Corporate sponsorship has become an essential part of 21st century life. This relatively new below-the-line form of advertising has grown significantly more quickly than traditional methods since the late 1990s to become a fundamental part of many companies’ communication plans. Last weekend I completed Tough Mudder as part of Team Centrebet, which changed my own and many others’ perceptions of the brand for the better.
Do it properly: be relevant, and track your results
Sponsorship is about relevance, not just visibility – there needs to be a good match. With their new slogan “Fire up!!” and an affiliation with sports and recreational pursuits, Centrebet was a great fit for our team in the physically and mentally gruelling 21km obstacle course. Brands should add to the experience of an event. In our case, they provided gear and uniforms, transport and an after party – and we demonstrated commitment and camaraderie in our group from all different walks of life.
Furthermore, sponsorship is measurable, and should be monitored. Promotional sponsorship can be tracked through client and media coverage, and CSR-driven sponsorship through the long-term benefits achieved for your chosen cause or event.
The benefits of sponsorship: differentiation, approval and engagement
At its simplest, sponsorship is way of differentiating your company from the competition through the selection of an event, project or cause. It can be particularly effective after a rebrand or repositioning of a brand. This choice should not be taken lightly, as explicit target audience approval is necessary for optimal cut through. Ideally, you want to leverage emotional involvement with the brand through the sponsorship: an indicator of connection and determinant of brand loyalty. People on the sidelines were cheering for our team as we faced our fears and physically supported each other through the course.
Once relationships are established with a brand, they should be actively nurtured to make strong and consistent progress towards your brand objectives. A brand has to earn respect and brand loyalty. People aren’t going to love you for your logo on a banner: they need to experience your brand first hand.
PS Just to be clear, this is not a sponsored post but it makes a convenient, and current, case study.