The global view

Over the past few years, the sponsorship market has changed significantly: Sponsorship is now considered a key component of the communication mix, along with direct marketing, PR, print advertising, sampling, merchandising, promotion and e-marketing.
In December 2001, global sponsorship solution provider SponsorClick published Sponsorship 2002: Market Analysis, the first sponsorship study to focus on the global market, to get a closer look at how this area is evolving.

Over the past few years, the sponsorship market has changed significantly: Sponsorship is now considered a key component of the communication mix, along with direct marketing, PR, print advertising, sampling, merchandising, promotion and e-marketing.

In December 2001, global sponsorship solution provider SponsorClick published Sponsorship 2002: Market Analysis, the first sponsorship study to focus on the global market, to get a closer look at how this area is evolving.

One of the most interesting findings of the study deals with how key sponsorship decisions are made.

Not too long ago, sponsorship decisions were seen as highly arbitrary, depending more on the interests and whims of upper management than any sound marketing strategy. This is changing, as suggested by a recent statement from Sergio Zyman, former chief marketing officer at Coca-Cola: ‘You go and you buy a sponsorship in a golf tournament because you like golf, not because it builds your brand…. That’s what happened in the past, and now it’s starting to be challenged very aggressively.’

Sponsorship is increasingly seen as a ‘normal’ investment (comparable to advertising), which needs to yield a real return. CEOs and marketing managers are now under pressure from shareholders to justify their sponsorship decisions as ‘value creation.’ Recently, for example, an individual investor took the floor at a major fast-moving consumer goods company shareholder meeting to ask why ‘his’ company had sponsored a certain event.

Because of this new attitude, decision-making is becoming more centralized, often at an international level, in order to improve the consistency and efficiency of sponsorship investments (see Exhibit A). The belief is that there is a clear trend towards centralization of sponsorship decision-making, which will increasingly intensify as the industry continues to professionalize.

Managers believe that a centralized decision-making process helps make better investments. This phenomenon has often been described during SponsorClick’s meetings with marketing and sponsorship managers both in Europe and in the U.S.

Another interesting finding is that sponsorship is starting to catch up with advertising in terms of research, decision-making tools, and measurement of impact. While it is still a small percentage of the global ad spend, the sponsorship process is becoming clearer to marketers, and they are relying more heavily on sponsorship as a communication channel (Exhibit B).

Other findings include a global trend that will see Europe’s percentage of the global sponsorship spend increase until it catches up to the U.S. (Exhibit C).

This first general study will be followed by more targeted ones, for example by domain or by geographical zone. SponsorClick is also in the process of developing a global research department, to fill a crucial knowledge gap and support this rapidly evolving marketing tool.

Based in New York, N.Y., Rachael Mark is communications manager at online global sponsorship solutions service SponsorClick. For more information, visit www.sponsorclick.com.