Selling Multi-Brand Sponsorship: The Cheat Sheet

A while back, I stumbled across a post by Oxfam, showcasing the best performers in their Behind the Brands Scorecard. That is, in and of itself, really interesting and should be read, but they also created an immensely useful infographic for understanding what companies own what brands in the consumer foods space.

This made me want to dig up more on brand families, and even for someone that tries to keep abrest of major brand moves, there were a lot of family members that were news to me.

Below are infographics around food conglomerates, beauty companies, and a link to a list of brands owned by the five biggest brewing conglomerates. Keeping in mind that these things change, so there may be a few updates, I’ve also detailed how you can use this information to formulate multi-brand sponsorship offers.

Food conglomerates

You’ll see that ten giant companies – which Oxfam estimated cumulatively sell well over US $1.1 billion a day – own almost every major food brand we see in our grocery stores. The infographic is from 2013, and numbers and brands may be a little out of date, but would still be reasonably close to the current situation. You can click the image for a larger version.


To read the whole fascinating article, “10 everyday food brands – and the few companies that own them”, and see a much larger version of this great infographic, just follow this link to the article on Oxfam.

Beauty conglomerates

Along the same lines as food brands, beauty brands have also consolidated into the hands of just a few companies. The infographic below is from a Business Insider article from 2017-2018, showing how 182 brands are owned by just seven companies.



Brewing conglomerates

While it doesn’t have an infographic, this article details the major brands owned by the five biggest brewing conglomerates.

How you can use these infographics

When I see these charts and brand lists, all I can think of is all the ways rightsholders could use this information to do their jobs better. Here are a few that came to mind…

Identify (some) related brands

These charts gives you a huge, running start on understanding the depth and breadth of these companies’ brand portfolios. But please be advised that some of these companies have brands and entire divisions that aren’t represented at all. For instance, Unilever has a whole raft of personal care and home care products that aren’t on the list (here’s a link to all of them). Brewing conglomerates often own soft drink, water, and spirits brands, as well. So don’t take the above information as gospel, but as an indicator of scope, and where to look for more information.

Get a sense of how related they are

This is a tricky one. Just because General Mills owns dozens of brands doesn’t mean that they are automatically related to each other. The various divisions – indicated by the sub-groupings – may have almost nothing to do with each other, particularly in big markets. Smaller markets probably run with leaner teams – or even just one team – and that often leads to more collaboration between those teams.

If you want sell to multiple brands owned by one company, but in different divisions, they could be sold together or as totally separate deals. The only way to know is to be upfront when approaching them. You could say, “We think Lipton is the perfect match for this, but we would also like to approach Ben & Jerry’s in the ice cream category. Should we craft a proposal incorporating both, or would Unilever consider that as two different sponsorships?”

Give you a running start to know who to contact

If you’re going to approach a company for multi-brand sponsorship within one brand group (recommended), you need to find a marketing decision-maker who works across the group. That is likely to be something like, “Group Brand Manager – Chocolate” or “VP Marketing – Cereals” or “Group Marketing Director – Frozen”. In other words, you’re looking for either a major title (eg, Vice President) or the word “Group”, followed by a description of the category. That might help you with your Google/LinkedIn search for your best contact.

Understand potential exclusivity issues

This is a trick that some companies try. They say they’re only sponsoring with one brand, so should only be paying for the benefits they’ve got, but they define their exclusivity across a big swath of their brand portfolio. This allows them to block their competitors, but it stops you from selling other categories. For instance, let’s say you have a breakfast category to sell, as well as a snack food. You may approach a Kellogg’s breakfast cereal brand, but you should know that they also own a range of snack foods. What you don’t want to do is sell exclusivity to Kellogg’s across other categories, if they’re only taking up one category of sponsorship.

This isn’t something you should necessarily be pro-active about, but do be vigilant. If you are only pursuing one category, ensure your proposal, and all subsequent communications right up to the contract, very clearly spell out the degree of category exclusivity they are getting. If they try to extend that, you can offer to sell them another sponsorship for one of their brands in that category, or tell them that you will need to increase the price to make up for the revenues you can’t pursue. If they start throwing their weight around, you’ve got a Sponzilla on your hands and you should think very carefully about whether you want to do business with them.

Get your creative juices going

Maybe you’ll identify some potential multi-brand sponsorships within these charts, and maybe you won’t. But what it should do is put you in the right headspace to do it. Instead of just thinking about one, obvious brand that might sponsor your category, do a quick search and find out…

  • Who owns that brand
  • What other brands they own
  • How they divide those brands into categories

Need more assistance?

For all you need to know about sponsorship sales and servicing, you may want to get a copy of The Sponsorship Seeker’s Toolkit 4th Edition. You may also be interested in my white papers,  “Last Generation Sponsorship Redux” and “Disruptive Sponsorship: Like Disruptive Marketing, Only Better“.

If you need additional assistance, I offer sponsorship consulting and strategy sessions, sponsorship training, and sponsorship coaching. I also offer a comprehensive sponsorship capacity-building service for large, diverse, and decentralised organisations.

Please feel free to drop me a line to discuss.

Please note, I do not offer a sponsorship broker service, and can’t sell sponsorship on your behalf. You may find someone appropriate on my sponsorship broker registry.

© Kim Skildum-Reid. All rights reserved. To enquire about republishing or distribution, please see the blog and white paper reprints page.

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