FRIDAY 9 OCT 2009 4:47 PM


Interactivity, participation, education, philanthropy and environmental concerns – all feature in some of the most successful recent corporate sponsorship partnerships: But which are regarded most highly in the sponsorship community? Marino Donati found out

From establishing a new brand in a market place or raising the profile of an existing one, to building relationships in new markets, an effective corporate sponsorship programme is an essential part of many organisations’ business plan. But which programmes have been most successful? We asked top sponsorship, marketing and PR agencies to pick the best recent examples of corporate sponsorship to have enhanced sponsors’ brands while also broadening the boundaries of effective sponsorship partnerships. Here are the top five deals chosen by the experts surveyed.


E.ON and The FA Cup

E.ON’s sponsorship of The FA Cup received plaudits as a deal which saw a brand name with little awareness in the UK establishing a profile for itself in a relatively short period of time.

E.ON, which took over Powergen in 2002, hardly existed as a brand in the UK market place three or four years ago but the deal with the FA in 2006 put it on the map with both businesses and consumers in a very effective way. The deal is in its final year this season but most agree that the sponsorship has served its purpose for the utilities company.

Nigel Currie, director of sports marketing agency Brand Rapport, which worked with E.ON on the tie up, which included the youth and women’s competitions, says it was not rocket science.

“This was very straight-forward and simple,” he says. “E.ON was a new brand, it used to be Powergen. The objective was to establish the name and create a high level of awareness. Sport sponsorship is a fantastic medium for creating high levels of awareness without getting into much detail about the brand. When a new brand takes over an old brand, it’s a great way of doing it.”

Currie says that utilities companies and financial are often big sponsors of sport because the brands can be seen as a little boring.

“Sports sponsorship can make them vaguely sexy and interesting,” he says. “Sport makes up around 80 to 90% of sponsorship. It’s very popular because it comes with a lot of media content, it’s one of the only ways you can have a presence on non-commercial television stations too. But once you’ve paid for the sponsorship rights, the sponsor also needs to then spend the same again on making the most of it and taking advantage of using new databases, tying in with direct marketing, and setting up hospitality.”


iShares and the iShares Cup

Launched three years ago, the iShares Cup has developed from a relatively new sport into one of the most exciting sailing events in Europe, and was admired by the people we spoke to for being a positive story during a bad time for financial institutions.

It was also an opportunity for iShares, Barclays Global Investors’ exchange-traded fund platform, to go one better than the traditional sporting corporate sponsorship method by effectively helping to develop the entire event almost from scratch.

The iShares Cup sees teams of expert sailors race each other in 40-foot catamarans all within close proximity to the show making it a more dramatic and entertaining spectacle than the typical sailing competition.

“At first we looked at every kind of sponsorship deal from husky dogs in the Arctic to other more traditional sports, but a sailing event came out top,” says Rick Andrews, head of marketing for iShares Europe.

“Our criteria was that we wanted something innovative, at the forefront of technology, that had integrity and was also environmentally friendly,” he says. “We also liked that fact that it was really a new event that we could get involved with from the beginning and shape the event.”

He adds that the element of teamwork was also crucial as part of the corporate hospitality element. “Each boat has a fifth person, a passenger who can go along,” says Andrews. “That’s an experience that money can’t buy for our clients. We have done a lot of work on researching the impact of the event with exit interviews with all the people there and 95% say it’s in their top five events they’ve ever been to. It also gets a lot of media attention so it gets the name out there.”

iShares worked with event organiser OC Events, part of Ellen MacArthur and Mark Turner’s OC Group, to develop the iShares Cup which now has races in the UK, France, Italy, German and the Netherlands. iShare’s title sponsor deal is a two-year rolling contract and there are plans to look at other locations including the Far East in the future.


HSBC and China Design Now at V&A

HSBC had key emerging markets in its sights with its sponsorship of the China Design Now exhibition at the Victoria & Albert museum last summer. Several of those surveyed regard the tie-up as an effective way of reinforcing cross-country relationships and promoting cultural understanding, a key factor in doing successful business in local markets.

