In 2014, the Canada Sponsorship Landscape Study noted a 6.7% decrease in sponsorship spending in the country after years of steady increase. This sector is once again seeing growth—IEG predicts a 4.5% increase in 2016—in large part due to the arrival of new players and the increase in activation budgets (which is often taken from the amount paid in rights). As a result, several properties are facing a cap on their sponsorship revenues, especially in high-level professional sports and important music festivals.
Because anything can be sponsored—or almost anything—you’d think that companies would be busy transforming their sponsorship portfolio every time a new trend hit the market. Instead, they tend to focus on their existing partnerships because long-term relationships have a way of paying off.
We are seeing a stabilization of partnerships in the major sponsorship categories, which suggests that brands are adopting a more strategic approach. The average duration of a partnership has also gone up. There is less movement in the marketplace overall, with the exception of brands pulling out during more difficult economic periods.
It's no wonder that the sponsorship veteran refers to himself as "The Captain" at FishBait Marketing. Over the course of his outstanding three-decade career, he has sold sponsorship packages for some of the top sports and entertainment properties in the world: Wimbledon, the PGA Tour, the Goodwill Games and the Cricket World Cup—to name a few.
JF: You specialize in sponsorship marketing. There are many marketing areas that you could have chosen; why this one?
IM: I was an athlete, skiing at a pretty competitive level. So, I was always interested in the connection between sports and fan passion and how brands could leverage that connection and be part of it. In my very late twenties, I determined that after working for a period of time in radio and having some exposure in the news department at a couple of stations I worked with in sports, that I wanted to activate that passion.
The presentation centred around the misguided practice of organizations spending "big money" to establish platforms such as magazines, blogs and video channels and then obsessively force-feeding them content, simply because the platforms exist.
Lee described how some businesses are the masters of their own misery, creating content-guzzling monsters that—in a vicious circle—"keep growing and thereby require more and more input." Ironically, efforts to beef up platforms leave in their wake ever-expanding monsters bloated full of token content.
In a world where the dissemination of brand communications is dictated by a mysterious and constantly-evolving media landscape, companies like French need to be at the top of their game and on top of the many mechanisms that make up today’s connected world.
Noel makes it clear that the ever-changing media space has made sponsorships more challenging. Brands are looking for more return on their investment, and every dollar counts.