Turning sponsorship properties into winning assets

Ian Millner

A hefty sponsorship deal is fast becoming a must-do for the world's biggest brands. There is no getting away from it. The race to slap a badge on the 2012 Olympics has hotted up. There is already speculation about how the UK's 2008 European Football Championships no-show will affect our economy, and consequently the brands that attach themselves to the national game. And last summer we saw sponsorship investments hit record heights, with Lewis Hamilton expected to score £60 million-worth of future deals.

Worldwide spend on sponsorship soared by 11% last year. Traditional marketing and communication outlets felt the pinch as the marketing spend allocated to sponsorship shot up. In fact, by 2010, it's likely that 15% of marketing budgets will be spent in this way. Take sports endorsement alone. In 2006, Nike paid athletes and teams a combined US$476 million: that's 74% more than in 2002. If we look at TV and radio sponsorship, UK spend increased by 76.9% between 2000 and 2004. And, of course, we live in a world where it is increasingly difficult to buy a product that isn't endorsed by an enthusiastic (albeit richly remunerated) celebrity. Oh how we scoffed in the 1990s when Linda Evangelista declared that she would not get out of bed for less than US$10,000 a day. It is unclear who exactly is laughing now, when Paris Hilton charges US$200,000 for a 20-minute appearance, usually dressed as though she's still in bed.