Although they may be rife with logistical challenges, joint sponsorship sales alliances are gaining momentum.

Sports teams, film festivals, bowl games and other types of properties are increasingly aligning with similarly positioned properties to access new sponsors, tap national marketing budgets and draw new fans.

The partnerships benefit sponsors by providing one-stop shopping for regional, national and/or international marketing platforms that otherwise would have to be structured through a patchwork of individual deals.

In one of the industry’s most recent cross-sales initiatives, Barclays Premier League Chelsea F.C. has partnered with the Sauber Formula One team to cross-promote their brands and secure new sponsors.

The car this year has sported Chelsea’s “True Blue” and “Out of the Blue” taglines at several races, while the soccer team has touted the Sauber logo at home matches.

“A partnership like this between Formula One and football has never existed before in this form, yet there are numerous commonalities and possible synergies,” said Sauber chief executive Monisha Kaltenborn in a statement earlier this year.

The two properties are close to signing their first joint sponsor, according to published reports.

Other properties are joining Chelsea and Sauber in joint sales efforts. The Football Bowl Assn. earlier this year launched a national sponsorship platform around post-season college football, while a group of film festivals is attempting to create a governing body to collaborate on sponsorship and best practices.

The Pros and Cons Of Joint Sales Initiatives
Advantages to Properties Disadvantages to Properties
Gain additional reach Determining how revenue will be shared
Access new partners & categories Ensuring consistent activation
Tap national marketing budgets Need for dedicated staffer to sell/manage deals
Reach new fans Accessing benefits/open categories across multiple properties
Gain operational efficiencies Reconciling diverse sponsorship policies

Many Challenges, Many Opportunities
While joint sales efforts make sense on paper, they present a multitude of challenges. Those include determining how revenue will be shared to ensuring partners have a consistent presence across multiple properties.

“In principle joint sales seem like a good idea, but in reality it becomes difficult. There are lots of moving pieces, which makes it a challenge,” said Brandon Lowitz, senior vice president and co-head of sponsorship development with the Tribeca Film Festival.

Indeed, many joint sales efforts have gone by the wayside over the years. Those include national programs spearheaded by aquariums, science museums, orchestras and other types of properties.

On the flip side, those who have been involved in recent joint sales efforts—primarily between two or three properties—have positive things to say.

“Would I recommend joint sales efforts? Absolutely. There are a lot of opportunities and synergies that can be borne out of the efforts,” said Chris Parker, executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer with the NHL Nashville Predators.

The NHL team in 2009 partnered with Baker Curb Racing, a team that fielded a car in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The team closed shop in 2011.

The two teams used the partnership to offer packages that included inventory from both organizations. The Predators received hospitality for sponsors and season ticket holders at races in Tennessee and Kentucky, while Baker Curb gained tickets and other assets in Bridgestone Arena.  

Sponsors included Hunt Brothers Pizza, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Louisiana-Pacific Corp.’s LP Building Products unit.

In addition to gaining new sponsors and adding value to existing partnerships, Parker points to another benefit: accessing new fans.

“In our location, tying in NASCAR was a tremendous benefit. Many people that we’re trying to reach aren’t sold on hockey, but they are NASCAR fans.”

Other properties also have found success with joint sales efforts.

For example, the National Aquarium in 2010 partnered with the Los Angeles Zoo after gaining interest from the Costa Rica Tourism Board as a potential sponsor. The tourism agency was interested in a sponsorship, but wanted more exposure than what the National Aquarium had to offer.

As a result, the aquarium reached out to the Los Angeles Zoo on a joint marketing partnership that afforded exposure at both properties. The tourism board activated the ties with a sweepstakes at each property that dangled a family trip to Costa Rica accompanied by a conservation expert.

“We would absolutely enter into other partnership arrangements. They give us the opportunity to acquire sponsors that seek greater geographic reach and expand our pool of sponsors,” said Brian Levitz, director of corporate giving and sponsorships with the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn.

In a different twist, the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival in 2003 secured a partnership with TD Canada Trust by creating a national platform with nine other jazz festivals.

“TD Canada Trust liked the idea of sponsoring the jazz festival, but they needed a national platform. We approached nine other festivals—all totally independent—and got them to agree to allow us to bundle them together and sell them as one opportunity,” said Hugh Wakeham, president of Wakeham & Associates Marketing, a sponsorship sales agency.

The sales vet secured several secondary sponsorships across the festivals, added Wakeham, noting that revenue was allocated to each festival according to the percentage of total value they offered each sponsor.