While the sponsors attached to FIFA haven’t all been completely running for the hills in light of the latest scandal, it’s certainly presented an interesting time for communications managers in those businesses.
Brand association and strategic sponsorship is a hugely complex issue for any corporate to consider.
On the one hand, there’s usually the opportunity for significant exposure to a target audience, or to a reach far beyond that which the brand in question has been able to deliver on its own.
But with the potential benefit, comes risk too.
Marketeers have to weigh up those implications with meticulous consideration before entering full and final negotiations.
For example, what if the aligned brand should face criminal allegations? What if there’s a product recall and public outcry?
What if a personality associated with the brand is found to be at fault or in a position of controversy?
Whether you’re looking to attach your company to sponsorship of a local sports team, a celebrity, a national campaign or a much respected charity, there are always areas to consider before signing the marketing equivalent of the marital papers.
Here’s five tips around making sponsorship and association work well for your brand.
Check the cultural messaging fits:
Even your most loyal customers will be cynical about associations and sponsorships which don’t appear to have relevance with your brand. Sure, look for opportunities to increase exposure, but make sure it’s aligning you with someone /something where the story backdrop feels appropriate and worthwhile.
Know what success looks like:
Don’t go into a sponsorship or partnership without a crystal clear understanding around what you want to gain and what the other party does too. The failure of deals can be really costly, so go into it with your eyes open and ensure you have the equivalent of a ‘prenup’ between parties, exploring what the KPIs are for both.
Stay active and observant:
One of the biggest mistakes you can make once embarking on association and sponsor deals is to think your job is largely done after signing the paperwork. Keep abreast of the activity and engagements of the business / individual or brand with which you have linked. Spot opportunities for further involvement, and raise flags where you’re uncomfortable with incidences that appear to take you ‘off message’ from the original plan.
Know when it’s time to walk away:
As we’ve seen with the FIFA storm, even a huge international brand could alienate or antagonise its sponsors on the back of significant developments. Have a clear strategy in your ‘in case of emergency’ drawer, and know when it’s time to pull in the communications experts, convey your stance and exit the union.
Stand firm with your own message:
Whether or not your in a sponsorship or associated deal, it’s simply no excuse to let your own messaging slip or forget what’s at the core of your own culture. Don’t become a puppet to the other brand, or parrot their cultural voice rather than maintain your own.
The idea is to work with brands and businesses which are collectively stronger. Keep that in mind and your collaboration has a high chance of success.
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