Signed, sealed, and delivered - Tailored and concise rights packages are what brands will pay for


The importance of tailoring rights packages to the sponsor’s needs was one of the key learnings that came out of a webinar titled Sport’s New Frontiers: The Future of International Federations’ Sponsorship Rights Strategies, hosted by SportAccord Convention in collaboration with its 2014 Media Partner and Exhibitor SportBusiness Group.

Speakers included:

·         Didier Mieville, Marketing and TV Director, World Archery Federation

·         Brian Mahony, Director of Global Projects, International Triathlon Union’s (ITU)

·         Joel Seymour-Hyde, Vice President of Strategy EMEI

The panel was moderated by Matthew Glendinning, Editor of Sports Sponsorship Insider.

A recent survey by SportBusiness that looked at the current market of sponsorship concluded that brands will spend less on activation.

Joel Seymour-Hyde opened the discussion by saying that due to anomalies in the market we cannot take such a broad view.

“It’s difficult to generalise performance in the sponsorship market. In the period of economic downturn there was a saying that ‘flat was the new up’, it was definitely a different market to operate in. Now we are through the worst, we are seeing increases in rights fees. The flat is coming up again.”

For World Archery, Didier Mieville is happy they have retained their main sponsors during this period.

“Kia Motors and Turkish Airlines have been with us since 2006 and it’s been a great accomplishment to retain them. As a smaller player we were able to negotiate a little increase, but nothing major.”

Whilst the sponsorship market may be susceptible to external influences, two factors that won’t change are the knowledge of the market and the power of networking.

Didier explained that the success of World Archery’s relationships with Kia Motors and Turkish Airlines was a result of networking and relationship-building.

“Sponsors are not calling us like they do in football. Though the events we are proposing are unique, networking is the key. It is one step to know and convince someone, but another to show we have a good enough value proposition worth retaining.”

The ITU have built a strong relationship with Lagadere Unlimited Events who have been appointed by the ITU to help secure their sponsorships. Octagon, however, work in a different capacity, acting as a brand consultant rather than a sales agent.

“Our core business is to advise brands and know the market. We look at what’s gaining attraction and how others are positioning themselves, this allows us to shape rights packages and find the right opportunities for rights holders,” said Joel.

One way an International Federation can make itself more attractive to sponsors is through its competition structure. Both World Archery and the ITU have changed their structures. In 2009 the ITU transformed their 16 series World Cup into an 8 series World Championship. Whilst World Archery increased the number of their events.

“It was a major decision for us. Before the World Cup we only had World Championships every two years. The World Cup has given us a series and a solid platform which we can propose and sell,” said Didier.

The trend in terms of how organisations should be packaging up their rights is that there is no trend, according to our speakers.

“Rights holders shouldn’t be consistent with how they package their rights. They have to adapt. Take the Premier League, they have a structure that lends itself to a title sponsor. This model works. But for the Champions League the six partner model is working,” says Joel.

In contrast to World Archery’s suite of five global partners and four second tier partners, the ITU focus on local venue sponsorships.

“We focus on local activations to maximise sponsorship revenues. We found that local events tend to leverage more and put a lot more in,” said Brian.

“We also found that with our sponsors not all markets apply to their products, maybe three or four, but not all. But where it works, there is sometimes space to move into a global partnership, as we did with Threadneedle Investments following the 2013 World Triathlon Grand Final in London.”

Although rights packages should each be unique, one thing Joel strongly recommends all rights holders do is an audit of their rights.

“Take the time to analyse the rights you have available. Tailor your inventory and work out if you lend yourself to one or multiple partnerships,” Joel said.

Social media can be an important indicator for brands to judge where rights holders sit in the commercial landscape.

“Being active on social media helps us to set a benchmark at which some sponsors compare us to our competitors,” said Brian.

“Having people engage with us on social media is important because they are also engaging with the brand. It’s not just about numbers but about engagement too,” Brian said.

Didier agreed that cross-promotion is particularly important for their sponsors in the business of archery, as it is another channel through which to reach their audience.

World Archery and the ITU were amongst the first International Federations to set up a YouTube channel. But for the ITU the channel is not used to brand live competition streaming.

“We have a paid-for subscription channel which shows live content, however, we don’t brand it because we feel it is a premier space. It’s a separate commercial model where we hold on to the value of our members, not just sponsors.”

Offering up their top tips for short term sponsorship success, the speakers agreed that building a genuine relationship and tailoring clear, concise packages is key. In addition Joel wrapped up by saying that rights holders should ask themselves one question.

“Following your elevator pitch can the brand explain to their colleagues in 30 seconds who you are, what you do, and why they should sponsor you?”

Registration is now open for our webinar titled ‘Sport's New Frontiers - Ultimate Sports Cities of the Future’ taking place Tuesday 25 March at 14:00 GMT. Sign up here.