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Sponsorship in the New Events World

10 November 2018

Sponsorship in the New Events World

As shared at the Racecheck Event Organisers Day Out


Alistair Turner, Eight PR


If you’ve seen the film Inception (2010) you’ll understand just how difficult it is to plant an idea into someone’s mind. In the film, Leonardo DiCaprio leads a team of thieves who, for a day job, enter the mind’s of their ‘mark’ and steal their secrets; extraction. The twist in the film however, is that in this story, they use all their skills to implant an idea; inception.


In this writer’s opinion Inception is a brilliant film, high on drama and action where the team enter dreamscapes, and take on people’s nightmares, and sub-conscious defences. It has a great line, that sums up the complexity of the film; ‘who’s subconscious are in now?’. In short, Leo proves to us all that planting ideas in minds is difficult business.


We know this to be true in the real world too. The Meaningful Brands Index, created by media company Havas, recently showed that 74% of brands do not have the level of loyalty that they desire; the new age consumer is not brand loyal and these products have not reached deep enough into thesubconscious!


But why would they want to anyway? Simple, as Leosays, an idea is like a virus, it takes over you, it spreads quickly and indiscriminately, it is power. If we are a brand and we reach the subconscious, it means we have loyalty, advocacy, and a partnership with our customer, not just a passive transactional relationship. For a brand, the subconscious is the promised land.


It’s for this reason that so many brands are migrating their marketing budget into the world of events, and this is where the opportunity lies for race directors (or #eventproffs as the industry is calling you now). In short, the move from an event to an experience is the difference between a profitable brand partnership or not. From a sponsorship point of view it’s important to understand this background, and the objectives and challenges that are in the minds of most brand marketers; ‘how can I best utilise my brand to create loyalty’.


It means a fundamental shift in how we manage and execute these partnerships. If we create an event, with branding opportunities we’re missing the point. If we create an experience, with a brand created world that consumers can walk into; we’re providing genuine value. As event directors, we need to activate sponsorships, not just manage them, we should never just take the money, but look at ways in which we can ask the brand to be a part of the experience creation.


It’s important to fill in a bit of the backstory here, when researching why brands invest in sponsorship, it is to enforce an existing relationship, ahead of creating new relationships. The reality isthat the majority of sponsorship spend is aimed at existing customers. This is important collateral for the event director as the brand already has an existing relationship and, if the two parties share the same values, then more can be done to grow the event, with the end benefiting both parties. My advice for any race director working with brands is to let them into the business, and to use their often-substantial knowledge and resources.


If we do, we know the incredible value live experiences can bring towards brands. Here they have the benefit of meeting their customer face to face, in an environment that suits their products. It gives them the chance to create a world for their customers, and let them walk through it, increasing loyalty and strengthening their own relationships. A good friend of mine summarised the new way of brand marketing in a simple sentence ‘These days, it’s not about what a brand says to you, it’s about what it does for you.’ 


A good sponsorship should be a living example of what the brand is willing to do for its customers, through a partnership with your event. Done properly they achieve the ultimate inception.









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