Archive for the ‘Sponsorship consultancy’ category

Should Sponsors Resist Contractual Activation Guarantees?

In modern sponsorship, success is most frequently characterised as being about win-win partnerships, where both sponsor and rights holder benefit from the shared value created – in other words, the synergies – by activation at scale. When this happens in the UK, it’s usually the result of the sponsor delivering on a generally non-contractual commitment to activate.

However, at Synergy, we work on sponsorship contracts with rights holders around the world, and it’s not uncommon to see contractual activation guarantees, particularly in the US. These can take several forms, including guaranteed activation spends, ‘activation pots’ (where the brand can choose from a menu of items provided by the rights holder) and/or  activation commitments, such as leveraging on-pack to a minimum scale or dictating mandatory markets to activate within.

There is further complexity when rights holders dictate the channels that sponsors must use as part of their media buy. This typically takes the form of minimum media spend with the official broadcast partner, as part of a wider deal between the broadcaster and the rights holder. And in the latest potential evolution, the NBA is exploring mandating jersey sponsors, as part of any deals brokered in the future, to spending guarantees with its broadcast partners Turner and ESPN. Although terms of this are still very much under consideration, it is in response to fears from the broadcasters that brands with jersey sponsorships won’t need to buy as much of their media.  Of course it is not directly comparable, but imagine if Chevrolet, Emirates, Standard Chartered or Samsung were contractually obliged to buy a minimum number of commercial spots on Sky as part of their Premier League shirt sponsorship deals.

We are now beginning to see more and more of these type of clauses creep into contracts in the UK. So, what are the benefits and disadvantages to rights holder and sponsor?

It is easy to see the benefit to rights holders of being contractually guaranteed an active sponsor, who will take on the financial burden of promoting the asset, thereby increasing its visibility and value.

Contractual terms also protect rights holders at the end of longer deals, when it is not unusual for sponsors’ interest in activation to wane.

It is less easy to see the wins from the sponsors’ perspective. By being forced down certain paths, sponsors have less choice and flexibility on how they activate their sponsorship.

A minimum spend in itself could also be construed as counterproductive, as spend levels are not necessarily a proxy for reach or efficiency of messaging. Digital and Social in particular, can be highly targeted, with less wastage than channels such as Out of Home or TV, and are generally considered to be more cost efficient. If activated smartly, sponsorships can be leveraged on a tight budget.

Dictating a minimum spend in broadcast can also limit a brand’s ability to activate creatively across other channels, with budget tied up in costly media buys. It can also be strongly argued that brands know their own audiences and how to interact with them better than anyone, so are best placed to select their media strategy.

As Tim Crow suggested recently in his blog on the IOC’s Agenda 2020, imposing geographical obligations is equally unpalatable for sponsors. The IOC is contemplating this to stimulate local activation by TOPs, and whilst National Organising Committees naturally want to see these global brands activate at scale in their territories, sponsors have their business priorities across the globe, which demand the focus of their marketing budgets.

In truth, it is a very fine line between ensuring that partners are, and remain, active and simply trusting them to activate effectively. Rights holders will argue that they are simply safeguarding themselves against being used as a media buy, with little incremental benefit to themselves. The balance needs to be found where clauses are included with contracts to ensure that this doesn’t unduly restrict sponsors’ freedom of choice.


By on January 15th, 2015

Tags: Advertising, Barclays Premier League, Basketball, Brand marketing, Football Sponsorship, Innovation, IOC, Manchester United, Olympic sponsorship, Olympic sponsorship consultants, Sponsorship, Sponsorship Activation, Sponsorship consultancy, Sponsorship consultants, Synergy

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The Portfolio Puzzle

As tennis’ top 8 prepare to close out the year at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in November, Djokovic, Nadal and the like will almost certainly review what went well (and what didn’t) in 2014. Some training sessions will be tweaked, others trashed. Either way, you can guarantee each player understands his portfolio of shots and how he’ll deploy them next year.

Can the same be said for brands and their sponsorship portfolios?

More often than not, no. Sponsorship resource allocation is often an ad-hoc process, and the perfect portfolio remains elusive. This is not surprising. The universe of assets to choose from – puzzle pieces to join together and realize a sponsorship strategy – is overwhelmingly large. Furthermore, different contracts expire at different times – the puzzle pieces are constantly moving. Achieving the perfect portfolio is tough, pinning it down is near impossible.

