The winning formula: eight factors that UKSA judges look for when selecting finalists for the TV Sponsorship category

There was a time when television sponsorships were something of a rarity – occasional interruptions in broadcast schedules that leaned heavily on spot ads. These days they are much more ubiquitous. As the impact of spot ads has declined, and regulations around TV sponsorship have been relaxed, the medium has become a potent and widely-used weapon in the marketer’s armoury.In part, this is because brands that sign up for TV sponsorships benefit from an affinity with their companion show (or programming strand in some cases). While it’s important not to over-exaggerate this point (because some sponsorships are just glorified media buys), the evidence from bodies like Thinkbox suggests audiences are still predisposed to think positively about brands that support their favourite shows.

There are also other factors at play. In an era of ad skipping, audiences often use sponsorship credits as the cue to re-enter shows after ad breaks. The importance of this proximity to programming has been amplified in recent years by the fact that there is often no clear junction between editorial content and advertising anymore.

No less important is the fact that TV sponsorship has developed into a sophisticated marketing platform that reaches audience via multiple touchpoints. These days, any sponsorship worth its salt is going to include activity in-store and across social media. Where conditions allow, there is also likely to be a product placement component.

From the perspective of the UK Sponsorship Awards, increased demand for TV Sponsorship is clearly a positive development – because it means there are many more potential candidates for the relevant category. But this increase in volume also presents a challenge for judges. Keep reading here

UKSA launches expanded Rights Holder Awards section for 2024: celebrating the role of arts venues, media owners and sports rights holders

The UK Sponsorship Awards organising team is revamping its Rights Holder Awards segment in a move that will celebrate the massive contribution that venues, clubs and media owners make towards the health and dynamism of the sponsorship industry. Launched to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the UK Sponsorship Awards in 2024, there will be three rights holders awards up for grabs. If this new track of awards gains traction, the rights holder segment will be further expanded in 2025.

The three awards on offer are for: Arts Rights Holder, Media Rights Holder and Sports Rights Holder. Unlike the majority of UKSA’s awards, these three new categories will not focus on the strength of a single campaign. Instead, they will look at the success of organisations as facilitators of sponsorship across the entire year.

Commenting, UKSA organiser Rosemary Sarginson said: “Over the years, the UK Sponsorship Awards has established itself as the benchmark by which the industry measures the creativity and effectiveness of individual sponsorship campaigns. But many organisations are doing great work day in day out without ever having a single ‘hero’ campaign that they can point to. Sometimes, in addition, there are commercial and political sensitivities internally that make it difficult for them to highlight the success of a particular sponsorship programme. This new set of awards rectifies that fact – by inviting rights holders to showcase their capabilities in the round.”  READ ON HERE

What makes a perfect naming rights partnership? Ten factors to consider 

Stadium and venue naming rights continues to be one of the most dynamic segments of the sponsorship business. Like everything, it suffered a setback during Covid-19, when sports and cultural arenas stood empty for months. But the sector has bounced back strongly since. Spotify’s partnership with Barcelona’s Nou Camp, M&T Bank’s renewal with NFL’s Baltimore Ravens and Porsche’s new alliance with Stuttgart stadium in Germany underline both the dynamism of the sector – and its appeal to a wide pool of brands. At the same time, Ovo Energy’s deal with Wembley Arena shows that it’s not only highly-prized sports stadia that are securing attractive naming rights deals – but also venues more closely associated with music and entertainment.

The price-tag on naming rights deals varies hugely – and is inevitably arrived at through a process of intense commercial negotiations. But what are the kind of factors that should be taken into account when considering naming rights as an option? Below are 10 factors that are classic ingredients in a successful naming rights deal.

Brand exposure/affinity: A key rationale for signing a naming rights deal is brand exposure – which explains why there is a premium on top-flight sports stadia. A core reason why Spotify was willing to spend €280m on its Nou Camp deal is that Barcelona is a successful club that takes part in elite events such as La Liga and the UEFA Champions League. This ensures the music platform is pretty much guaranteed a level of global exposure. While sponsorship practitioners can be sceptical about the value of ‘exposure’, there’s no question that the billboard component of naming rights is why elite soccer and NFL bag the biggest deals. It will be interesting to see if failure to qualify for the UCL this term will impact on the value of Tottenham Hotspur’s proposed naming rights deal, which has been in the offing for some time. Read on 

Grass Roots Sports Sponsorship:  six components of a game-changing campaign 

It’s no surprise that huge money exchanges hands for elite sports sponsorships. The ability to connect with large passionate audiences via the world’s best teams, events and athletes is a compelling proposition for brands and businesses. You only have to look at the buzz around Lionel Messi’s move to Inter Miami to get the idea. 

But it’s short-sighted to think that elite level activation is enough on its own. True engagement with fans also requires investment at the grass roots level. At a time when oil money is rewriting the rules of professional sport and events like Wimbledon have become the playground of Hollywood stars and Royal families, elite events are at risk of becoming detached from reality. Today, as the divide between rich and poor grows, the ability to touch communities directly has never been more important for brands.

The good news for brands is that most sports rights holder recognise the risk of becoming alienated from their broader fan-base. Look across the major sporting disciplines and you’ll typically find programmes and activities designed to reach out to the many millions who are unlikely to ever visit an elite event in person.  Read on here..

UK Sponsorship Awards - Class of 2023:  Six takeaways that signpost the industry’s direction of travel

The 2023 UK Sponsorship Awards took place at the end of March at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square. Over 450 executives from across the sector were present to see an impressive range of brands, agencies and rights holders take home awards.

Now that the dust has settled on the 2023 edition and preparations are underway for 2024, UKSA’s 30th Anniversary, we decided it would be a good time to identify a few of the headline trends that were evident in this year’s selection of winners and finalists. So here are six thought-provoking takeaways from this year’s cohort:

Female-focused campaigns capture the headlines: The UKSA Sponsorship of the Year went to Heineken’s ‘cheers to all fans’, entered by M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment. This was one of several winners and finalists focused on female empowerment through sport. O2’s Wear the Rose and McDonald’s Fun Football centred on efforts to close the gender gap, increase female participation and create a sustainable infrastructure for female talent. Other impressive female-focused campaigns were entered by Nationwide and Visa. Female sport is securing much more coverage these days, and there is growing excitement for this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia & New Zealand – so this story will run and run.

