bloggers:

  • Get your goods or services into the hands of influencers. If they love your brand, they will share positive feedback.
  • Sponsor a blog post. The blogger will talk about your brand in their own voice.
  • Work with an influencer to sponsor a giveaway. This builds excitement for your brand.

Finding the Right Sponsorships

When you’re ready, here are some guidelines for finding the right event or cause for brand sponsorship:

  • Look for partnerships with tie-ins to your ideal customers or a related, but new demographic.
  • Remember you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Brainstorm what you can contribute, which may be products, services, or even a venue.
  • Negotiate benefits for your business. What will benefit you most: an onsite presence, exclusive vendor rights, or lead generation?
  • Reach your audience with influencers to build awareness of your brand to build marketing potential.


Article by Cindy Solberg

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