So what can we do? I’d recommend a portfolio review.

One example of a company who has conducted a sponsorship review is Barclays. In December 2013, the bank assessed whether its asset portfolio – which includes the Barclays Premier League, Barclays ATP World Finals, and the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme in London – was delivering on its sponsorship strategy. And clearly, it’s driving some big decisions.

In May 2014, the BBC reported that Barclays will not renew their £40m-a-year deal with the Premier League in 2016. Furthermore, Barclays has passed up the opportunity to extend its £5.5m-a-year sponsorship of the London Cycle Hire Scheme in 2015.

So, how might Barclays have gone about their strategic review? Well, we’d hope it went something like this:

1. Set objective, value-based criteria

2. Evaluate assets against this criteria

3. Decide which assets to retain vs. replace accordingly

It follows that sound criteria and evaluation are a pre-requisite to sound decisions. But what does this mean in practice, and how is it applied?

First, decision criteria must be set. These should be both qualitative (e.g. fit with brand values) and quantitative (e.g. maximum annual rights and activation cost we are willing to pay, minimum return on investment). Either way, decisions must be grounded in value.

Second, all assets should be evaluated and compared across chosen criteria. The hypothetical example below demonstrates what this might look like:

Figure 1. Example Portfolio Decision Process

Under such hypothetical criteria, Assets 2 and 5 do not make the cut. Deciding to drop them from the portfolio would mean Brand Y management can search out more attractive property across the sponsorship landscape.

Just as tennis’ top 8 review their game and adjust their portfolio of shots year-in year-out, deciding where to allocate sponsorship resources should be an annual process. And just as these players need to work harder to improve, the better they get, brands must put more effort into solving the portfolio puzzle.

The message for brands – put portfolio on the agenda for 2015.

By on October 27th, 2014

Tags: Barclays Premier League, Measurement, Sponsorship, Sponsorship asset valuation, Sponsorship consultancy, Sponsorship measurement, Sponsorship valuation

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Great Expectations: The Importance of Experiential Activation and Holistic Brand Campaigns

I was sitting in a half-empty cinema when an attendant called out “Is anyone here from Heineken?”, which was met only by silence and the shaking of heads. “No, nobody?… They should have an attendee list” he tailed off, and left the room. Beside me sat the friend who had invited me after winning two tickets to a preview screening of Northern Soul courtesy of Heineken’s Open Your City Campaign. As she munched on a random, but delicious, brand of popcorn that had been placed on each chair, the screen crackled into action and an amusing ad played in which a man experienced a whole range of brilliant activities delivered exclusively to him by Heineken.

The ad went on for two minutes, then the film started. And that was my brand experience done and dusted. My cup holder stood empty, bereft of even one bottle of Heineken, and I looked around enviously at those who had had the foresight to buy a Stella Artois from the cinema bar.

Before you call me ungrateful, I know I got a free night out, but – albeit speaking as a selfish Millennial with high expectations – is that really enough? A complimentary cinema ticket is lovely, but it is not a brand experience per se. In fact, a free beer was the least of my expectations. Maybe it is because I have been spoilt in the past by being at some great events – such as a pub quiz run by Converse last year (about which I blogged enthusiastically at the time) and a Williams Martini Racing event run by the team here at Synergy, where fans had the chance to play table football during the FIFA World Cup with F1 drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. However, the fundamental reason was that, this being my first real exposure to the campaign – as mentioned, my friend won the tickets not I - we both left the cinema wondering why Heineken had actually done the activity.


Naturally curious, as someone who works in marketing would be, on my return home I looked up the Open Your City campaign online and re-ran the ad. Strategically, the idea of Heineken being the hero through which you discover varied experiences in your home city is a brilliant one. Both the website and content are incredibly slick, and the six-month media partnership with the Metro, promoting the campaign in London, is smart.

In short, I know why my friend and all those in the cinema with us were drawn to apply. But if a campaign fails to apply the same level of quality to all aspects of activity, it is an opportunity lost. Arguably the experiential moment is the most important part here, as it is the climax of the brand engagement. Moreover, as these consumers are actually interacting face to face with the brand and its values, they must be treated as VIPs; they are, after all, the people who will share, both on and offline, their experiences with their social communities.