Elite clubs diversify partnerships: UKSA 2023 was graced by the presence of several leading soccer clubs: namely Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Everton, Brighton & Hove Albion, Southampton and Reading. Interestingly, none came to the awards with betting sponsorships. Instead, there are clear signs that clubs are looking at a) expanding their range of brand partnerships and b) drilling down deeper into community-related initiatives. Partners like Xylem, Quorn, Kodansha, Three, Amex, Christopher Ward, Select Car Leasing and Starling Bank are indicative of the wide range of opportunities that exist for brands via the club sponsorship channel.

Sponsorship goes hi-tech: Sponsorship has always been a people-centric business, but post-Covid there’s also a strong tech flavour to campaigns and activations. At UKSA 2023, several winners leaned into intriguing tech solutions to elevate the performance of their partnerships. Winners that featured tech solutions included Vodafone which used 5G-enabled haptics suits to make live entertainment accessible to the deaf and hard-of-hearing. The same company also used augmented reality in Elton John – The AR Experience. Among other finalists, Deloitte helped the LTA with its digital transformation project while Audi’s Power Meter was used to enhance live coverage of cricket’s The Hundred. It was also interesting to note how tech brands had a part to play in terms of providing tools for sponsorship campaigns. Examples included Sky, Adobe & We Are Futures:  The Edit and D&AD Shift with Google – both of which set out to support young talent.  READ ON...

Heineken’s ‘cheers to all fans’ secures Sponsorship of the Year Trophy at the 29th edition of the UK Sponsorship Awards - Women-focused campaigns perform strongly across categories as brands and agencies embrace equality and inclusion

Heineken’s ground-breaking ‘cheers to all fans’, entered by M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment, was named as Sponsorship of the Year at the 2023 edition of UK Sponsorship Awards. The team behind the inclusivity-focused sponsorship campaign collected their accolade in front of a packed audience at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square.

The campaign, based around a partnership with UEFA, finished the night with four wins – also securing top prizes in the Women’s, Brand and Spotlight categories. Heineken & M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment also celebrated success in the International category, with the 2022 launch of ‘When You Drive, Never Drink’.

The only other multiple award winner on the night was Go.Compare, which secured the top spot in both the TV and 20/20 Vision categories. The low number of multiple category winners runs counter to recent trends at the Awards and illustrates the highly-competitive nature of this year’s crop of entries – with success being shared out broadly.

M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment also celebrated winning the Large Consultancy of the Year Award. The Medium to Boutique Consultancy category was clinched for the second time by We Are Futures, while Bright Partnerships went home with the Agency Innovation Award.

One of the awards’ most competitive categories was Diversity & Inclusion, which this year went to the RNIB’s innovative ‘See The Person’ initiative. Still on D&I, Amanda Fone and Adrian Walcott were jointly named UKSA Champions of Sponsorship: D&I and inducted into the Hall Of Fame. Other new UKSA Champions for 2023 included Jon Dutton, chief executive, Rugby League World Cup 2021 (Sport), Abby Stanworth, head of partners mSix&Partners (media) & Andrew Selby, head of partnerships at Deloitte (innovation).

Big brands that triumphed in the 2023 categories included O2, EE, Morgan Stanley, Google, Audi, Surf and DHL. There was also recognition for niche brands and organisations such as The Newt in Somerset, Hurtigruten, Meccano and D&AD – which partnered with Google. Reinforcing a post-pandemic trend, digital and tech-powered campaigns did well. Winners that leaned into tech solutions included Lego Dots, Xylem, Workday and Vodafone with its Haptic Suits.

Social Purpose continues to be a powerful component of sponsorship and this year the category was won by Barclays for ‘It all starts with a chance'. In a similar vein, Habito, working with Skateboard GB, won its first ever award for ‘building a partnership with purpose’ in the Grass Roots Sports category. Xylem’s Water Heroes Academy, entered with Manchester City FC, was the winning Environmental sponsorship. 

Other winners included Range Rover which won the hotly-contested branded content strategy with The Spillway. On the night there were also wins for Wickes, Clarins, and LOGO DOTS & The Sims entered by Venatus which won the Esports/Gaming category.  Circle K,  thanks to its Pokemon Go partnership. won the Sponsorship Innovation category.

As always, the spread of winners demonstrated how sponsorship is embraced by businesses across a wide array of sectors. Telecoms brands were big winners but the financial services, drinks and automotive sectors also performed strongly. FMCG, tech, logistics, retail, travel & leisure were also prominent on the night.

Commenting on the event, UK Sponsorship Awards organiser Rosemary Sarginson said: “This was another terrific year as the UK Sponsorship Awards marches on towards its 30th Anniversary. As always, it was a true delight to welcome so many friends and colleagues to this annual celebration of the sponsorship industry’s resilience and effectiveness. Brands, rights holders, agencies, arts organisations and grass roots bodies again demonstrated the creativity and agility of this endlessly evolving medium. Congratulations to our winners and finalists, thanks to our judges and here’s to meeting up again in 2024.”

Full details of winners and nominees can be found in the Book of the Night here

Where is the Six Nations most popular? And how do its fans mirror those of F1?

Ahead of start of the 2023 Six Nations on February 4, YouGov looked at the interest levels in the tournament in the UK, France, and Italy and has also taken a look at some key demographic characteristics of those interested in the tournament.

Interest levels show sharp variances from market to market. Just under a fifth of Italians (18%) say that the Six Nations is one of their top interests or that they are somewhat interested in it. Consumers in the UK are 61% likelier to express an interest in the tournament (29%). One in four French people are also fans (26%).

Splitting UK data by the constituent countries reveals even sharper differences, with consumers in Wales (51%) being twice as likely as those in England (26%) to be interested in the event. Two-fifths of consumers in Northern Ireland (41%) and a slightly lower share of Scots (36%) are also interested in the Six Nations.

Who are these fans?




Tech brands win big as global sponsorship market evolves to embrace changing business models

eBay & EFL - Small Businesses United, entered by MediaCom Sport & Entertainment, was named as Sponsorship of the Year at the 2022 edition of UK Sponsorship Awards; back at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square after a Covid-19 enforced absence.

