Sponsorship Matters to Asia

Posted by in Asia, Sponsorship

Asian Sponsorship Association Networking Event – Wednesday Nov 20, 2013, Singapore.

Late last month, SRi sponsored and hosted a meeting of the soon to be formed Asian Sponsorship Association (ASA). With 30 invited guests from agencies, brands, government, media and rights holders, the lunch was a hot bed of ideas and discussion around sponsorship in the Asia region.

Eight weeks had passed since the idea of the ASA was floated at the Sports Matters conference in September and support for the Association had been substantial. The initiative has been championed by Branded – a leading media and entertainment event marketing agency and organizer of the award winning “Matters” event series including Digital, Sport, Social Media and Music. This meeting represented the third gathering to discuss the formation of the ASA; the first being at Sports Matters in Singapore and the second at CASBAA in Hong Kong.

Five pillars of focus had been refined up to this point relating to where the ASA’s emphasis should be. These were:

  • Local Brand Engagement
  • Research
  • Training
  • Advocacy
  • Networking

In addition it was confirmed that the Association will be set up in Singapore and Limited by Guarantee with a small secretariat and ethos of inclusivity.

A draft business plan and budget as well as grant application meetings and forms from the Economic Development Board (Singapore) have been drafted with a consultation copy of the draft business plan for the ASA shared with attendees.

The purpose of the luncheon was to openly discuss the strategy behind each pillar, with a discussion lead assigned to each one.

Local Brand Engagement was led by Vipul Chowla from Yum Brands.

Vipul made everyone work for their lunch! He instigated small workshop sessions to discuss what the ASA could do for local brands. Clear themes included the desire for ASA to:

  • Educate about sponsorship
  • Share experiences/collaborate
  • Grow the sponsorship sector and profile of what the industry can achieve
  • Offer networking opportunities
  • Present a voice for the whole industry
  • Create greater transparency in all commercial aspects
  • Lay down rules of engagement and present a safe environment for sponsors to attend networking events without being sold to

The small groups also discussed what consumer experience local brands were seeking and what the trigger factors are likely to be now and in the future to encourage local brands to get involved in sponsorship.

The group saw a need for a common voice for the industry to ensure credibility, opportunity (through profile raising), best practice and the chance to define future rules of engagement.

The Research and Training section was led by Ben Flint from Asia Sponsorship News, where ASA’s key research aims were detailed as:

  • Raising the level of sophistication of the sponsorship industry in Asia; both buy-side and sell-side and at all levels from junior executive to C-suite
  • Focusing on moving decisions away from the ‘Chairman’s choice’ by providing knowledge and data
  • Playing a key role in evangelizing about the abundance of data and metrics that do exist; reinforcing its credibility and assisting in the distribution of it
  • Publishing insight driven reports that drill into what the commercial forces at play are in the industry
  • Training – increasing the knowledge base, with the ASA having a KPI to train X amount of people in the year and building the training programmes they have access to

As ever with research the debate continued around the need for quantitative and qualitative measures. In this region how do we communicate the emotional and/or social impact that certain partnerships may offer while balancing this with brands in Asia looking at major sponsorships as a part of their marketing mix and not just as a CSR platform.

The Advocacy session was led by Lim Teck Yin, CEO at Singapore Sports Council.

One of the key challenges for the ASA will be engaging at local market level. The idea of local interest groups being developed was discussed as well as how these groups may gather. Key events such as the SEA Games, the WTA Championships, Sports Matters etc. would be likely targets where fringe events could be activated.

In addition the ASA has to look at country chapters, to ensure it does not become too Singapore centric and can add value across the entire region.

In the future, ASA will aim to expand its influence by networking with other associations in Europe and Asia and to inform rights holders in Europe on sponsorship practices in Asia.

In summary, it was clear that potential consumer experience is very important to brands as was the opportunity for the ASA to promote best practice and raise the profile and potential of sponsorship in the region. There was significant support for special interest groups and local chapters while ensuring the Association can ‘walk before it runs!’

The next steps will be the development of the secretariat and the fulfilment of key positions, which will happen early in 2014. This will be driven by the founding members of the Association, a strong mix of industry representatives all committed to the development of the industry in Asia. Within six months of the idea been flagged, the Asian Sponsorship Association will be operational; now that is action…watch this space!

The meeting was attended by:

Jasper Donat, Emma Fung – Branded
Danny Townsend – Repucom
Chris Robb – Spectrum Worldwide
Lisa Johnson – GMR Marketing
Lim Teck Yin – Singapore Sports Council
Jennifer See – F & N
Sandy Monteiro – Universal Music
Vipul Chowla – Yum Brands
Ben Flint – Asia Sponsorship News
Mike Morrison, Madeline Tan – ESPN
Adrian Staiti – World Sports Group
Annabelle Pennefather –Khattar Wong
Marc Davies – Standard Chartered Bank
Weng Leong Ow Yong– OCBC
Elle Todd, Andrew Stott – Olswang
Mark Fischer – UFC
Susana Tsui – PHD
Maja Grimnitz – One Fighting Championship
Ben Hartman – Octagon
Tim Holland – Perform
Richard Atkinson – Asian Tour
Mike Squires, Bob Gattie, Helen Soulsby, Zhang Ting – SRi