Sponsorship can deliver brand activation heaven, but it may not be necessary | DMA

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Sponsorship can deliver brand activation heaven, but it may not be necessary

Sponsorship is the ultimate brand activation platform. I’m biased of course, but I’m 100% confident in this; but it needs to be approached with the right balance of research, insight, planning, stakeholder engagement, and that’s even before you go ‘live’.

Sponsorship does help brands achieve a utopian brand activation campaign, but all too often this is the preserve of major event partnerships which require millions of pounds of investment just to get started (Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions Leagueand European Championships).

But utopia isn’t necessarily the multi-channel, fully integrated activation we may dream of. Utopia is achieved when brands achieve and exceed their objectives.

Maybe this is the curse of the agency or the over-zealous brand manager who wants to make their mark, and run down the path of doing ‘everything’.

Great sponsorships, whether these be in sport, arts or music, do great things for the brand, its customers, and the property at large. Partnership is all.

It’s easy to comment on other brands’ sponsorships and be critical, especially when we rarely know the precise objectives or rationale, although we can make an educated guess.

The recent Taste of London festival brought this home with some big brand sponsors inBritish Airways, BMW, S.Pellegrino, Electrolux and Laurent Perrier. Their activations were on the whole fantastic experiential executions for those who attended the event, but what of those who couldn’t attend, or those who felt so positively about their experience and yet there was little or no opportunity presented for a follow-up. There was no doubt these sponsorships were multi-faceted providing opportunities to engage with key stakeholders and members of the public in different ways.

I was immediately struck by the contrast with how the big brands behaved around theLondon 2012 Olympics and Paralympics last year. Same city, same brands (British Airwaysand BMW), similar people and yet a world apart.

Gone was the social media enterprise, the immediacy of follow-up and technological wizardry, and back to the pen and paper forms to be filled out in the rain. Yes, I know, the two events are entirely different, but the customers aren’t, the brands aren’t, so I felt a bit short changed by two of my favourite brands.

So, it’s a cautionary tale for brands and marketers alike. Brands: remember what came before and remember your customers want continued excellence and progress from you; and marketers: remember brands don’t always need to deliver massive campaigns incorporating advertising, promotions, direct marketing, social media, digital, mobile, hospitality, branding, media partnerships, shopper campaigns all whilst using the latest technology to achieve success. Of course, how brands conduct themselves and engage their customers does say a great deal about them as a brand; and British Airways and BMW, I didn’t expect to win, but you are better than a pen and paper promotion in the rain.

By DMA guest blogger Rob Mitchell, DMA Brand Activation Council member

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