We should never underplay the importance of word of mouth. Only yesterday I chatted to two colleagues who had a spot of lunch at Virgin Media’s TV Diner, a one-day only pop-up restaurant where celebrity chef Neil Rankin was creating dishes inspired by cult classics – including Pulp Fiction’s Big Kahuna Burger – to demonstrate Virgin Media’s huge entertainment library. In this case my colleagues had made the effort to book a ticket for this brand experience and thus expectations were high. Half a glass of cola and some (admittedly delicious) food later, however, they left not feeling any more affinity to the Virgin brand.

There was, for example, no explanation of why the pop-up existed, no encouragement to engage with the event socially, and criminally, no cult classics playing on TV screens to add some much needed atmosphere, not to mention product placement. In fact, the activity felt like a PR stunt in which they were nothing more than the photographer’s props – a sense reinforced by the lack of pre-promotion for the event, which was another missed opportunity. Clearly, at this pop-up more could have been done to truly enhance the consumer impression of the brand; something we have stressed is vitally important in previous Synergy blogs.

It is vital to approach integrated brand campaigns through an holistic lens; however, both of these case studies appear to have been led unequally by different disciplines. A media and TV perspective seems to be leading Heineken’s Open Your City, whilst the Virgin Media Diner was led by PR. A bias towards particular angles can cause other equally, if not more important elements (such as the consumer experiential experience) not to be exploited to their full potential.

A great campaign is the sum of its parts – if one cog isn’t quite right, the narrative machine will falter. At Synergy, and in the wider world of sponsorship, we take a media neutral approach, the emphasis being to focus a campaign around a core passion point which must be enhanced through all touchpoints of our brand activation.

I must stress that this blog has been based on two very personal experiences and perhaps these are isolated examples – since my trip to the cinema I’ve seen some Heineken Open Your City events that look truly engaging and, maybe, better reflect the expectations set by the ATL campaign. I am a marketing geek though – I enjoy delving into these things and evaluating them objectively.

But we must not assume everyone is the same, why would they be? A few minutes of a bad or disappointing experience can taint our otherwise positive views of a brand. Campaigns must provide a consistent level of experience and be truly holistic, otherwise opportunities to truly engage consumers may be lost and people may go home disappointed.

I was certainly left thirsty for something more.

By on October 16th, 2014

Tags: Alcohol, Brand marketing, Branded content, Consultancy, Default, Event management consultants, Event management service, Experiential marketing, Formula 1, PR, Public relations, Sponsorship, Sponsorship Activation, Sponsorship consultancy, Synergy, Twitter

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‘Switching from one to five sponsors cannot be judged until the Champions Cup is in its third year’

‘There has been some ill‑informed criticism of the failure to sign all five main [European Rugby Champions Cup] sponsors. Tim Crow of sponsorship experts Synergy is one, if not the leading authority on sponsorship in the UK and explained recently that for rights of the order sought by EPCR a lead‑up time of at least 18 months was needed. Thus, the wisdom of the decision to switch from one headline sponsor to five elite sponsors cannot be judged until the Champions Cup is in its third year. If forced to choose between the opinion of Crow and critical rugby columnists, I choose Crow.’

Writer, broadcaster and England and Lions legend Brian Moore cites Tim Crow’s recent Rugby World piece on the European Rugby Champions Cup in his Daily Telegraph column.

Click here for the article.


By on October 13th, 2014

Tags: Rugby, Sponsorship, Sponsorship consultancy, Sponsorship consultants, Synergy

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The Ryder Cup: Less Is More

“The most effective Ryder Cup sponsorships are one- to two-year integrated campaigns which build to a crescendo when the event starts.”

Ahead of this week’s 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, Tim Crow talks to the Financial Times about how to generate maximum value from a Ryder Cup sponsorship. Click here for the article.

By on September 22nd, 2014

Tags: BMW, Golf, Press Clipping, Ryder Cup, Sponsorship, Sponsorship consultancy, Sponsorship consultants, Synergy

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Badge of Honour

Almost a year ago, I wrote a blog on the latent potential for sponsors of Major League Soccer, citing climbing attendances, announcements of new teams with celebrity backers, a new major broadcast deal and a raft of high profile players from Europe.

On the face of it, the latest step in this development may not seem to be the most significant, but it’s perhaps more innovative than it first seems, and is yet another indication of the League’s progressive thinking that is helping to raise its profile with fans and sponsors alike.

