The Importance of Communities in Sponsorship

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by Loretta Di Vita

Louis-Félix Binette, President and Co-Founder of f. & co., a Montreal-based creative agency, is a diplomat—not only of the capital “D” variety, having had a career in politics and the Canadian foreign service, but also a self-described natural-born diplomat.

Binette is what we call by popular vernacular, a “people person.” “I have a strong innate political sense, allowing me to bring people together, and manage expectations and sensibilities,” he reveals.

So how then does a guy who’s careful not to ruffle anyone’s feathers—both by diplomatic protocol as well as by genetic blueprint—get away with delivering a presentation filled with soft-porn GIFs and sexual innuendo?

“It’s all about making a point and having some fun,” Binette says.

But what exactly is the point? 

Binette, who is a trained linguist and enjoys plays on words, explains that he chose the soft-porn pretext as a “metaphor for the sexiness of sponsorship activation.”

In his view, activation should be fun, appealing, and sexy, er, but not too sexy. He likens the boundaries to those surrounding pornography. Just as hardcore pornography is socially agreed upon as taboo, when the genre is qualified as “soft,” it becomes more permissible—”kind of like a French movie that went a little further.”

Binette stretched the porn metaphor to illustrate how sponsorship activation, when linked to community, becomes a soft version of itself and thereby gains more far-reaching appeal—and more feeling, dare we say.

According to Binette, greater human perspective and emotion are needed in a ROI-oriented business that tends to obsess over the spreadsheet.

“We need to shed our accountant skin, and delve into the human side—feelings, fears, hopes—of corporate citizenship. That—strategically and marketing wise—is friggin’ sexy. We must envision the sponsor-sponsee union as an actual relationship, rather than merely a vulgar contract where money is exchanged for X, Y, Z—that instead is prostitution!”

Any way you cut it, he laid bare a bold premise; unsurprising, though, coming from a speaker who prefaced his presentation with a half-joking warning: “If there are any prudes in the room, maybe you should leave now.”

Shock-value aside—or because of it—Binette pulled off his presentation like a boss.

“I tried to bring an outsider perspective and some irreverence to the conference theme,” he says. “I wanted to add some show biz.”

And indeed he did. The audience was certainly stirred to attention, and just like his presentation’s oozy visuals stick to memory, conference-goers will surely remember the quirky hand-knit monkey tuque he wore (a fun nod to MailChimp―a sponsor of CreativeMornings/Montréal, hosted by Binette).

Theatrics may have added style, but the presentation delivered on substance too. Binette gave participants the chance to put theory into action, when he facilitated a hands-on (forgive the pun) workshop segment, asking groups to generate their own plans for community-linked activations.

The exercise illustrated how activation can be a vehicle for achieving sponsorship goals. It also reflected the conference’s prime objective of bringing representatives from the various disciplines that fall under the sponsorship marketing umbrella together to engage in creative dialogue.

How does Binette describe the meeting of creative minds at the Relevent conference? “It was like when waves meet at different angles and beautiful things happen.”

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