Sponsorship Success Requires Hacker Culture

By Jim Andrews Mar 14, 2016

Sponsorship Success Requires Hacker Culture

This post has a call to action at the end. Two calls actually. If you’re pressed for time, scroll down to the last three paragraphs.

Last week, on my way to Intel to meet with IEG 2016 conference speaker Sandra Lopez (more on her in a moment), I took a detour to visit a friend currently working at Facebook.

My visit did not disappoint in delivering the expected wow factor, from the Frank Gehry-designed new headquarters to a free breakfast buffet that included maple yogurt and smoked gouda-and-chive scones. But my biggest takeaway was a better understanding of hacking, and what it means to be part of a hacker culture.

You can’t avoid the topic of hacking at MPK (Facebook shorthand for its Menlo Park campus). From its official street address—1 Hacker Way—to its Hacker Square plaza, hacking is front and center.

When I commented on this, my friend shared that he had recently published an article about the hacker culture at the company, which I had the opportunity to read on my flight back to Chicago.

The article defines hacker culture as working “without regard for convention and with a focus on solutions that work” and posits that such an approach results in greater innovation, nimbleness, first-mover advantage and ultimately success for organizations that embrace it.

It’s clear that changes in technology and consumer behavior demand that rightsholders and sponsors think and act in ways they never have (“without regard to convention”) to ensure their partnerships can continue to have the desired impact (“solutions that work”).

Doing what’s been done before won’t get you there. Hacking conventional sponsorship tactics and strategies is the only path to success.

That’s the central theme of this year’s IEG conference. Our agenda is focused on brands and properties that are taking advantage of change, doing things differently and seeing great results. Our speaker line-up includes a host of innovative marketers like Sandra Lopez, the catalyst for Intel’s completely new strategy for selecting partners and aligning with target audiences.

Visit to see the other unconventional approaches you will learn if you join us next month in Chicago.

I also encourage you to check out this recently published article from Admap magazine, in which my colleagues Matt Rogan and Sam Yardley discuss what might be the most revolutionary sponsorship hack of all: data.

I urge you to read this piece to see just how much a data-driven approach to fan engagement and brand partnerships can achieve. Matt and other ESP Properties colleagues will be leading some eye-opening sessions on the power of data to deliver unparalleled digital marketing solutions.


IEG conference trends IEG 2016


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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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