The innovative community-focused campaign finished the night with an impressive haul of five awards – also securing top prizes in the sports, grass roots, football and innovation categories. Other multiple winners on the night included Dreams, for its work with TeamGB & ParalympicsGB; and Hellmann’s Cook Clever Waste Less, which triumphed in both the Sustainability and Branded Content categories.

There was also a brace for Santander Cycles, which came out on top in the continuity category and the Spotlight Award, which this year focused on financial services. Toyota also won twice with Olympic/Paralympic-themed work.

Also celebrating was Ear to the Ground, named as the Large Agency of the Year for the first time. the Medium to Boutique Agency category was clinched by We Are Futures, another first time winner. The Agency Breakthrough Award went to MatchFit.

One of the event’s most hotly-contested categories was Diversity & Inclusion, which this year went to the creatively ambitious Channel 4 Represents: Black to Front. On a similar theme, Mike Sharrock, chief executive of the British Paralympic Association, was named Champion of Sponsorship: DEI and inducted into the UKSA Hall Of Fame.

Covid-19 was not such a focus of attention at this year’s event, but there was still an award for Rising To The Covid Challenge. Designed to recognise work that has overcome the crisis through creativity, innovation, agility and grit this went to Sport England and EVERFI for Travel to Tokyo.

Big brands that triumphed in the 2022 categories included BT, DHL, Heineken, McDonald’s, New Balance and Guinness. There was also recognition for niche brands and organisations such as Babylonstoren, Pieminister and the Urban Land Institute. One notable trend was the growth in digital or tech-powered brands and platforms. Aside from eBay’s success across multiple categories, wins for StockX, I Saw It First and Vinted illustrated how the profile of sponsorship is evolving to embrace new business models.

Other winners included Tennent’s which won for its branded content strategy Made For This. This is an interesting pivot for a brand which has previously won at UKSA events for its T in the Park Festival, which was last held in 2016.

Social Purpose continues to be a powerful component of sponsorship and this year the category was won by Papa John’s Community Fund. On the night there were also wins for KFC, Coco Pops, Principality Stadium and Eleven Sports Media, which won the new sponsorship tech category.

As in previous years, the range of winners showcased how sponsorship can be a potent communications platform for businesses across a wide array of sectors. Digital brands were the big winners but the drinks and automotive sectors also performed well. Financial services, FMCG/food, telecoms and logistics were prominent on the night.

Commenting on the event, UK Sponsorship Awards organiser Rosemary Sarginson said: “It was thrilling for the UKSA team to be able to welcome our friends and colleagues back to a live event after a three year gap. It’s been a tough period but as always the quality of work on show was excellent. Despite everything that the pandemic has thrown at the industry, brands, rights holders, agencies, arts institutions and community-facing organisations continued to prove the efficacy and creativity of this endlessly inventive medium. Congratulations to all of our winners and finalists – and here’s to a peaceful and positive resolution to 2022.”

Full details of winners and nominees can be found at the Awards website:



Sponsorship in 2022: Themes & Trends

2022 is set to be another volatile year – with Covid infections, inflation, rising energy prices and supply chain problems expected to be a drag on the global economy. Add to that the increasing politicisation of sport (think of the Peng Shuai incident), the race to net zero, and the relentless rollout of the digital economy, and sponsors are going to have to be even more agile, creative and innovative than usual if they are to make meaningful connections with their target markets. Here are a few themes and trends that the UKSA team expects to define the sponsorship sector in the coming year.

The need for a Plan B: None of us really expected events to still be at risk of cancellation two years after Covid-19 first hit. But the threat of government intervention, combined with a reluctance among businesses and consumers to mingle unnecessarily, means events are often pulled at the last moment. The Omicron variant has further exacerbated the problem by forcing people off work – which means that events sometimes can’t take place because they lack staff. This can be anybody from security and bar staff to Premier League footballers. For sponsors, it means that there always has to be an alternative activation waiting to go – something simple and scalable that can be triggered rapidly. Usually this will be digitally-based.

Increased calls to go green: Even before COP26, brands were under pressure from lobby groups and consumers to play their part in the climate change debate. Going forward, sponsors will need to ensure that ESG considerations are factored into their strategy. One area that often attracts criticism is unnecessary travel, so expect to see more local activations that have a relatively modest carbon footprint.

More checks and balances: Rights holders can face pushback when they form partnerships with certain brands and sectors. The most obvious example of this is the relationship between leading arts institutions and fossil fuel energy giants like BP. This is also an issue for brands. When Kingspan signed up with the F1 Mercedes Team, it clearly didn’t anticipate the backlash it received as a result of its links to Grenfell Tower. Likewise, the sponsors who piled into esports didn’t foresee the sex discrimination scandal that has engulfed Activision Blizzard. The message for brands is – more due diligence. If there is a risk that a high-profile association is going to generate negative PR, look for more subtle partnerships. Always remember that the media will sniff out a controversial story if there is one to tell.  READ ON

UK Sponsorship Awards 2022 Countdown - Winning Tips for Entrants

There’s only one surefire way to win a UK Sponsorship Awards – and that’s to convince the judges that your entry is stronger than all the others in the same category. Having said that, there are a few ways in which you can improve your chances of getting noticed. Built up over years of feedback from the judges, the following insights can help you hone your approach when drafting an entry. And don't forget, you can always contact UKSA’s organising team for guidance if you’re not sure about some aspect of the criteria. Good luck with your entries!

The Entry is Everything

It sounds obvious – but the judges can only make their decision based on the information in front of them. As industry specialists, we all walk into the judging room knowing a reasonable amount about the more high-profile entries we have received. But it doesn't matter how good or ground-breaking your sponsorship is, you won't win if you don't get the key points across in the entry. There's a good reason for this. Many of our entries are not known to the judges in detail. So to bring pre-judgments into the process would create an unlevel playing field and distort judging. The only way for any industry awards to be completely fair is to stick to the stories told in the entry forms. This point often comes up on judging panels, with someone almost certain to say: “If only the entry was better, they probably would have won…”

READ ON ....

