Glittering Prizes?

Felix Thomson

Content Executive

The Financial Services Forum

There was no winner in the sponsorship category in the 2005 Financial Services Forum Awards for Marketing Effectiveness. Only one company entered in this section, and the judges felt that it was unable to demonstrate a real return on investment. Yet the financial services sector has been the most active in sponsorship in Britain over the past five years. Rupert Williamson discusses the conundrum, and suggests some practical approaches to more effective implementation.
Globally, sponsorship is now a $30 billion business, and in Britain it has grown from an estimated £51m in 1981 to £1 billion in 20053. The sponsorship industry has grown up, and is a recognized and credible part of the marketer’s armoury. So is it a case of all the current campaigns really not being worthy of the Forum award, or can we expect a bumper crop of entries in 2006? The return on investment problem is a criticism often levelled at sponsorship. It does suffer from a lack of convenient measurement tools and, often, from a lack of an evaluation budget. This is a theme that I shall come back to in more detail.
Clearly, many Forum members and Argent readers have been delivering clever, well-thought-out, targeted and effective sponsorship campaigns for years. HSBC, LloydsTSB, RBS, NatWest and Barclays have all had very high-profile sponsorship portfolios over a long period. Unsurprisingly, Mastercard, Visa and Amex are also high-spending sponsors.4 Nationwide has also enjoyed tremendous growth during its highly successful tenure as sponsor of both the Football Association and the Football League. It would appear that this has now become a little too expensive, though, and Peter Gandolfi, who was responsible for the football sponsorship and is now head of marketing, has recently declared that advertising will receive the bulk of Nationwide’s marketing spend over the coming years. But it seems that the company will still maintain a healthy, if smaller, football and music sponsorship portfolio to achieve certain marketing objectives.
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