Issue is how to assess return on investment

Advertiser demand continues to accelerateSponsorship is big business - a projected $3.7 billion business in North America.Earlier this month, there was a higher-than-expected level of response to ctv's sponsorship packages for the 1994 Winter Olympic Games telecasts.This response comes at a...

Advertiser demand continues to accelerate

Sponsorship is big business – a projected $3.7 billion business in North America.

Earlier this month, there was a higher-than-expected level of response to ctv’s sponsorship packages for the 1994 Winter Olympic Games telecasts.

This response comes at a time when advertisers are reluctant to commit to the long term.

Advertiser demand for customized features and other value-added components, designed to rise above the competitive clutter, continues to accelerate.

Also, as public pursestrings and private funding sources continue to dry up, there is a push by broadcasters and event promoters for more so-called corporate partnership opportunities.

All are signs that tv sponsorships and whatever else is lumped into that value-added grab bag are alive and well.

Not the issue

The issue is not ‘What is it going to take before clients and media practitioners consider sponsorship and other value-added programs as a mainstream media tool?’

They are already mainstream tools.

Nor is it a question of how advertisers and media structure themselves to look beyond buying straight numbers.

The core issue behind sponsorship and other value-added opportunities for us and our clients is simple: how can we accurately assess the return on investment versus all other marketing options?

What is at issue for the broadcaster is how it can (with or without event promoters) present the tv opportunity to the appropriate audience in a manner which complements corporate or brand marketing and communication objectives and demonstrates that real sales opportunities or consumer response will be created.

Sports or entertainment sponsorships can be highly effective and targetted forums for showcasing commercial messages.

Broadcasters excel at selling this simplest form of tv sponsorship – commercial time with billboards, or a customized program feature with a production value attached.

Where tv sponsorship falls short is in its inability to connect the telecast with the advertiser and its customers.

And it is precisely in the arena of total sponsorship integration that all parties will reap the greatest returns.

From ground up

It is when the sponsorship opportunity makes sense from the ground up that we can marshall the greatest support for tv coverage, e.g., the Royal Bank and figure skating.

For these clients, the tv buy is not simply another media buy with a sprinkling of billboards.

tv coverage becomes an integral part of the client’s total marketing program leveraging the commercial time with the event and its product.

Most tv ‘sponsorship’ opportunities presented to us and our advertiser are solutions looking for a problem.

The same ‘unique’ sponsorship proposal is often presented to an oil company, car maker, financial institution, brewery and airline – identical in all aspects except for the price tag attached by the broadcaster to guarantee category exclusivity by sector.

Diverse needs

Surely the needs of such diverse advertisers cannot all be met by the same ‘unique’ telecast?

Another problem we often encounter when presented with tv sponsorship opportunities is the absence of a long-term focus by the seller.

A brand’s positioning and media posture is a long-term proposition.

Similarly, with the exception of ambush marketing and tactical efforts, a sponsorship platform is generally not viewed as a one-time-only purchase.

The advertiser is usually looking for a long-term relationship which is needed to leverage its event involvement and its learning and to maximize pay-out.

Customized features, backed by relevant creative, have proven to be effective in driving brand awareness and generating sales (i