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changing according to a new report published by International Marketing Reports.

The findings, published in Driving Business Through Sport part 3, Activation & Case Studies, show that there is a shift towards digital and experiential activation.

“In the past sponsorship has been activated through traditional marketing disciplines such as advertising, PR, promotions, hospitality and merchandise,” says report author Simon Rines.

“The new report analyses case studies from many of the leading sponsors across Europe and it shows that there is a move towards online activation and live events.

“Some of the findings are predictable given that the world has moved online in recent years, but what is interesting is the attitude that sponsors are taking towards the use of new media. They can see that traditional media is in decline, so activation has to shift towards new media. Instead of merely seeking to gain exposure on third party sites, however, they are starting to take control of this media. Many major sponsors have now created their own sites to maximise their investments.”

Rines points out that this doesn’t merely mean that the sponsorship has its own site, the activation process has become more sophisticated than that:

“What we are seeing is themed sites emerging. For example, UK sponsor Carling created a social networking site for Sunday League football. Amateur players can set up their own team site and post news, scores, video, pictures and comments. It wasn’t directly linked to the brand’s sponsorship of professional football, but that sponsorship gave it the credibility to own the medium.

“What is particularly impressive about this case study is that the brand then activated it further through experiential and viral marketing. They introduced a touch of glamour to a Sunday league football match by bringing a public address system, fireworks, perimeter boards, an MC and an opera singer to sing the national anthem. This alone created a huge amount of news coverage. But the significant part was the posting of videos on file sharing sites such as YouTube and Metacafe as well as sites owned by relevant media such as men’s lifestyle magazine Loaded. This resulted in tens of thousands of views and helped to boost site traffic and use. Without any official rights whatsoever, Carling now has a degree of ownership of Sunday league football in the UK, which is almost an institution in itself."

Case studies featured in the report show that other sponsors have used the web to great effect, and they include Coca-Cola which leveraged its Football League sponsorship through promotions that drove fans to its site.

The report also shows that live engagement is becoming increasingly important.

“There is definitely a rise in the number of sponsorship programmes that seek to activate through live communication,” says Rines.

“In the report, the case studies in which this happens vary enormously, but include a government campaign to reduce motorcycle accidents, Samsung setting up a fan singing zone at Chelsea, CSR programmes that include kids’ coaching and, arguably most creative of all, Allianz leveraging its Munich naming rights deal at airports and city centres around the world.”

More information on the report, including sample material and a full table of contents is available on the report page.



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