This morning Generate Co-Founder and Managing Director Rupert Pratt co-chaired an extremely insightful and informative European Sponsorship Association breakfast briefing. The event explored the ways that sponsorship buyers and sellers need to think in the face of revolutionary changes in customer behaviour and technology, and the challenges that they present to the marketing mix.

Alongside Rupert moderating the session was Ben Wells, Board Director at ESA and Managing Director at Well Said. Together they posed a number of interesting questions and challenges to a room full of sports industry experts.

Those in attendance were treated to a high-calibre panel which included:

  • Rebecca Birkbeck, CEO of Join In Trust who find new and innovative ways to inspire people to get involved their communities through volunteering in sport
  • Dominic Hayes, Commercial Director at Premiership Rugby
  • James Kendall, Sponsorship Consultant who up until recently was the Commercial Director at Harlequins
  • Diarmaid Murphy, Commercial and Sponsorship Manager for GAA and Croke Park Stadium.

At the forefront of the discussion was whether an effective sponsorship agreement is about a rights-for-cash swap or about brands and rights holders working together to create an enhanced customer experience, with the payback through improved customer loyalty, retention and advocacy.

All parties agreed that an engaged target audience would become a much more interesting platform for a rights holder to take to market.  As an example, at the top end “sponsorship", such as a Premier League football shirt deal, is now just a more effective multi-market media buy. For rights holders that don’t have this media footprint, they need to look at maximising commercial income elsewhere - and that doesn't necessarily mean through trying to get more direct sponsorship income. 

To see how the debate unfolded, check out @EuropSponsAssoc and @MonggoseAgency on Twitter.

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