Ten reasons why you should enter the UKSAs

The UK Sponsorship Awards (UKSA) organising team is currently in the process of gathering entries for the 2022 edition of this prestigious industry event. Open to brands, agencies, rights holder, charities and other sponsorship stakeholders, the gala celebration will be held at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square on March 29 2022.

Many of the usual categories are available for entry – across arts, sport, media and digital. But as usual UKSA 2022 is leading the way with its category innovations. There will a special category for Olympics/Paralympics sponsors and a one-off Award for the Best Arts Sponsorship since 2010. 2022 will also see the reboot of the Spotlight Award, targeted this year at financial services firms. Company and People Awards are also an important component of the UKSA line-up – and this year is no exception. Rights holders and consultancies will have their own categories, and there will be new additions to our Champions of Sponsorship half of fame. Not to be overlooked is the Barrie Gill Award for Most Promising Young Sponsorship Executive.

The UK Sponsorship Awards attracts many loyal supporters from the sponsorship industry who attend the event year after year. But there are, of course, newcomers to the industry who have never attended – tech sponsors, for example, or rights holders that didn't exist a few years ago. And there are some who have been absent for a few years – maybe because of internal changes in decision-makers or a review of how best to spend precious marketing and hospitality budgets.

With that in mind, we thought it would be worth revisiting some of the reasons why it makes sense to enter the UK Sponsorship Awards and, maybe, win or secure a place on the shortlist. What, in other words, are the business benefits in taking the time do so? Below we list ten factors that have persuaded the world’s most famous marketing brands and agencies to come back year after year.

Independent Benchmarking of Success

Award programmes like UKSA are an objective third party audit of your strategy, performance and b2b communications skills. By allowing your peers (represented by the judges) to assess your work (and your ability to articulate it), you can gauge whether your business model is as robust as you think it is. If you win an award that’s great… because it’s something you can show the client or the board (perhaps protecting your department/agency’s budgets for the coming year, or winning additional tasks). But if you don’t make the shortlist, it’s an opportunity to ask why, to try and develop a constructive conclusion that will inform future plans. This might spark innovative partnerships and ideas that otherwise wouldn’t have been interrogated.



Live Entertainment & Events - opportunities for sponsors seeking standout

As the global economy gradually returns to normal, brands have inevitably started looking to sports sponsorship as a way to engage with audiences. But while sport has plenty to recommend it, it’s an expensive market, both in terms of rights acquisition and activation.

It’s also cluttered – making it hard for brands to really make their mark. You only have to look at the sponsorship rosters of leading football clubs and marquee events to grasp the scale of the challenge.

There is, however, an alternative to sport that can also deliver scale, flexibility and passion. For the purposes of the UK Sponsorship Awards’ categories, we refer to it as Live Entertainment & Events – though this scarcely does justice to the richness of the sector.

From music festivals to film awards, seasonal events to comedy stand up tours, there is an astonishing array of platforms for brands to partner with. Depending on their sponsorship objectives, brands can either go after a mass audience or target specific sub-groups such as families or youth. Like sport, these properties lend themselves to corporate hospitality and staff incentive programmes. And because the entire sector is fuelled by hot talent and consumer experience, it also lends itself well to social media and content marketing.

Below are just a few examples of the opportunities in this arena. And given the recent struggles brought about by Covid-19, now might be a good moment to secure an attractive or innovative deal structure.

Music Festivals: Glastonbury may be the most famous, but there are dozens of major music events across the British   READ ON...

Sponsorship Briefing  - Tech Transformation and the Sponsorship Sector - Part 1

Digital-first brands offer intriguing alternatives to restricted categories

It’s one of the perennial challenges of being a rights-holder or sponsorship consultancy that industry sectors you’ve come to rely as core revenue generators suddenly become victims of tough government restrictions. 

The loss of tobacco was the first hurdle for the industry, but by no means has it been the only one. While most sectors aren’t subject to the same level of blanket prohibition, alcohol, gambling and hfss foods have all been subject to control in various forms. Oil & Gas, while not expressly banned, has encountered such opposition from the environmental lobby that some rights holders won’t work with it.

Against this backdrop, there is a constant race to find the next big sector – the one that can step up and replace lost revenues. This isn’t a particularly easy process, but the good news is that tech innovation offers a partial answer. With digital advances across retail, finance, energy and health – to name just a few sectors – a new wave of brands have turned to sponsorship to establish their credentials and boost engagement with audiences. Below, we look at some of the tech-led sectors that are providing an alternative to legacy sponsors.

Fintech: The financial services sector has always been a sponsorship stalwart (Lloyds, Barclays, HSBC, NatWest, etc.). But in the last decade, the industry has undergone its own revolution thanks to fintech challengers such as Monzo, Revolut, Starling and Klarna. Now some fintech brands are getting into sponsorship – with Clearpay’s deal with London Fashion Week a recent example. The FT also recently reported that cryptocurrency brands are getting in on the act.   READ ON


UK Sponsorship Awards 2022 open for entry - celebrations in March 2022

Special Award for Olympics Activations up for grabs;  and the hunt is on for the Best Arts Sponsorship since 2010

The UK Sponsorship Awards (UKSA) organising team is delighted to announce the official launch of its 2022 edition. Brands, agencies, rights holders, charities and other sponsorship stakeholders are now able to enter the Awards via the UKSA website. At time of writing, the firm plan is to revert to a physical edition of the industry-leading gala event, to be held in March 2022.

“While Covid-19 continues to be a concern for many in sponsorship, March 2022 currently looks like an opportune time to hold a bricks and mortar event,” said UKSA CEO Rosie Sarginson. “Sponsorship is a people business which thrives on face to face interaction. So we are looking forward to hosting a live celebration that can bring so many of our friends and colleagues back together under one roof.”

Many of the usual categories are available for entry – across arts, sport, media and digital. But as usual UKSA 2022 is leading the way with its category innovations. “We have already set out our stall on sustainability,” said Sarginson, “but in addition there will be special categories for Olympics/Paralympics sponsors and arts sponsors. The arts sector has done a magnificent job of reinventing itself over the last decade so we will acknowledge that fact through a one-off Award for the Best Arts Sponsorship since 2010. 2022 will also see the reboot of the Spotlight Award, targeted this year at financial services firms.”