Neil Hopkins of Four Sports, Arts and Sponsorship, says: “It’s a sponsorship deal that is integrated into how HSBC has been marketing itself for many years, as the world’s local bank. Emerging markets are going to be a focus of activity going forwards for many companies, and it’s all about local marketing expertise, and this kind of sponsorship can help to underpin the message that you put forward through an above the line marketing campaign.”

Marah Winn-Moon, HSBC head of cultural sponsorship, explains that the sponsorship was part of HSBC’s cultural exchange programme, and was more about deepening understanding of the HSBC brand rather than raising awareness.

“We had done a survey which showed that there was a lack of understanding about cultural and lifestyle differences between the UK and China,” she says.

“We’ve always done cultural and sporting sponsorship globally – we’re in 86 markets. And we have a commitment to help people appreciate different cultures, which is vital to do business with them. It wasn’t just the exhibition, we also organised workshops on how to do business in China.”

She adds: “We have a brand health index which showed that there was an uplift in certain parts of the index. This is extremely good value for money, and less expensive than sports sponsorship, which is less targeted and more about reaching a mass audience.”

HSBC followed up the China exhibition with an Indian Summer exhibition at the British Museum this summer as the latest project of its cultural exchange programme. It has also teamed up with the UK India Business Council to run workshops in Manchester, Birmingham, Leicester and London, where there’s a strong interest in doing business with India from small and medium-sized businesses.


Standard Chartered and the Great City Race

Banks and financial institutions are no strangers to sponsoring sporting events but the Standard Chartered Great City Race epitomises the increasing trend for participation, and was considered a success by those we spoke to.

The event, running annually since 2005, sees around 6,000 people in corporate teams taking part in a 5km run around the City of London.

Sponsorship and marketing agency Capitalize worked with Standard Chartered on the tie-up. Chief executive Richard Moore says: “It’s a highly targeted event, but the fact that it’s participatory gives a special flavour to it. This isn’t just having a corporate box and the Emirates or Wembley stadium, you actually need team work and to do some practice. You’ve got to do something to earn your medal.”

According to Moore, the Great City Race is always oversubscribed and participants include around 400 Standard Chartered employees.

The sponsorship aim was a mixture of incentivising and motivating staff and providing opportunities to “entertain” Standard Chartered’s clients or potential clients.

He says: “Standard Chartered is a wholesale and high net worth individual bank, but everyone including staff is treated as a guest of the sponsor. We do qualitative and quantitative analysis on how effective it is, as well as staff surveys. We want to know: does it motivate them or make them more proud to work for the bank?”

The event isn’t bad for raising the profile of the bank either – Moore says that the media coverage of the Great City Race is worth in excess of £1 million.

Standard Chartered is no stranger to this kind of event, sponsoring marathons in locations where it has a presence as a retail bank, including Hong Kong and Singapore.

The banks was also singled out in our survey for its recently signed deal to leverage the global potential of English football with a £80 million deal to sponsor Liverpool Football Club in a four-year deal starting in 2010.


Siemens and the Science Museum

Technology firm Siemens’ three-year programme of sponsoring exhibitions at London’s Science Museum from 2005 to 2008 was rated highly in our survey of sponsorship experts for its ability to integrate education, and CSR with profile-raising.

Pippa Collett, managing director of Sponsorship Consulting, says: “We started talking with Siemens in 2004 to help them with their strategy and objectives which were to create some brand presence in business to business relationships.”

“The science relationship came quickly and although there were other options it was felt to be the most appropriate,” says Collett. “Siemens wanted something London-centric but with a regional reach, and the Science Museum exhibitions go on tour. Some businesses are not very creative with their sponsorship, they just put their logo on it. Siemens has a lot of competitors so had to make it stand out.”

Siemens’ sponsoring of the museum’s Antenna gallery exhibitions were on themes including building technology, brain scanning techniques and bio-fuels and how to reduce CO2.

“Branding and awareness is only part of the story,” says Ian Riley, Siemens’ head of marketing communications. “We always try to find sponsorship that will work in different ways. Not just to create association with a thought leader, but corporate social responsibility and education. The exhibitions were all linked to themes that were of interest in general but they area also linked to the business,” says Riley. “Siemens has always been an innovative company and we wanted to underline the fact that that continues. It was also a science show which went on tour to different schools, and we had a schools competition for gadgets of the future, which ties in, as some of our business is linked with local schools.”