With the current logo having been in use since the League played its first game in 1996, it was perhaps time for a refresh. The new effort is much more than a simple change of font, however. There are the usual ‘design inspirations’ that always surround a launch of any new logo whether that be in sport, art or fashion. In this case, the primary colours represent the United States and Canada, home to all MLS Franchises, whilst the prominent 3 stars represent the brand’s core values of ‘Club, Country and Community’. Nothing too groundbreaking here.


What sets this new design apart is the fact that the colours are fully interchangeable, making it easier for teams and sponsors to incorporate into their own content, whilst helping to drive the overall profile of the League itself. Any rightsholder’s goal should be to drive scale and commercial saleability for their property, and in something as simple as allowing interchangeable colours in their logo, the MLS is making it easier for both sponsors and teams to promote the League on their behalf around the globe.

Here it is amended for all teams within the League and how it will look on the LA Galaxy kit as of next season:


picture 2

A criticism often leveled at rightsholders is that they are prohibitively inflexible, often fearing that the equity that they have invested over time in their own intellectual property will be compromised as sponsors make their presence felt. It is easy to see why this can be the case – sponsors after all, will come and go, so effort must be made in order to protect the enduring asset. What the MLS have done  - and what I hope they continue to do in other areas – is to keep the bigger picture in mind of the promotion and growth of their sport, whilst appreciating the sponsors’ role within this.

LOCOG dipped their toe in this water for London 2012, developing a suite of colours for the Official Logo, allowing partners some freedom in its use in various contexts. It is also reminiscent of the Coca-Cola ‘Club Colours’ campaign – in which Synergy was instrumental – which saw Coke, as sponsors of the Football League, change the colours of its iconic logo for the first time in its history to match the colours of all 72 Football League clubs.

Coke - Football League Poster - Landscape

The MLS example however, represents a significant next step and a template for the future, that I would expect to see replicated elsewhere in the world – particularly in the developing leagues of Australia, Asia and the Middle East.

A perpetual issue within the launch of new partnerships can be the design of composite logos, which try, often in vain, to shoe-horn sponsor marks in with the existing logos of the rightsholder. If, as expected, the MLS open up their logo template to sponsors, it will be interesting to see whether more conservative football bodies such as the Premier League and the Football League take some inspiration from the other side of the pond – particularly with major title sponsorships on the market in the near future.

By on September 18th, 2014

Tags: Advertising, Art & Design, Branded content, Content, Design, Football, Football Sponsorship, Sponsorship Activation, Sponsorship consultancy, Sport

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Synergy In Brazil: Inside Nike ‘Casa Fenomenal’ in Rio

Synergy is on the ground in Brazil during the World Cup, in the shape of our pop-up PR and social media shop in Rio. In the latest in a series of blogs, Synergy’s Reema Babakhan takes us inside Nike’s ‘Casa Fenomenal’ brand experience in Rio.   

Although Nike isn’t an official World Cup sponsor, as always it has a pervasive presence on the field via 10 team sponsorships (more than any other brand), including hosts Brazil. They also have endorsement deals with a glittering array of players, including boy wonder Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and many more, with a large number of them wearing the unmissable Mercurial Superfly boot.

As ever too, Nike is equally unmissable off the field, with a huge integrated global marketing campaign, featuring Casa Fenomenal,a major brand experience in Rio that Synergy visited this week.

Following previous residencies in several cities, including London and New York, Casa Fenomenal is set in a spectacularly re-booted industrial warehouse and it celebrates the passion, culture and energy of Brazilian football.

As the doors open, you are struck by the strobe lighting, huge Brazilian artworks on the walls, banging DJ sets and LED screens that fill the venue. A huge cage in the centre plays host to a ‘winner stays on’ 3-a-side football tournament, where Rio kids play with spectacular skills and tricks.

Also on show are interactive exhibitions showcasing the most famous Nike ambassadors, evolutions of Nike’s boots and shirts, the history of the teams sponsored by the famous ‘swoosh’, and an opportunity to try out the aforementioned Mercurial Superflys.

With Nike VIPs also mingling with the crowd – Brazil and Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho on the night we were there – and Rio favourite, MC Marcinho playing a set that had the crowd going wild, Nike Casa Fenomenal was a stunning experience that unquestionably won the hearts and minds of the young, cool, football mad (and wealthy) Cariocas that Nike targets.