Company and People Awards are an important component of the UKSA line-up – and this year is no exception. Rights holders and consultancies will have their own categories, and there will be new additions to our Champions of Sponsorship Hall of Fame. Not to be overlooked is the Barrie Gill Award for Most Promising Young Sponsorship Executive – a signpost towards the sector’s bright future.

While most industry sectors are now finding solutions to the Covid-19 challenge, there’s no question it continues to impact people-facing business like sponsorship. For this reason, there will be a Rising To The Covid Challenge Award – rewarding companies that have found creative and effective strategies and activations to combat the pandemic. “Hopefully,” said Sarginson, “entries in this category can provide best practice insights and ideas about how to bounce back.”

2022 will also see the return of the 20/20 Vision Award, a celebration of craft and creativity. Like last year, judges will be on the hunt for outstanding executions where sublime craft has brought an exceptional creative idea to life. The category is open to every area of the sponsorship sector and will focus on areas such as design, craft, artistry, technique, expertise, talent, vision and iconic imagery. It runs alongside UKSA’s innovation award, which is concentrated more on the use of future-facing, game-changing or unorthodox technology.

“More details will be provided on this year’s categories and criteria in the run up to our early bird deadline of December 1 2021,” said Sarginson, “At UKSA, we’re looking forward to showcasing the industry’s creativity, innovation and effectiveness when we meet on March 29 2022.”

For more details on categories, criteria, entering and UKSA’s renewed commitment to sustainability, please explore this site.  And keep your eyes open for new editorial insights over the coming weeks.

UK Sponsorship Awards Doubles Down on Sustainability for 2022

Green champion award, increased editorial coverage and industry poll all planned to drive industry’s environmental agenda





Tokyo 2020 may have been beset by pandemic-related problems, but it can rightly claim to be the most environmentally-friendly Olympics ever. True, there are those who argue that the event hasn’t gone far enough, but the fact is that Japan has shown the way forward in a range of areas such as renewable energy, carbon capture and commitment to recycling. For all stakeholders in the rights holder/event/sponsor ecosystem, there is now an opportunity to build on Tokyo’s achievement by adding their own innovations. 

New Green Champion Award

For its own part, the UK Sponsorship Awards is planning to place an even greater emphasis on the issue of sustainability within the industry. In addition to its annual Sustainability Sponsorship Award, which attracts more and more entrants every year, this year will also see the launch of a new award to identify the ‘greenest’ executive in the UK sponsorship sector. As part of UKSA’s Champions of Sponsorship programme, companies will be invited to nominate one of their colleagues who champions sustainability in all their actions. Free to enter, we are looking for executives who live by a green code and have attempted to instil a sustainable culture within their firm. Perhaps they have even introduced green thinking to their client.

Consultancy Sustainability Commitment

In addition to the above award, participants in the Consultancy of the Year categories will be expected to outline their own commitments to sustainability when entering. While the ultimate winners will not be decided on the basis of their green credentials, supplying a paragraph on sustainable initiatives will be a minimum requirement for entry. Depending on the quality of entries, there may also be a one off Green Consultancy of the Year award to signpost sector achievements.

Enhanced editorial coverage

In the run up to the 2022 Awards, UKSA will also launch two further green initiatives. Firstly, there will be a spotlight every month on a sponsor that is making waves in sustainability. This will take the form of a 500-word story under the banner Green Sponsor of the Month. In addition, UKSA will also be sending out a survey to companies later in the year to ask them what green initiatives they have introduced and the challenges they have faced. Responses will form the basis of an information tool that will then be shared with the industry in the run up to the COP climate change conference in Glasgow later this year.  MORE 

Branded Content: Sponsorship’s secret sauce - six ways to make sure your campaign hits the right notes

Over the last decade, branded content has grown to become one of the most competitive sections of the UK Sponsorship Awards. Undoubtedly facilitated by the growth of digital platforms, it has proved itself to be a creative, versatile and innovation addition to the b2c marketer’s armoury – either as a stand-alone communications channel or as part of a wider sponsorship programme.

Last year, the UKSA editorial team explored some of the reasons why branded content has come to be regarded as an essential component of the partnership marketing ecosystem. But what exactly does it take to make a branded content campaign achieve traction among audiences? Below, we outline a few key pointers – and provide some examples from recent UKSA finalists:

Acquaint yourself with all the options: Media fragmentation means branded content now comes in a myriad of shapes and sizes. Historically thought of as synonymous with advertiser-funded programming and/or product placement, this category now covers everything from YouTube films to extended ad break vignettes to cross-platform executions led by magazine and radio companies. Such is the range of options that UKSA entries now demonstrate a remarkable ability to push the creative envelope. One of last year’s finalists, for example, was Pukka Herbs, which used a podcast presented by food writer Jasmine Hemsley to encourage sampling of Pukka Teas. Devised by Mindshare, the campaign almost doubled consideration among Pukka’s target market. Of course, there’s nothing to say brands can only use one channel. One of UKSA 2020/21’s award winning entries saw Marriott Bonvoy link up with Manchester United to bring to life the experiences that the Bonvoy loyalty programme could offer members. This branded content-powered campaign involved more than 50 digital assets and was deployed across digital, social, mobile, print & outdoor.  Read on...

Arts and Cultural Sponsorships - what lies ahead as sector begins to open up? 

Few sectors of society have been left unscathed by the Covid-19 pandemic, but there’s no question that arts and culture has been among the hardest hit – with events cancelled, jobs lost and some institutions forced to close their doors for good.  UKSA's Andy Fry looks at how the arts have risen to the challenges and what lies ahead for the sector.

In February 2021, a House of Commons report laid bare the scale of the devastation, noting that 15,000 theatrical performances were cancelled during the first lockdown and over £300 million in box office revenue was lost. By November 2020, research from Art Fund found that 60% of museums and galleries were concerned about surviving the pandemic. Meanwhile, Andrew Lloyd Webber reported it was costing £1m per month to keep his seven London venues closed. 

Commenting on the overall picture, the DCMS warned that the pandemic presented “the biggest threat to the UK’s cultural infrastructure, institutions and workforce in a generation”. Not only that, the DCMS observed that the loss of arts institutions’ community outreach threatened to reverse progress in diversity and inclusion, and undermine the health and education benefits that flow out of cultural engagement.

