I predict a big year for sponsorship. It’s been steadily gaining a bigger seat at the big boy table, but this year I anticipate it will accelerate at great speed. We have seen big brands slowly start to pull away from badging and into more integrated experiential campaigns – lead by partnerships, whether in a traditional rights holder/sponsor sense or through multi-agency collaboration. The value of Big Data is finally being understood by the ‘every brand’ and implementation of data is finally getting into Star Wars territory (A.I. and more). As a bit of a geek myself, I am truly excited for 2017.
But at the heart of sponsorship and at the heart of sales for any business is the audience – which is why I predict 2017 to be big for our industry like never before.
Here are the trends I think we’ll see:
1. Young blood, new ideas: Sponsorship as an industry has grown and more university students are realising that if they can’t be the next David Beckham, then they could perhaps work in football through sponsorship. We’ve seen a significant increase in university students applying for internships and placements in the last year. Once these kids are out and start working, I think we’ll see a shift in process with some of the more traditional sponsorship agencies – and the creative that comes out of them.
2. Consolidation makes way for the little guy: A number of long-established sponsorship agencies got bought, sold and acquired last year (Brand Rapport, Brand Meets Brand, Generate Sponsorship) and I predict we’ll see a number of new start-ups in the sponsorship space launching in the next 6 months.
3. Consolidation lends to campaigns rather than ad hoc projects: With a number of long-established sponsorship agencies merging/selling into larger agencies with additional disciplines, the aim will be to create a more integrated approach for their clients. This type of business is more beneficial to clients through a long-term approach so I predict the desire of these agencies to focus on campaigns and retainers. This may create opportunities for other agencies to scoop up the ad hoc projects throughout the year.
4. Big brands taking on transformational sponsorship: Transformational sponsorship is sponsorship that shifts an entire business practice. Rather than being stuck moving the needle in the marketing department, Boards are starting to realise that integrating sponsorship can impact the entire organisation. We have had more requests from brands last year to help them integrate transformational sponsorship (or sponsorship without logos) than we have had in our 6-year history. This trend is sure to continue.
5. The ‘British Brand’ of sponsorship agency makes bigger waves overseas: Slingshot now has more than 35% of our retained clients headquartered overseas, with 60% of our clients international and the remaining national in the UK. This is a radical change from a couple of years ago when we only worked with local clients on local programmes with maybe a handful of smaller international projects. As technology makes the world smaller, there is greater opportunity to expand and grow market share elsewhere. I believe this trend will continue with both an influx of international agencies working in the UK and UK agencies getting brought in for more international pitches.
However you look at it, I think 2017 will be a very exciting year – best of luck!
*I was 4/5 on last year’s predictions, to see last year’s predictions click here.