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Risk management in sponsorship


While we don’t want to overstate this issue, it is a sad realization that both event promoters and brands need to take new security threats into account. Promoters and local police forces have been quick to make adjustments in the wake of recent events. We saw that at South by Southwest, where police cars blocked street access near pedestrian areas, and in Europe, where giant (branded) sandbags were set up to prevent vehicles from entering crowded areas.

Security: The “what if” scenario

Massimo Tammaro, who handles enterprise risk management at Ferrari, discussed risk management in sponsorship at the last edition of the Relevent sponsorship conference.

To prevent any kind of damage—including reputational damage—you have to challenge the assumptions behind every strategy that your team has put in place. This is the “what if” scenario. To do this, you must be creative. You need to invent hypothetical scenarios and imagine every which way that a scenario might play out.

With all of the threats out there, events and venues must do all they can to improve concrete security measures, create an overall feeling of security, and avoid fuelling a sense of panic in the event that something does happen.

The main takeaway is that everyone needs to become a risk manager. If you do your job right and map out all these risks, you’ll also discover new opportunities along the way.

Enterprise risk management means:

  • Being respectful, open-minded and ready to be challenged
  • Creating a safe environment for your team to share new ideas
  • Being proactive as opposed to reactive or preventative (it’s not about what comes “after”)
  • Not taking anything for granted
  • Not assuming that because something went well last year, it will work again this
  • year (and vice-versa)
  • Playing the devil’s advocate
  • Challenging statements like “That will never happen,” or “We have
  • always done it this way and it’s worked”
  • Being prepared for the worse case scenario but hoping and working for the best

Get risky in the creative process

On a more positive note, we would like to end this trend forecast by talking about the importance of risk-taking as part of the creative process. When you’re organizing your event and developing the consumer experience, challenging the status quo is key. Doing something new, something that has never been done before, is always risky. But when it works, it is also incredibly rewarding. As a sponsor or as a property, don’t rest on your laurels. Surprise your audience and your consumers. If something worked in the past, great: that means that you have an opportunity to make it even better the next time around. In the music industry, a lot of smaller boutique events are creating a lot of buzz, partly because the main staple events share many of the same artists. Incumbents always run the risk of being challenged by the new up-and-comers.


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