The government provided significant support in the shape of £1.57 billion emergency funding for cultural, arts and heritage institutions. This has undoubtedly softened the blow, but the sector still faces a rocky road to recovery as restrictions ease. 

The short to medium term is likely to see reduced audiences – either because of social distancing rules, lack of consumer disposable income or the public’s reluctance to venture out again. This in turn will mean reduced arts industry headcount, as organisations look to control costs. Fewer people in the back office, smaller performing troupes, reduced reliance on freelancers are all inevitable consequences as the beleaguered sector starts to mop up the damage caused by Covid-19.

Not surprisingly, arts sponsorship has also been caught up in the logistical nightmare caused by the pandemic. With performances and community programmes cancelled, it has been extremely difficult for rights holders to woo new brands.

Fortunately, however, most existing sponsors have stood by their partners, seeking solutions rather than cutting short contracts. There were some strong examples of this in the Rising To The Challenge section of the 2020/21 UK Sponsorship Awards – designed to celebrate partnerships that found ingenious ways to overcome the limitations imposed on them.

Among the finalists, for example, was The National Gallery, which brought art treasures to the public by utilising Ocean Outdoor’s network of high impact digital poster sites. In just two weeks, the campaign generated 7 million impressions and was covered by media including Sky News and Time Out.  

The V&A and its sponsor HTC VIVE Arts also found a way to engage with audiences around Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser, an exhibition exploring the origins and adaptations of Alice in Wonderland. HTC VIVE Arts had created a VR experience allowing visitors to enter a virtual Wonderland. When Covid-19 meant the exhibition had to be postponed, the partners built an extended at-home version of the immersive VR experience.  MORE


UK Sponsorship Awards 2020/2021 - Celebrating the very best

Paddy Power Save Our Shirt, entered by Octagon, was named as Sponsorship of the Year 2020 at the 2020/2021 edition of UK Sponsorship Awards, delivered digitally in compliance with Covid-19 regulations. The ingenious campaign also walked away with four category awards and a highly commended prize in the new 2020 Vision category. The Winner of the 2020 Vision category, created to celebrate sponsorship craft, was Hyundai, for Forward Thinking Drama on ITV (entered by Innocean UK and Havas Media UK).

Also celebrating was M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment, named as the Large Consultancy of the Year for 2020/21. The Medium to Boutique Consultancy category was clinched for the first time by Ear to the Ground, while the Consultancy Innovation Award went to Bright Partnerships.

Other winners on the night included O2 Wear The Rose, which won the one-off Best World Cup Sponsorship of 2019 category. The ‘Champions of Sponsorship’ programme saw three names inducted into the UKSA Hall Of Fame:  Virgin Media’s Gill Bennett, Everfi (UK)’s Nick Fuller and FA director of the professional women’s game Kelly Simmons.

The 2020/21 edition of the UKSA Awards consisted of two elements. Firstly, its traditional categories – which would have been unveiled at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square last Spring if it weren’t for the onset of Covid-19. Secondly, a new set of categories entitled Rising To The Challenge, designed to recognise work that has overcome the crisis – through creativity, innovation, agility, grit and determination. 

Winners in the first segment included Boots and Barclays, both of which earned recognition for their work with women’s sport. In a year where issues such as inclusion and sustainability came to the fore, other winners that captured the zeitgeist included Hennessy, Nespresso and Mind.

Big brands that triumphed in the 2020 categories included Mitsubishi, DHL, Axa and PayPal. However there was also recognition for niche brands such as Hillarys Blinds and Maldon Salt, which won in two categories. As in previous years, the range of winners showcased how sponsorship can be a potent communications platform for businesses across a wide array of sectors. As always, financial services was well-represented, with BNP Paribas and Deloitte among the winners. Marriott Bonvoy had a great night, winning two categories, while there was also success for Aldi, Cunard, Never Fully Dressed and Sony Interactive Entertainment.

In addition to the above, seven awards were handed out in the Rising To The Challenge section of the Awards. All of these campaigns related to work that was activated amid the Coronavirus crisis. Winners included Bauer Media, Carlsberg, Hummel, Versus Arthritis and Virgin Money. Continuing a good night for sponsors of women’s sport, the Škoda V-Women’s Tour 2020, entered by Fuse, came out on top in the Sports Partnerships & Projects category. There was also good news for LNER, winner of the Best Team Collaboration and Contribution Award in this section.

Commenting on the event, UK Sponsorship Awards organiser Rosemary Sarginson said: “We were very disappointed not to be able to meet our friends in the industry in person at the London Marriott Hotel, but we are proud to provide a showcase for such a remarkable range of work. Despite everything that the current pandemic has thrown at the industry, brands, rights holders, agencies, arts institutions and community-facing organisations have all continued to deliver work of the highest calibre. I’d like to congratulate all of our winners and finalists – and I hope we will be able to catch up properly at UKSA-backed events in 2021/22.”

The Book of the Night, featuring full details of winners and nominees, plus a link to the broadcast can be found at

Cinch clinches ECB deal replacing NatWest from May

The ECB has secured a multi-year partnership with online used car marketplace Cinch. The ecommerce business becomes the new Principal Partner to England Cricket from May 2021. ECB’s current agreement with NatWest ends in April.When Cinch steps up to the crease as Principal Partner, the brand will be sported on the kit of the England team across Test, ODI and T20 appearances.

Cinch’s partnership includes and supports all England cricket teams including Men’s, Women’s, England Lions, Disability and England Age Groups.This major ECB partnership launches with both England’s Men and Women as reigning world champions and ahead of a bumper year for English cricket. The Women’s team are building towards next year’s World Cup, and the Men take on India at home before the campaign to regain the Ashes in Australia this winter.

Avril Palmer-Baunack, Chairman of Constellation Automotive Group, Cinch owners said, “This is a significant and exciting multi-year partnership for Cinch. Cinch will support the growth of cricket at all levels as England teams continue to impress and cricket innovates to bring more people to increasingly exciting formats.

Referring to NatWest’s four decades in cricket, Tom Harrison, ECB Chief Executive Officer, said: “We would like to place on record our thanks to NatWest, who have been an excellent partner over many years.”

