#Synergy30: Patrick Nally on the Future Of Sponsorship

Foreword by Tim Crow, CEO Synergy 

2014 marks Synergy’s 30th year in business. No small achievement, and we’re very proud to have played our part in the transformation of the sports and entertainment marketing industry in that time, and, above all, to have worked with so many amazing people and organisations. To all of you, but in particular to our people and our clients past and present, we thank you and salute you!

Naturally, we wanted to do something to celebrate and to share #Synergy30 (of course, there’s a hashtag), but rather than looking back, true to the innovation that has defined us throughout our 30 years, we’re going to look forward at the future of sports and entertainment marketing. And so, throughout 2014, we’ll be bringing you specially-created and timely piece of content on that theme, some made by us, some made by friends of the company.

So, to get #Synergy30 started, who better than the legendary Patrick Nally, the man who back in the 1970s created the sponsorship model for global events, to consider the future of sponsorship. And, in a thoughtful and hard-hitting piece, to preserve and enrich the salience of sponsorship, he calls for radical and total re-think of the global sporting ecosystem that his sponsorship model did so much to create.

Enjoy, and please feel free to comment below and share on the social network of your choice, using #Synergy30. Over to Patrick…

Patrick Nally

There is a grave danger that unless we respond to the changed social landscape, sponsorship will be questioned, challenged and threatened with radical decline. Brazil, the host of both the next World Cup and Olympics, is facing a social uprising challenging why the Government is funding mega events and not social investment, creating a questionable sponsorship environment. And every major event, Sochi 2014 being the latest, also sees questions raised about the involvement and influence of sponsors, with certain categories as lightning rods.

When I started West Nally my focus was on using sport as a communication medium. It had to change when I was asked to find a commercial solution to fund the emerging International Sports Federations. The key to the West Nally approach was to create a deliverable package of sponsorship rights to be sold exclusively to global partners in non-competing business and commercial categories. It demanded a fresh mindset from governing bodies and event hosts, who had previously struggled to manage commercial activities. West Nally went on to work with most of the world’s major governing bodies including FIFA, the IOC, IAAF, IFB, and ITF, and the programmes West Nally developed in the 1970s effectively became the blueprint for sports sponsorship and remain so today.

Coca-Cola became the first official sponsor of the FIFA World Cup at the 1978 tournament in Argentina.

It’s difficult to understand why our approach has lasted so long, especially when ‘the package’ was not designed to meet the sponsor’s objectives, but to maximize the rightsholder’s revenue. It is also difficult to comprehend that those very organisations have never seriously debated this old approach, concentrating on renewing and extending their existing contracts for as long, and for as much, as they could.

In many respects the world is almost unrecognisable to that of the 1970s when West Nally was launched. It has been transformed by technology, by the emergence of new economies and of vibrant nations with a desire to play a major and responsible role on the world stage. It is a world of fantastic opportunity but also of major challenges, including concerns about the health of a generation of less active young people. But one thing which has not changed is the world’s passion for sport which, thanks to developments in media, is now more universally available than ever before. Sport is a significant and positive force in business and in society, but we have to accept that as the world has changed, that the established ways of doing things may no longer be appropriate or effective.

If we want the sports marketing industry to continue to grow, it needs to be directly involved in the debate and examination of the relationships between sports and the worlds of commerce, education, technology, governments and politics and society in general. It is essential that a new roadmap be produced with fresh guidance for all stakeholders. It is important that the Industry encourages International Federations to accept that the resources and expertise of the Industry, as well as leading commercial organisations (sponsors), National Governments, Universities, Academics, media and content conglomerates, should combine to positively review a new approach.

Many of the models for the governance of sport, its relationship with sponsors and the world of business, for bidding for and hosting major events, and sport’s role in education and society in general, were established many years ago and need to be tested and re-evaluated against the realities of a world which has been shrunk by technology, but which continues to create new social challenges.

Sports Ministers from more than 130 countries recently issued The Berlin Declaration, which publicly underscored their joint determination to ensure that sport is accessible to all as a matter of right, to promote public investment in physical education, and to review the whole approach to the hosting of Mega Events. To do that, we have to understand exactly how sport fits into our 21st century world and to develop themes and specific strategies to ensure it remains positive, relevant and engaging to all stakeholders – especially to sponsors.

The new roadmap needs to redefine the relationship between sport and commercial partners, to maximise the role and benefit of sport at every level of education. To explore the beneficial relationship between sport and technology. To identify new and more relevant forms of best practice in the governance of sport. To consider the rationale for hosting major sports events and the expectations of governing bodies. To consider the relationship between sport and all elements of traditional and social media. To consider the legal status of sport, its events and athletes and the relevance and effectiveness of existing procedures. To measure, record and address the attitudes of young people to sport. To assess the changing value of sport as a medium and entertainment property alongside other cultural and artistic activities.

A challenging, but essential task.

Patrick Nally, January 2014.

Picture credit: AFP/Getty

About Patrick Nally

Patrick Nally is widely acknowledged as the ‘founding father’ of modern sports marketing.

With BBC presenter and sports commentator Peter West, Patrick founded the West Nally Group in 1969 as a public relations agency with a specialized sporting events mandate. With West as chairman and managing director Nally its driving force, the company would go on to redefine the sports business by pioneering the offering to blue chip companies of exclusive, off-the-shelf packages of sponsorship rights to the world’s largest sports tournaments on behalf of the world’s leading sports federations.

In 1976, on brokering an agreement to sponsor the FIFA World Cup, the company assured its reputation as a leading innovator within the expanding sports marketing field. Employing over 400 staff in 14 offices across 11 countries in its heyday in the 1980s and 1990s, West Nally has served as partner to, among others, the IOC, FIFA, UEFA, the Davis Cup and Federation Cup in tennis, the Hockey World Cup, the International Swimming Federation (FINA), the International Rowing Federation (FISA), the International Cycling Union (UCI), the International Association of Athletics Federations, and the FIS World Ski Cup.

Still very much involved with the development of major sports, in 2009 Nally took up the lead in promoting poker as a mind sport on a global stage. As the current President of the International Federation of Poker (IFP), founded in Lausanne, Switzerland, home of the Olympic movement and most other sports federations, it is his intention to champion poker as a game of strategic skill, alongside chess, bridge, draughts and Go. With more than 50 member nations, IFP promotes the game through its unique Match Poker format, which eliminates the luck of draw and utilises smartphones instead of physical cards. While the size and scope of IFP keeps expanding, the goal remains the same: to promote the educational, social and respectable values of poker as a mind sport.

For some years, Patrick has also been working with the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to assist in establishing relationships with international sport federations and explore ways of using sport as a portal for education. Patrick is a lecturer and touring fellow of the World Academy of Sport and a past Academic Director of the IE Business School in Madrid’s Master in Sports Management teaching the use of sport as the ultimate communications medium.

By on January 31st, 2014

Tags: Default, Rio 2016 Sponsorship, Rio 2016 Sponsorship Consultants, Sochi 2014, Sponsorship consultancy, Sponsorship consultants, Synopsis, World Cup Sponsorship, World Cup Sponsorship Consultants

One response to “#Synergy30: Patrick Nally on the Future Of Sponsorship”

  1. Tom Gladstone said at January 31st, 2014 3:09 pm

    Well said Mr Nally. Rightsholders take note.

    The starting point for conversing with brands is not a rights package. It is how the goals of two (or more) organisations converge, how they can create mutually beneficial outcomes.

    The ingrained ‘rights package’-led approach in sport is put to shame by collaborative partnerships in other spheres of entertainment such as fashion and music.

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