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Corporate Sponsorships Reimagined

April 20, 2017 by Bjoern Ganzhorn, Head of Global Sponsorships at SAP 1

When I say the words corporate sponsorship, what do you think of? Logo placements. Official status. Fancy private events.

These are the types of things that have long defined corporate sponsorship programs; essentially, I give your company a bunch of money and in return you display my logo, feature my name in a gala program, and sing my praises in public. It’s pretty straightforward—but frankly uninspiring.

These are the methods of the past. Today’s fast-changing, technology-enabled marketing and consumer landscapes demand a new, more-dynamic model of corporate sponsorship.

Call it “sponsorship 2.0.” In this new paradigm, richer collaboration amplifies impact and partnerships go beyond pay-for-placement. So what does it look like? Sponsorship 2.0 partnerships are:

Authentic

Sponsor partners need to actually use the products and services they promote. Talking points aren’t enough—real, anecdotal experience is key. If there’s no product showcase, then there’s no business case. The credibility of a partnership also hinges on authenticity. How often do we see celebrities on television promoting a product, and then doubt that the celebrity actually uses that product? Exactly! Authenticity breeds credibility, credibility breeds trust, and a partnership based on trust yields the most for both parties.

Global, Yet Local

The partnership needs to have global resonance, yielding compelling, brand-driven stories that are relatable in any market. This leads to greater message scale, impact, and more consistent benefits for the partnership.

Sustainable

Sponsorships can be an expensive marketing and sales tool. So you want to make sure that you’re getting your money’s worth. The returns of a simple pay-for-placement exchange are hard to justify. The real way to move the needle and remain sustainable is to have partnerships that are versatile, that cover points 1 and 2, opening additional avenues for revenue generation.

At SAP, we’ve put sponsorship 2.0 into action with a threefold approach to how we engage our sponsor partners in sports and entertainment. We’ve experienced stronger relationships and greater returns when our engagement is multifaceted. Apart from pursuing sports and entertainment partners who are authentic, global, diverse, and sustainable, we embed our technology with our partners at three levels:

 

By engaging dynamically with our sponsor partners in sports and entertainment, we not only help them run better on the field, in the stands, and in the front office, but we also enable them to more intimately experience SAP, see the value of our products and services, and then share the SAP story authentically. That’s a more inspiring dynamic than simple logo placement! It’s a collaborative effort, and one that advances SAP’s mission to help the world run better and improve people’s lives.

Generally speaking, sponsorships are not being all they can be. They are not making the impact they are capable of and they are not generating the mutually beneficial returns they should. The first set of three points outlined above represent a foundation for Sponsorship 2.0, but they are certainly not exhaustive. And yes, there is still a place for world-class, white-glove events.

Over the next few weeks, you’ll hear directly from some of our sponsor partners, as they speak to the successes of our relationships, through their eyes. It doesn’t get more authentic than that.

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Bjoern Ganzhorn is head of Global Sponsorships at SAP

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