Throw in free WiFi, a stunning cinematic setting and sensory-busting exhibitions, and there’s no question that Nike is as ever at the beating heart of the World Cup. And there’s nothing official about it.

By on June 24th, 2014

Tags: Brazil 2014, Brazil 2014 Sponsorship, Default, Experiential marketing, Football Sponsorship, Innovation, Rio 2016, Sponsorship, Sponsorship Activation, Sponsorship consultancy, World Cup, World Cup Sponsorship, World Cup Sponsorship Consultants

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Ex John Hancock CEO on Olympic sponsorship and the IOC

In the latest SportsBusiness Journal, there’s a brilliant interview by SBJ’s Executive Editor Abe Madkour with David D’Alessandro, the former CEO of John Hancock Financial Services. D’Alessandro, a larger than life character who was a big and often controversial voice in sports sponsorship during his career (he retired in 2004), is fascinating and entertaining: on business, on being a CEO, and in particular on his attitude to sponsorship and John Hancock’s time as a global partner of the IOC – much of it very timely stuff given recent events in and around Sochi 2014. With Abe’s kind permission, I’ve reproduced some of the key passages from the interview below.

D’Alessandro on his sponsorship philosophy:

“Go big or go home. That’s my philosophy…Most companies are looking to increase market share. So how do you make yourself look three times bigger than you really are? By sponsoring something big and driving its revenue. Go big or go home.”

On successfully executing a sponsorship:

“Successful sponsorships don’t come from the brand people. It comes from the top, leadership at the company. The brand people don’t sit around the big table. They are all over at the kids’ table…You can’t go big unless leadership goes big. So you need to spend your time on the leadership first. You need access to the very top people.”

On getting buy-in to the John Hancock IOC sponsorship:

There wasn’t buy-in at first. In any corporation, you have a lot of marketing programs. This division, that division, this product line, that sales force – and each of them has this little empire, and in that empire they have something they like doing. This guy is sponsoring a Little League team. this guy has a lead-generation program, this guy has some advertising gig. And they all think they are the most important. A strong CEO says: ‘You know what? We are spending $80 million a year if you add it all up.’ Smart marketers say, ‘How do I get everybody under the same roof?’ You’ll never convince them. You’ll never get consensus. You have to dictate it. You have to say. ‘We are going to sponsor this. All you get in line. We are doing the Olympics…so get in line. Get rid of your contracts. I want everybody here.’ And then what happens is, ‘Oh my God, it starts to work.’”

On the success of the John Hancock IOC sponsorship:

“Our sales were going up…We had a common marketing program that everybody could get on board with. We weren’t spending any more money than we used to, but our name recognition was going way up and we were getting into deals we couldn’t get into. And we were attracting sales people that would sell for other companies and other brokers that wouldn’t sell for us before. We had record sales the years we were with the Olympics. Now, do I think it’s all because of the Olympics? No. Do I think it helped us? I certainly do…[it also helped land major deals in China and Japan when the company entered those markets.] Being an Olympic sponsor is a big deal in many parts of the world.” 

On his strategy during the Salt Lake scandal [In 1999 reports emerged accusing members of the IOC of taking bribes from the Salt Lake Organizing Committee during the bid process for the 2002 Winter Games. The allegations dominated the headlines and sparked multiple investigations, and D’Alessandro was a lone voice in the sponsorship community calling for the IOC to take action. He repeatedly and publicly criticized the body for system failure, making him a very polarizing figure — so much so that NBC Sports’ Dick Ebersol publicly called him a “bully” and stated he should “shut up.”]

Does he regret being so outspoken? “Why would I have regrets? They pissed me off. They lied. When the bribery issue first started, the IOC called me and told me, ‘In two weeks, this whole thing will be done.’ Then it became clear that they were covering this up and wanted to sweep it under the rug. What bothered me about it, and it seemed pretty fundamental, is that I actually grew up believing in the Olympics. I still do.  At Hancock, our product offering was very simple. Whether it was mutual funds or investment funds or insurance, you give us your money, and when you come to get it, it will be in bettershape. You’ll have more money. Trust us. TRUST us. I didn’t do the Olympic deal to be in bed with someone whose brand was, ‘Don’t trust us.’ And it was not trustworthy. We were the only one of the big sponsors who was really tapping into the ‘trust’ factor. I’m paying you $40 million or $50 million and you look immoral. Our research and surveys were starting to show that our sales competition was saying, ‘You are going to buy from those guys?’

