In Rick Burton and Norm O’Reilly’s Sports Business Journal article, “Understanding why sponsorship continues to grow,” (SBJ Jan 24 – 30, page 20), they clearly detail why sponsorship works for corporations as a brand marketing and business growth tactic. From the ability to “touch” and engage consumers for the positioning of a brand, the ability to leverage another’s Intellectual Property for associative qualities or creation of “branded entertainment,”
The recent announcement of Castrol’s sponsorship of the NFL clearly points to the growth Burton and O’Reilly predict: Castrol, a synthetic motor oil brand under parent company BP, will receive media avails across the NFL’s varied platforms, along with rights to the NFL’s I/P. This enables strong brand positioning and effective promotion, a much needed effort for a BP owned subsidiary, considering their recent troubles in the Gulf of Mexico.
Next, like most sports sponsorships, the Castrol NFL sponsorship will most likely also include hospitality and client entertainment opportunities for Castrol to entertain its customers at select NFL events.
Beyond the use of rights or general media inventory, it’s the effective and efficient use of the assets afforded to Castrol via the NFL sponsorship, commonly referred to as the “activation of the benefits of a sponsorship”
Challenge number two is knowing which tickets or hospitality packages were used, and by whom, for measurement of the sponsorship:
If one of the uses of a sports sponsorship is corporate hospitality for building business relationships while attending key events such as the Super Bowl, Daytona 500, The Masters, the U.S. Open (tennis or golf!), or the NBA All-Star Game, it’s imperative that the sponsor have controls and processes to ensure that the tickets and hospitality opportunities are used appropriately and for business reasons, and not just given out, simply because the tickets were available. Only with such monitors in place, can a true measure of the return on investment be found.
For example, FedEx uses an internal system to publicize the availability of tickets to the NASCAR races it’s involved with. This way, FedEx can properly manage and monitor its ticket inventory, while handling the requests – and approvals – ensuring that all available tickets are used appropriately.
Jim Daigle, President of Sports Systems, an online technology provider specializing in simplifying, streamlining and improving event activation, built the customized web-based ticket monitoring system for FedEx. Sports Systems understands that clients greatly value the tickets made available to them via their sponsorships, along with giving clients greater control of the overall asset management process. “Just who is allocating tickets in companies and what are the criteria for receiving them?” he quips. “That’s how we provide great value.”
Regardless of the business category or sport a brand may sponsor, Jim and his team at Sports Systems are able to help. Jim points to another client, Motorola, to support the point: Sports Systems has built a secure internal web-based system for Motorola’s NFL sponsorship that solicits input from the sales force on desired assets for the upcoming season and then, upon securing assets, provides a streamlined method for requesting those assets and event includes the ability to invite guests to the NFL games. In all, the benefits of Motorola’s NFL sponsorship are shared with internal constituents, yet housed in a manner that’s easily monitored.
The Sports Systems media kit further illustrates the point: “Sports Systems has officially saved my sanity,” shares Jenny Grant, a marketing executive with RBC Bank, as she’s quoted within the media kit. “We have thousands of tickets a year to manage, track and distribute, which can get very cumbersome. We have budgets to maintain and audit requirements, all while trying to maximize our investments. Before Sports Systems, this entire process was done manually, which left a lot of room for human error and was extremely time and labor intensive. After Sports Systems, we have everything housed in one centralized location.”
Next, Grant points to the ability to see how tickets and hospitality serve to bring business growth proving a hospitality events’ ROI, sharing that Sports Systems’ “reporting capabilities allowed us to follow up and track business gained.” Of course, all the while, Grant sees the day-to-day benefit as Sports Systems helps RBC “keep an accurate, up-to-date inventory on tickets available, tickets requested and tickets used.”
In addition to FedEx and RBC, top sports marketing agencies turn to Sports Systems to serve as an “out-sourced IT department.”
In Burton and O’Reilly’s SBJ article, they point to the use of sponsorship, and its impending increase in use in North America, saying that sponsorship will see growth by a compounded annual growth rate of 5% in 2012 and 5.6% in 2013. Recognizing that using a sports sponsorship is a significant investment, having systems in place to ensure the proper activation, and use of the perishable inventory made available by the sponsorship, shouldn’t be ignored.