Roundtable: How Sponsors Choose Events

We talked to five marketers who control their companies\' sponsorship spending to find out how they evaluate proposals and make their decisions.

Tom Crawford is director of partner marketing for a business unit of Motorola and was formerly thecompany’s director of corporate sponsorships/sports marketing, where he oversaw corporate sponsorship strategy and management of global programs. “All sponsorship proposals must be submitted to Motorola via our Web site, I realize properties don’t necessarily like these filtering sites, but it is very important to use because the questions we ask are specific and relevant to our business. In general terms, Motorola would only consider sponsorships if they are broad in size and scope, if they demonstrate our product leadership or expertise in association with the property, and if the property represents the values and attributes of our brand. We are a large company with customers virtually in every market. We use programs of perceived value to our customers that can have impact or be replicated in many markets. Therefore, we rarely execute sponsorships that are too narrow—local fairs, festivals, or one-time, local market events.”Laurie Thompson is director of entertainment marketing for Sprint. “It’s important to us, as we’re evaluating and accepting proposals, that we have internal buy-in. For us, it’s not only taking the proposal into our group, but selling it within to many other groups. If we can’t accurately represent why someone would want to leverage a particular asset, then they’re not going to be supportive. A lot of times people submit proposals as if the buck stops here and don’t realize that there are arms and legs within the company that [we] need to gain buy-in from. For instance, when we were presented with the proposal to sponsor the upcoming U.S. tour of the Hispanic rock band Maná, we shared it with our counterparts in [the] acquisition marketing, base marketing, and product marketing [departments] before proceeding. We thought it was a great opportunity from the beginning, but if other business units couldn’t leverage tour assets, like tickets and private meet-and-greets, it wouldn’t have the same value.”

Allen Spence is the brand manager for Courvoisier. “We try to control the production of the event. That helps us put our fingerprint on the event—it’s not just a party. We want the organization or event to have credibility with consumers, and we want to be certain the opportunity provides the influencers who we want to interact with the brand. It’s important for us to sample cocktail strategies with consumers, and we want an event to allow us to take consumers through a Courvoisier experience they’ve never had before. Our first BET awards after-party sponsorship experience really allowed us to raise the bar when making decisions about strategic partnerships. We went to the Roosevelt Hotel and took over every meeting space and common area they had. We had the ability to truly leverage Courvoisier’s presence, not just with brand placement at the venue but through meet-and-greets, sample tastings with V.I.P.s and celebrities, and overall consumer education.”

Greg Walker is director and vice president of brand and market development and multicultural marketing for Eastman Kodak. “We’re not looking for long-term sponsorship opportunities anymore. We used to get involved in multiyear agreements, but we’re starting to move away from that. The nature of our business is forcing us not to commit ourselves to long-term associations the way we used to. When selling film was our focus, it made sense to look at long-term relationships. It gave us product exclusivity and a way of blocking competition. In the digital world, products change every six months. It doesn’t behoove us to mesh ourselves to a property for an extended amount of time. We need the flexibility of being able to align our resources where they have the most benefit for the business. We probably take on one or two new properties a year, and they do not have long-term commitments.”

Kim Moss is sponsorships and event manager for UPS. “Last year, we took the step to develop an overarching, enterprise-wide sponsorship strategy. While our sponsorships from the past met our objectives, our decision-making was less formalized. We created a suite of tools for our regions and districts to use, including an online sponsorship proposal tool and ROI model tools. UPS’s focus is business-to-business—so sponsorships that might appeal to consumer companies, whether Coca-Cola or cosmetics, don’t have the same appeal for us. We are in the business of creating strategic relationships, showcasing our broader international capabilities, and making an impact where we invest. Sponsorships are one way to accomplish our objectives. For example, Fashion Week gave us the opportunity to reposition our brand and keep awareness on our global capabilities.”

Erika Rasmusson Janes
More in Experiential, Activations & Sponsorships