Relevent15 conference review
Interview by Joey Franco
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, and I also mountain biked at a not-so-competitive level beyond just an amateur interest. 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.
I went back and did a post-grad in sports marketing, and initially thought that I wanted to work for a team. I then realized pretty quickly that it was not where I wanted to land.
That was in the early 90s, and at the time we called it 'sports marketing'―and then we all quickly realized towards the end of that decade that it was really 'sponsorship marketing.'
JF: How do you measure audience engagement in terms of loyalty, passion, and other intangibles?
IM: When I first got into the business, the way we measured was sort of, well, the president likes baseball, so we're sponsoring baseball, and he's happy. The sales guys brought some guys to the game and they were happy and it was a success.
Moving into the most recent recession, that wasn't enough anymore. CFOs were requiring marketers to prove our investments, so the measurement of sponsorship became more important.
When we measure a sponsorship for a sports team, for example, we'll go in and do research from consumers and fans and measure not only their connection to the sport or the team, but how strong is their fandom. Are they casual fans? Are they passionate fans? And what mix does each property bring to us? Certain properties have higher mixes of passionate fans versus casual fans and some are the opposite way around.
Then we can measure the connection and the awareness of our client's sponsorship and what it means to the fans in terms of enhancing their experience.
JF: If you could see into the future of sponsorship marketing, 10-20 years from now, how would you describe it?
IM: As consumers become harder to reach through what would be more traditional means, like advertising, we'll engage with the world through digital platforms or social platforms and those live interactions will become even more important.
JF: Are you saying that traditional forms of advertising, as we know them, might become obsolete?
IM: I wouldn't go that far, but certainly if you go back 18 or 20 years, the primary way to reach consumers was through broadcast, or through print media.
Now there are more consumer touch points, and therefore brands need to be more comfortable with reaching consumers through different channels.
JF: You’ve been in the business since the 90s, so it’s fair to say that you know the ins and outs of sponsorship marketing. What advice would you give to someone entering the field?
IM: It’s a pretty attractive industry and therefore there are a lot of smart people with lots of talent that want to get in. Certainly education is helpful…passion and smarts too.
I think it’s like anything, if you surround yourself with great people and you work hard, great things will happen.
JF: To what do you attribute the enduring success that Desperado has had both in Canada and globally?
IM: I think it’s hard work, and recognizing that credibility is our greatest asset. We pride ourselves on strong client service and really understanding our client’s business.
Also, attracting and retaining great people is an important part of our success.