This weekend Cinch bolsters its cricket line-up with the launch of its sponsorship of Channel 4’s coverage of England’s Test Series against India.ECB and Microsoft partnership to unlock new opportunities across whole game


Microsoft and ECB's partnership puts technology at heart of cricket

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Microsoft have agreed a partnership that will put technology at the heart of delivering long-lasting benefits across all levels of cricket.

The relationship will accelerate the ECB’s strategic plan ‘Inspiring Generations’ to grow cricket, connect communities and improve lives, and aligns with Microsoft’s mission to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.

The partnership will unlock a range of opportunities from driving innovation across the ECB’s elite teams to providing life-changing skills at grassroots level.

The partnership will focus on innovative and purpose-led initiatives to establish meaningful and sustainable changes across three key areas: Cricket Communities, High Performance and Cultural Transformation.

Digital skills training is set to be provided to grassroot cricket communities over the coming years, which will contribute to Microsoft’s ‘Get On’ campaign, designed to help 1.5 million people build careers in technology by 2024. This will provide opportunities to people across cricket, from volunteers to young participants, to develop new life skills.

The ECB will also work with Microsoft to explore how artificial intelligence, real-time data and analytics can inform the performance of England’s national teams.

The partnership is set to investigate whether ball-tracking technology can help to unearth the next generation of elite cricketers and engage more diverse talent across the whole game.

Invitation to take part in 2021 IEG Decision Makers Survey

For more than 40 years IEG has consulted world-class brands and properties on strategy and best practices in sponsorship. To identify trends and help inform the industry, the organisation surveys the biggest investors in sponsorship each year to see how they plan and manage partnerships. The insights enlighten brands, properties and agencies.  In collaboration with the UK Sponsorship Awards, IEG is reaching out to brand side marketers to participate in the 2021 IEG Decision Makers Survey.

Responses are anonymous, and data is analysed in aggregate. If you would like to receive a copy of the resulting report, there is an option to include your preferred email address at the end of the survey. Thank you in advance for your participation!


TV & Radio Sponsorship Displays Covid-19 Resilience

TV and radio sponsorships have faced plenty of challenges during the Covid-19 era – but nothing compared to the carnage wreaked on the live events-based segment of the business. Against the headwinds of production suspensions and budget restrictions, we look at some of the innovative media partnerships to have made it to the airwaves. One interesting point to note is how TV and radio partnerships have also provided short-term solutions for embattled event partnerships.

Aldi and Channel 4’s The Great British Bake Off: German discount supermarket chain has had a major impact on UK retail over the last couple of decades – and currently takes around 8% share of the grocery market. But so far it has not really convinced customers that it stands for quality. Hence its partnership with Bake Off, designed to help the brand broaden its appeal. Unveiling the deal, Aldi UK marketing director Sean McGinty described the series as “the perfect partner for Aldi. The feel good show appeals to all ages, and underpins Aldi’s quality positioning and light hearted tone.” The show is a top performer for Channel 4, securing around 9-10 million viewers per episode. The deal also included spin-offs Bake Off: An Extra Slice and Junior Bake Off – giving Aldi’s quality message a broad reach.

MoneySuperMarket and Film on 4: Still with Channel 4, 2020 saw comparison website MoneySuperMarket sign a 12 month, multi-million-pound partnership with C4’s ‘Film on 4’. A wide-ranging deal, this gives the platform a presence around all films aired across Channel 4, E4, More4 and pre-9pm on Film4, as well the extensive collection available to stream on All 4. All told, the deal means that the brand’s idents will be visible around 2260 films, ranging from Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri to The Festival. The sponsorship campaign reinforces the brand’s overarching strategy, which focuses on the ‘Money Calm Bull’. 



For further indepth content into the sector and how it is adapting to the new marketplace, please click here.

Sports Sponsorship: What Lies Ahead In The Post Pandemic Era

Agency Mongoose has launched its inaugural industry insights report reflecting on how brands and rights holders have responded and engaged with their audiences during the pandemic. The report highlights emerging trends set to shape the future of sports sponsorship.

What follows is a summary of the key highlights – the report in full can be downloaded here.

The impact of COVID

In relation to the sporting industry the impact of the recent pandemic has been vast, with almost every activity associated with sport affected in some way. In addition to a break in play, brands and rights holders have also had to adapt and embrace their digital platforms and identify new ways to connect with their customers in the absence of physical events. However as a result we have seen rights holders produce some fantastic content that will long be remembered beyond the pandemic – such as the seamless 2020 ‘virtual draft’ in the NFL and the 2.6 Challenge that was launched following the postponement of London Marathon to encourage countless ‘at home’ challenges aimed at saving UK charities. 

Esports and Investment 

Over the past three months we have seen an explosion of esports into the mainstream market as the industry has leveraged a lack of traditional sporting entertainment. With audience figures rocketing to an estimated 453.8 million globally and anticipated to keep growing over the next 18 months, we are seeing more and more sports brands and stars (including David Beckham) enter the esports arena in order to engage with consumers. 

We are now in a new era where Tech, Media, Gaming, Music, Fashion and Football are coming together to create an exciting new global entertainment business. We are paying close attention to cross-industry performance which is providing genuine reason for optimism as the likes of ecommerce, subscription platforms, gaming and streaming, home fitness and eLearning sectors have all experienced huge growth in recent months following immediate shifts in consumer behaviour.  READ ON


Coronavirus: To cancel or not to cancel? Football might be back, but this is a question many sports event organisers are still having to ask themselves

Hannah Laird is an associate at the law firm Farrer & Co and this article first appeared in their regular briefing - Inn the Field of Play, which can be viewed here.

The long-awaited return of the Premier League has kicked off behind closed doors, showing us what sport under the “new normal” might look like. Tennis followed hot on its heels  – but what about other sports?

The publication of DCMS’s “Stage Three” guidance permitting the return of competitive elite sport, under strict conditions, from 1 June 2020 was of course welcome news; but it poses as many questions as answers for sports organisations (as well as contractors, insurers, staff and athletes). Despite the return of athletes to training and the increase in the number of matches and competitions now taking place without spectators, the immediate future of competitive sport remains uncertain, with major questions still hanging over many events.