On why he didn’t cancel the John Hancock IOC sponsorship:

He says he refused to just drop the sponsorship, even though it would have been the easy PR fix. Instead, he fought for changes. “Let’s say we simply dropped the sponsorship, which would be the corporate thing to do, which we could’ve done with our [morals] clause. But you’ve got six to eight years invested in it already. So that’s $300 [million] to $400 million invested in this thing, including advertising. So I’m going to drop it? Really? If a company drops a sponsorship, that guy who pushed it is dead; a dead man walking inside the company. They don’t stay. So I’ve got $300 [million] to $400 million invested in the Olympics. What am I supposed to do? Say ‘he’ made a mistake? ‘I’ made a mistake? You stick it out.”  He says he’s still surprised more people didn’t speak up. “Of the sponsors, I was the only CEO involved.” He picks at his salad and looks back at me. “It was by keeping their feet to the fire that they made a lot of changes. They weren’t ready to do that.” And it did lead to reform: There was the expulsion of several IOC members and adoption of new IOC rules. “I saw Jacques Rogge in 2002, and he said to me, ‘I didn’t like it at the time, but you did a great thing for us by keeping us alert.’ The IOC has no tolerance for scandal now. If there was a scandal in the IOC, it would be handled much more quickly.”

On his worst Olympic experience:

“Atlanta put on a terrible Olympic Games,” he says. “I was there for a week. It was like having a circus. They weren’t ready for prime time. It was over-commercialized. It was the worst of Americana, and it really turned off a European-centric IOC. The IOC learned something from that. They learned the Atlanta presentation was great, but you can’t pick these things on presentations. So they put much more solid teams in place to go around and look at the cities and facilities.”

The full interview can be viewed here. Believe me, it’s worth your time.

By on February 12th, 2014

Tags: Default, IOC, Olympic sponsorship, Sochi 2014, Sponsorship, Sponsorship consultancy

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#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

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Our Favourite Things Of 2013

The last week before Christmas gives us a great excuse (not that we need one) to remind ourselves of some of the campaigns, films, stunts, tech, social and experiential activity that really caught our eye in 2013. We don’t claim that this is an exhaustive list, and some of the things on it aren’t sponsorship, but they all made us want to share them (the key metric in the social era) because they were clever, creative, funny, and in some cases all three.


“Immortal Fans”

There is little doubt that this is the campaign of the year, and it has the Cannes Golden Lion to prove it.  If you haven’t seen it yet, where have you been? Hurry up and click on the film – your life is about to get better. And if you have seen it already, you’ll need no excuse to watch it again and remind yourself of the emotional power of sports. Nothing comes close to it, and that’s why sponsorship is awesome.


Another brilliantly clever use of sport  to address an important social problem. In Paraguay, 24% of children are not enrolled in civil registration, effectively leaving them with no identity. To raise awareness and spark social discussion on this issue, Paraguay and Uruguay played a football match where both teams wore shirts with no names on their backs, while the opening minutes passed without commentators referring to the players by name. As a result, both major presidential candidates agreed to address the problem if elected to office in the upcoming elections.



Nike Hypervenom House of Deadly

Nike, Neymar and the world’s largest immersive game experience – a combination that’s tough to beat. In addition to the ‘making of’ film below, here’s a blog we wrote about it back in November.

Coke Small World Vending Machines

Who’d have thought that two countries with such a history of mistrust and conflict could be brought closer together by a humble vending machine? But Coca-Cola showed how it could be done, and why they continue to be among the best marketers on the planet.

HTC Snapdragon Photobooth

To demo the power of its Snapdragon processor, Qualcomm mounted 130 HTC Smartphones into a big spiral to create a 540⁰ photobooth. Needless to say, capturing images in this way allows you to create pretty cool films – and almost convinces you to buy a smartphone just because it contains a Snapdragon processor.



It feels so long ago, but it was only this year that Oreo did its thing at the Superbowl. We’re not going to add any more column inches to that particular execution, but it did mark the tipping point when real-time and reactive content became a new, must-have weapon in sports marketing.

Zippo Saves the Sochi Olympics

The Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch has had more than its fair share of mishaps, but when it went out and was re-lit by a bystander with a Zippo, everyone’s favourite lighter company jumped on it brilliantly with executions that quickly went viral and, top of every Olympic ambusher’s wish-list, incurred the displeasure of the IOC.



