Do ordinary, extraordinarily well: sponsorship in 2012.
Bournemouth University graced the sixth Mike Warne Annual Marketing Communications Lecture; covering the vibrant, challenging topic of successful sponsorship: leading the way in 2012. Students, staff and local and national media welcomed Jackie Fast, Managing Director of Slingshot Sponsorship and Jeff Dodds, Executive Marketing Director of Brand and Marketing Communications at Virgin Media. The evening juiced our brains, whilst the sponsors of the event Little Miracles quenched our thirst and tantalised our taste buds.
Jackie Fast kicked off the evening by delivery a ‘punchy’ and succinct presentation an agency’s perspective of sponsorship. Through humorous photographs Jackie transported the audience back to 2008 where our dear friend, the recession, came to visit. Although as we all know, the visit went from short to long-term overnight. The year 2008 saw a dramatic decrease in sponsorship, meaning businesses had to adapt.
The glass half full, half empty imagery was painted by Jackie. The change meant businesses had to change their marketing plans and generate new revenue streams with business synergy at the very heart. Businesses had to devote further time to competitor evaluations with their individual infrastructures and tactics. The big question that came from all of the renovating; what is sponsorship doing? What is the value of sponsorship for companies?
The dominoes fell down and subsequently saw one way communication dynamically adapt to the marketplace into two-way communication. Most companies may refer to this as ‘the social media bandwagon’ which we all must ride. Jackie supported this claim with sources proving the increase of users on social media websites and also the demographics changing over the past few years; witnessing the older generation using more social based sites.
So why sponsorship? Why is it so important?
Sponsorship as explained coherently by Jackie is rewarding. It involves engagement, brand experience, interactivity and ultimately fan loyalty can be achieved. The equation of sponsorship reads: logos + media vs. engagement. Not to anyone’s surprise, Jackie revealed sport is the fastest growing industry for sponsorship.
Jackie’s inspirational talk was complimented by fruitful examples of sponsorship. Here are two of them alongside simplified interesting facts (click links for further information):
- Month long campaign
- Relevant to young audience within popular culture
- Attracted on average 11 minutes per person
- 1.1 Billion media impressions
- BING were within top 10 visited websites
- 11.7% increase in traffic to BING
- Marketers focusing on second screen consumers
- 9 million users tuned into campaign
- On average people dwelled for approx. 28 minutes
Concluding her passionate talk, Jackie left the room with wise, inspirational lexis on sponsorship: it is not about logos, integration is key, be unique and above all engage and create relationships; social platforms are ideal.
“Open with a film, it does a better job” exclaims Jeff Dodds. The video fills the lecture theatre with pleasing audio and visuals of the wonderful works of Virgin Media. From V Festival to Britain’s Got Talent to comedy. Just “another day in the office” remarks Jeff in a jovial tone.
Jeff begins by inviting the audience into the corporate strategy at virgin Media. Four basic areas: mission, payload, boosters and thrusters. The mission statement has the customer at the forefront with the NPS (Net Promoter Score) being fundamental and core to Virgin Media’s ethos. The company want to know would you recommend. Advocacy is the cogs within Virgin.
WWRD? Can you guess what it is yet…(and no, nothing Rolf Harris related). What would Richard do? Three undeniably wise steps from Richard Branson reflect the company’s success in the current marketplace.
- Grow through advocacy
- Demonstration not declaration
- Virgin only joins the game to change the game
Jeff confidently explained the three-way architecture of sponsorship within Virgin Media. The first two, obvious avenues can be communications (telling) and advertising (showing). However, sponsorship manages to hit customers at a personal, experience level. In his words the Virgin Media consumer life.
Virgin Media’s use of sponsorship demonstrates clearly this level of personalisation. Sponsoring V Festival Virgin Media manages to encapsulate a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience for the festival goer. The customer experiences rich moments that incidentally create positive feeling towards the company. Only last week, V Festival came fourth on Google Insights emphasising Virgin Media’s strategies are literally buzzing.
Virgin Media’s current advertisement informs customers about the double speed Broadband coming soon, with the website link to confirm specific dates. Richard Branson and Olympic runner Bolt star in this humorous advertisement.
It has been highly successful for Virgin Media and is innovative. Innovative, live and now. In the first eight days one and a half million people typed their postcode into the website. This is a phenomenal result generated from a fun and appropriate form of advertising. The talent sponsorship in this example was beneficial for the company.
Jeff confidently announced Virgin Media’s sponsorship of Britain’s Got Talent in “the year of Britain”. The sponsorship will give stature to Virgin whilst also creating feelings of pride for customers, and also employees. Exclusively at Virgin Media, employees are seen as the first advocates. Therefore they are given special privileges, such as audience tickets for Britain’s Got Talent and a concert is provided with the finalists for staff. These experiences then promote conversations and encourage advocacy. This is a unique outlook which other companies should appreciate and possibly replicate, where appropriate.
Jeff’s talk was engaging, dynamic and informative; leaving most listeners wondering why on earth they were not currently working for Virgin Media; a forward thinking and innovative, strategic company.
A half an hour question and answer allowed audience members to quiz the panel; joined also by Dr Yue Meng. Questions were also submitted via the Twitter hashtag #CIM12. The final question left marketing hopefuls on a prosperous, high note. Sponsorship is a brilliant, explorative avenue offering companies “better things” structured by “engagement” in an “instant” fast paced world. The panel all agreed that there are many areas that remain untapped, such as the arts, which could potentially suit and benefit some companies. Jeff Dodds left the room tingling with enthusiasm and expert knowledge, sponsorship is not worried about saturation, but “attribution, this is the most difficult aspect.”
In reflection, we should all walk away, pause our TIVO and ponder, WWRD?