Sponsorship’s Gap Is Not Between The Big And The Small

By Jim Andrews Mar 30, 2012

Thanks mostly to Twitter, many of you who were not in attendance at IEG’s annual sponsorship conference last week were able to keep up with some of the main themes and ideas explored by speakers and other participants.

While I plan to take a deep dive into some of those issues in upcoming blog posts, I wanted to share a different takeaway from the event, which was my 25th.

One of the challenges of programming an event for an industry as diverse as sponsorship is ensuring enough relevant content that each of the 1,000-plus attendees leaves feeling they got their money’s worth, no matter what company or organization they represent or where in the world they come from.

In particular, we give a lot of consideration to having sessions that are relevant to small rightsholders as well as large ones, and given the positive feedback we are receiving, it seems like we struck the right balance.

But in the many conversations I had with conference attendees last week, and listening to what they were taking away from various keynote speeches and workshops, it occurred to me that if there is something that truly divides our industry, it’s not the differences between small-scale operations and those with multimillion- and sometimes multibillion-dollar budgets.

The gap is between those who are stuck doing the things they have always done because they can’t see beyond their own narrow world, and those who let go of business-as-usual, who embrace the unfamiliar and who innovate with truly new ideas. There are multinational marketers in the first category and upstart local properties in the second, as well as vice versa.

Those in the latter category were the ones departing the conference with a trove of ideas borrowed from, or more often inspired by, those they met and heard over four days. They were able to see an example of what Coke is doing with social media, Heineken is doing with experiential marketing or ESPN is doing to collaborate with advertisers and scale those great ideas for their nonprofit, local music festival or association.

They also were the sponsors who opened themselves to ideas from nonconventional sources, who engaged with rightsholders they don’t currently work with and who considered possibilities where others saw only unwanted attention.

I’m happy to report that most of the people I met last week were in the open-to-possibilities camp. That bodes extremely well for the future of our field.


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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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