How sponsors and rights holders are harnessing the power of content

Posted by in Commercial, Digital, Entertainment, Media, Paul Childley, Sponsorship

Content is king for both rights holders and sponsors – ensure you have the right team in place to capitalise on the boom, says SRi’s Paul Chidley.

Sponsorship activation in 2017 is certain to place a greater focus on content than ever before. With rights holders and sponsors looking for partnerships that can amplify their brands, achieve objectives, and deliver a measurable return on investment, it’s never been more critical to ensure that internal teams are fit for purpose.

That the insatiable appetite of consumers for more and more content shows no sign of slowing should come as little surprise. Readers would be hard-pressed to remember a well-executed sponsorship activation in the past 12 months that didn’t lean heavily on video content to disseminate key messages and build brand affinity.

The challenge for rights holders and sponsors of all shapes and sizes in the year ahead is to acknowledge that content reigns supreme, and move quickly to ensure they have the key staff in place to take full advantage of the new landscape.

Content teams must be fleet of foot and adaptable. When Manchester United announced they had signed French superstar Paul Pogba this summer, the club – alongside main sponsor Adidas – rolled out a ground-breaking video within 24 hours. How many rights holders are confident that their current teams could generate a revolutionary idea, film it with Hollywood production standards, and release it to global acclaim in a single day?

Not only did the Pogba video reinforce the club’s desired messaging that they had captured one of the best players on the planet, and grow the fanbase, it undoubtedly helped Adidas showcase their new kit and boots.

Considering Adidas agreed to give Manchester United £750m in sponsorship fees, the club’s assistance with sponsorship activation by making Pogba available, and likely delaying the announcement to allow for content production, would have gone down very well in Bavaria and made Manchester United an even more attractive sponsorship target in the future.

Sponsors too are driving the content explosion. The Olympics can be tricky for sponsors but Samsung activated their worldwide IOC partnership in the UK to great effect with their School of Rio web series. Rather than a one-off piece of quick fire content that goes viral, Samsung clearly set out to build a sustained content campaign and delivered a stunning success as a famous comedian was put through his paces in various sports by British Olympic heroes.

Racking up millions of views certainly would have been felt in an uptick of brand awareness and sales for Samsung, and provided the British Olympic Association with a recurring campaign that got the nation excited about the Rio Olympics.

Emirates Airlines has been talked about in sponsorship circles as somewhat of a pariah that stubbornly sticks to an ‘old’ model of partnerships: spending vast sums to attach their name to everything from stadium naming rights to sailboats, but rarely if ever activating their sponsorships.

Yet even Emirates can’t ignore the content rush. Principal sponsors of Benfica football club in Portugal, the airline released an innovative pre-match ‘safety video’ that was covered in the worldwide media and is closing in on three million views on the sponsors’ YouTube page alone. Similar pieces of content helped activate sponsorships in many sports from baseball to tennis.

Yet for every blockbuster activation like Adidas’ Pogba video and Samsung’s School of Rio series, there are countless examples of successful uses of content that provided huge benefit to sponsors and rights holders alike without breaking the bank.

Middlesex County Cricket Club sponsor Brooks MacDonald, an investment management group, was faced with a challenge shared by smaller sponsors the world over – how to join the great content race with limited internal resources?

Utilising an external agency to produce and distribute video content, Brooks MacDonald saw their social media following increase 44 per cent in three days, all of whom support cricket and Middlesex.

Whether your business can produce or distribute content in-house or not, it should remain a central focus for both rights holders and sponsors alike.

Strategic direction will need to be given to internal teams or agencies to ensure the full value of a sponsorship is gained.

Having the key personnel in place to devise and deliver that strategic guidance will be essential for the year ahead.

Is your team ready?

Paul Chidley is responsible for managing the UK contingency team, Sports Recruitment International, based in London. His team specialises in sourcing and placing candidates into graduate to mid-level roles across sales, marketing, digital, broadcast, PR, events, hospitality, sporting goods and operations functions.

To have a confidential chat about how Paul’s team can help attract the right talent to allow your organisation to succeed, please contact Paul on