This topic was tweeted and retweeted ad infinitum on the #sponsorship tag today. German newspaper, Die Tageszeitung, has embarked on a two-week trial of blurring all sponsor logos on sporting photographs. While I can’t say I’m a big fan of revising reality, our industry already does that with all of the electronically inserted signage on so many of our sports, so we can’t be all that shocked.
So far, it has been treated as news, with little opinion attached, except one article that labels it “scary stuff”. From a big picture perspective, I disagree.
On one hand, the newspaper in question is apparently quite left-wing and this may be a case of political correctness gone mad. On the other hand, if this somehow became a broader trend, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for our industry. For a bit more background, see here.
Sponsorship, as with all marketing, is really about only two objectives: Changing people’s behaviours and changing people’s perceptions. The implication that logo exposure contributes to either of these things has been roundly debunked in study after study, going back twenty years.
Smart sponsors have taken that on board and create great leverage programs that focus on connecting their brands with the target markets, aligning their brands with the target markets, and adding value to their relationships with target markets, with the overall mission being to move closer to being the natural choice for that target market.
Unfortunately – whether through ignorance or corporate egomania – some sponsors hold stalwartly to the view that logo exposure is actually getting them something of meaning. This is actually very convenient for them, as it is easy to measure and they can absolve themselves of any responsibility to leverage – to actually do something meaningful – with a sponsorship. It’s too bad that unleveraged sponsorships are a total waste of money, and getting some kind of media equivalency figure is about as effective as if you tried to measure results with a ruler.
If every media organisation in the world decided to go down this track, it would certainly be a big change, but it wouldn’t be a disaster. Olympic sponsors don’t get any logo exposure, and somehow they muddle through!
Sponsors would stop quibbling about how big their logos are and whether their logos “flare” on television, and would be forced to find other – far more meaningful – ways to achieve their objectives. And halleluiah to that.
Sponsorship seekers would be forced to downplay the logo exposure aspects of their properties – just as best practice sponsees do now – and concentrate on how their sponsors and potential sponsors can use the sponsorships. They would stop positioning themselves as commodities and start positioning themselves as unique and valuable conduits between sponsors and their target markets. (For more on that, you may want to download “Last Generation Sponsorship”.)
Honestly, if sponsorship sophistication suddenly skyrocketed off the learning curve and we were all forced to look at sponsorship in a more strategic way, the resulting improvement in the results and accountability in our industry would be nothing short of staggering. Sponsorship would, once and for all, stop being a numbers game, and start being the creative, strategic, and unparalleled marketing medium that the best players already know it is.
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