No More Growth By Default: Ad Guru’s Advice Also Rings True For Sponsorship Marketers

By Jim Andrews Apr 20, 2017

No More Growth By Default: Ad Guru’s Advice Also Rings True For Sponsorship Marketers

When Irwin Gotlieb talks, the ad industry listens. The global chairman of WPP’s GroupM, the world’s largest media investment group, yields considerable buying power and influence, as the company he oversees is responsible for placing roughly a third of all media advertising. (It is also the parent organization of ESP Properties and IEG.)

Two of Irwin’s recent comments regarding television advertising are entirely relevant and of equal importance to rightsholders in sports, entertainment and other areas.

The first was a challenge to the television industry: “Decades of consistent growth limited the need for huge levels of innovation. Growth doesn’t happen by default anymore, so it really is time to become innovative.”

What is true for broadcasters and the advertising opportunities they have traditionally offered is also on target for sponsorship properties. For too long, many rightsholders have operated under the assumption that a combination of new-to-the-party corporate partners and increased inventory—which essentially equated to more places to slap sponsor names and logos—was all that was necessary to drive annual revenue growth. Those days are long gone.

Innovation, in the form of understanding, engaging and growing audiences in order to create real value for them and for corporate and other partners is the only path to sustainable revenue growth for rightsholders.

Irwin’s second comment was not a challenge, but an important reminder. “You can always save money and maximize return on investment in advertising if you refine your target audience and spend money on the lowest hanging fruit—those consumers who represent your best opportunity for driving sales. But if brands take money away from broad awareness marketing at the ‘top of the funnel’ to do this, they will fail to replenish that low-hanging fruit and their market share will shrink.”

Although this may appear to contradict focusing on innovative ideas such as data-driven personalized marketing, these remarks simply recognize that brands need to have marketing efforts aimed at all points of the purchase funnel. A concentration on any one area will ultimately be detrimental.

From a sponsorship sales and servicing prospective, properties should do everything they can to discover where a sponsor’s or prospect’s marketing plan may have weak spots, i.e., areas of opportunity, along the funnel and tailor benefits and activation ideas accordingly.


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Jim Andrews

About the Author

A 30-year sponsorship industry veteran, Jim is responsible for developing and sharing thought-leadership content based on ESP Properties’ groundbreaking work in the areas of sponsorship strategy, valuation, measurement, digital content, data-driven marketing and fan engagement.

In addition to identifying key trends and delivering his unique insights into the critical issues facing rightsholders and their commercial partners, Jim is the chairman of the Annual Sponsorship Conference, responsible for the program and speakers, as well as hosting and delivering the event’s opening address. He also is responsible for the company’s annual report and forecast of overall sponsorship spending, as well as its compilation of biggest spending companies and annual industry surveys.

A frequent media commentator and guest, Jim has been a featured speaker at hundreds of sports, entertainment and marketing conferences around the world.



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