Nando’s Fergie Time

Nando’s honoured the Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement by copying the stoppage time generosity that Sir Alex all too often received from referees, by keeping all their Manchester restaurants open for an extra 5 minutes of #NandosFergieTime.

Adidas and Andy Murray

Adidas ensured their tribute to Andy Murray went viral as soon as he was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year with instant social media creative and projection mapping outside the SPOTY. It didn’t hurt that Andy Murray also used the exact words in his acceptance speech… All demonstrating that much ‘real-time’ content is actually ‘prepared well in advance’ content.



Yeovil Town and the Safely Delivered Loan Signing

23rd July 2013 was a big day for the country: Yeovil Town was safely delivered of the loan signing of defender Alan Tate. In a move mirroring the announcement of the royal baby, the use of an easel and a framed declaration grabbed the attention of the national media and beautifully hijacked the zeitgeist.



The Oakley Bubba’s Hover

In the week before the US Masters, Oakley produced a fabulous stunt featuring a Bubba Watson hovercraft which re-imagined the golf buggy and perfectly matched Bubba’s ‘go for it’ approach. Here’s our blog on it all from back in April.



An American Coach in London

An amusingly self-deprecating take on (some) Americans’ views on sah-ker, this film, featuring Saturday Night Live’s Jason Sudeikis, helped launch NBC’s Premier League coverage. We expected it to be crap. It wasn’t.

Rory versus the Robot

Another golf stunt, with the European Tour pitting Rory McIlroy against a robot in a series of challenges. Went viral way beyond golf fans, and easily Rory’s best moment of the year on or off the course.

Heineken: The Negotiation

To be honest, Heineken create so much brilliant content, that it is almost impossible to choose just one. But, we’ve gone for The Negotiation, an imaginative take on the often repetitive story of a Football-loving partner and their other half.



US PGA Championship Pick the Pin Challenge

For the first time in history, the US PGA enabled fans to pick the pin location for the 15th hole during the final round of this year’s PGA Championship at Oak Hill. Nearly 100,000 people voted and (surprise surprise) 61% chose the location closest to the water. A brilliantly innovative way to engage fans digitally with the event and the sport. Check it out here.

David Beckham e-Book Signing

In 1998, David Beckham re-invented the sarong. In 2013, he re-invented the traditional book signing, streaming his book launch live on his Facebook page. And if you opted in with your e-mail address, you even got your very own digital Becks autograph. It sure beats the local Waterstone’s. Here is the great man in action.

Adidas Brazuca World Cup Ball Launch

A fan vote to choose the name? Check. A very cool interactive video with hidden content and allows you to see what the Brazuca sees? Check. Its own Twitter feed with 104,000 followers at the time of writing? Check. A total re-invention of a sponsorship asset? Check. Hats off to adidas, and here’s our blog on the Brazuca from a few days ago.



The Surprisingly Good Middle Eastern Airline Ad of The Year: Qatar Airways Barca Island

Book me a ticket on Qatar Airways. Barca Island looks awesome.


What do you do when a legend retires? You set the ball rolling by creating the #ThankYouSachin hashtag and then watch as fans, brands (including Coke and Heineken) and even the founder of Facebook picks it up and runs with it. Here’s our Storify of the key moments:


We hope you liked this review of some of our favourite things from 2013. If we’ve forgotten something that you think should be on the list, then please post a comment – we’d love you to share it.

Congratulations to all the people, brands, agencies and rightsholders who were responsible for this work and let’s hope the list in December 2014 is even better.

By on December 19th, 2013

Tags: Advertising, Ambush campaign, Ambush Marketing, American football, Andy Murray, Barclays Premier League, Basketball, BBC, Blogging, Brand marketing, Branded content, Brazil, Brazil 2014, Charity, Communications, Consultancy, Content, Creative, David Beckham, Default, Engine, Experiential marketing, Facebook, Football, Football Sponsorship, Golf, London 2012, London 2012 sponsorship, Media, Mobile, Naming Rights, NFL, Olympic sponsorship, Olympics, PGA Tour, PR, Public relations, RBS 6 Nations, Rugby, Running, Social Media, Sponsorship, Sponsorship Activation, Sponsorship consultancy, Sponsorship consultants, Sport, Synergy, Synergy Loves

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