LONDON: Investment in TV sponsorship has grown by over 47% in the past ten years, but deals are sometimes forged as last-minute buys or under the premise of ‘cheaper’ airtime, an approach which fails to appreciate just how sponsorship affects brand health.

Writing in the current issue of Admap, Nicole Greenfield-Smith, head of research at Thinkbox, observes that TV sponsorship does not work in the same way as spot advertising.

“Yes, it’s an embedded part of the TV experience, but that is where the similarities end. The sentiment towards TV sponsorship is distinct from that towards spot advertising,” she writes.

What is acceptable in an ad break, for example, may seem less acceptable to the viewer when it’s woven around a programme. “Brands need to be sensitive to the programme content,” Greenfield-Smith advises. “If a drama ends on a tense or emotional moment, care needs to be taken over the bumper.”

The true power of sponsorship, she suggests, lies in the strength of association, citing research showing that viewers of sponsored TV programmes were more likely to have more positive views of the sponsoring brands (measured through the speed and strength of their implicit response) than a demographically matched sample who didn't watch the same programme.

“The attributes of the programme the brand chooses to sponsor will inevitably rub off on the brand, so it’s crucial to take the time to get it right,” says Greenfield-Smith.

Not only that, but wherever possible, the brand should drive home the connection between the programme and brand through the creative.

In that context, advertisers should resist the temptation to ‘badge’ by using TV sponsorship as a billboard and focus instead on integrating the sponsorship idents across the different elements of a campaign. “The partnership will work harder and faster and be better received by the programme audience.”

Sponsorship also works to boost brand metrics, including awareness, consideration, word-of-mouth and warmth. Keep branding strong with the use of language such as ‘proudly sponsors’, is Greenfield-Smith’s advice.

It’s not a quick fix, however, hence the caution against grabbing it as cheap airtime. Advertisers need to play the long game – and will reap the benefits, as brand health decays at a far slower rate than simple ad awareness.

Sourced from Admap