Many sporting events have already been cancelled or postponed. However, many event organisers are still grappling with the decision for future competitions or matches; whether or not the calendar will accommodate rearranged fixtures; can the requirements of Stage Three guidance be met; and how to plan for the eventuality that there could be a second round of cancellations following a second wave of the virus, or as a result of knock-on economic and social effects?

One of the key Stage Three requirements is to have “a decision-making structure and agreed procedure in place to modify, restrict, postpone or cancel” the event. This article does not attempt to cover all the Stage Three requirements. It is instead a short step-by-step guide to assess your exposure to your contracting parties and lead you through the potentially complex decision-making process of whether your existing event (be it new or longstanding) could or should be cancelled.

Step 1 - Review your contracts and insurance policies

Assess your contractual position, starting with the basics: could we cancel if we needed to? Could we apply force majeure? Do we have a termination right? The answers to these questions are very likely to change from contract to contract, so there will be no single approach on timing or strategy that works equally well for sponsorships and broadcasting as it might for catering, security, programme printing etc. Of course, you may now be dealing with contracts that have already been varied since the issue first arose in March 2020.  READ ON

Resilience And Adaptation: How Motorsport Responded To A Covid-19 Enforced Break

With NASCAR already back on the grid in the US, and Formula 1 preparing to return in early July, the world of live motorsport is edging back to normality. But, as James Flude,  Account Manager, CSM Sport and Entertainment,  writes , the lack of on-track action over the past few months did not result in off-track inaction. 

The late, great Sir Stirling Moss once said that “to achieve anything in this game, you must be prepared to dabble in the boundary of disaster”. 

His words were about safety in motorsport, but at a time of unprecedented global disruption, they could equally provide inspiration for how the motorsport world is adapting to find new methods of achievement.

When Formula 1’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix was cancelled in March, the sport was at the centre of a major global crisis. A positive coronavirus test within the paddock had seen the McLaren team withdraw from the Grand Prix, with the race itself called off just hours before cars were due to take to the track.

With cars in the pits across the world, and Formula 1 licking its wounds from the fiasco in Melbourne, motorsport could have been forgiven for taking an extended mid-season break. A chance to hibernate, protect self-interest and allow others to take control of the coronavirus pandemic before normal service is resumed. But in a sport that lives on the cutting edge, innovation remains everywhere.

Throughout this crisis, there have been standout stories of exceptional achievement from manufacturers and engineers within the field. The Mercedes AMG Formula 1 team partnered with University College London to create a pioneering ventilation device to aid patients with the virus that were struggling to breathe.  MORE

Irish Sports Industry United In Support Of Return To Major Events In 2020

As sporting events continue to shape up for a return to play, nine in ten members of the Irish sports industry group Sport for Business believe that major sports events should proceed behind closed doors or with reduced capacity across the remainder of 2020, according to new research by consultants ONSIDE. 

The second wave of the ONSIDE COVID-19 SPORTS IMPACT MONITOR survey of Sponsors, Rightsholders, Broadcasters and Agencies found that over half of sports industry stakeholders (53%) agree with major sports events going behind closed doors this year, and a further 35% think sports in Ireland should go ahead in 2020 with reduced capacity in venues. 

According to John Trainor, Founder and CEO of ONSIDE: “There may still be a lot to play for in 2020 as three in four sports industry stakeholders expect to see sports events such as the FAI League of Ireland and Irish International fixtures going ahead later this year, with two in three anticipating the return of Guinness 6 Nations and PRO14 games in the second half of 2020.”   MORE

Covid-19 Resilient Brands Report From caytootarget™ - Available For Free Download

It's a strange time trying to prospect but the harsh reality for businesses is that the show must go on says Jeremy Thompson, CEO and co-founder of caytoo – at least in trying to start or keep conversations going for when 'normality' returns. It’s important to keep the wheels turning…

Brands have been hunkering down, people have been furloughed, the news agenda has been dominated by infection and death rates and market chaos at a global level. But the harsh reality is that the show must go on – the more we all row back now, the longer the recovery will take, and the more share we’ll lose in the meantime. Here’s some evidence:
  • A Kantar study found that if a brand cut all its advertising spend during the crisis, this would have a 13% impact on sales in the long run and make market share hard to recover. However, a 50% drop in ad spend would result in just a one percent drop in sales.
  • WARC report said that:  “Evidence from previous recessions shows longer periods off air will weaken brand health and damage market share due to a reduction in share of voice.” The report goes onto show that due to the level of advertising spend reduction in the last recession it took the ad industry eight years to properly recover.

Read on for information about free download

Four In Ten Support A Return To Live Sport In Ireland In 2020

One in five Irish adults support the idea of playing landmark Irish sporting events including the GAA Senior Football & Hurling Championships, Guinness 6 Nations & Autumn Series Rugby and FAI League of Ireland behind closed doors and viewable digitally in the second half of 2020, with a further 17% in favour of reduced capacity crowds being allowed to attend such games, according to new research by sponsorship consultants ONSIDE. 

The latest wave of the ONSIDE Sponsorship Market Monitor has revealed that 44% of Irish adults claim that they will only attend live sports events or concerts when a vaccine is available for Covid-19, with the varying sports fan bases of GAA, Rugby and Irish soccer largely aligned on their return to play preferences.

Four in ten Irish adults also believe the remaining Republic of Ireland Senior Men’s International Team qualifiers for the postponed UEFA European Championships in 2021 at the Aviva Stadium should be played out later this year. According to John Trainor, Founder and CEO of ONSIDE: “Age is a definite factor in Irish adults’ return to play preferences. While three in 10 young Irish adults aged 18-24 are against these games being played out this year, this grows to 52% of adults aged 45-64”.

Trainor continued: “The return to sports on the global stage has been a success for early movers so far, with high interest and viewership gains won for many. Over six million viewers tuned in across Germany for Sky’s coverage of the return to football between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke, which represents a doubling of what would have been expected for the game under normal circumstances. Similarly, the return of Nascar's North American stock car racing series on May 17th delivered an average audience of 6.32 million viewers for US broadcast network Fox, up nearly 40% compared to the last race to take place before the series was paused due to the current pandemic.”

Trainor noted that: “Among the 17% in favour of events going ahead in Ireland with live attendees later this year, 50% capacity is the preferred option, with close to one in 10 generally open to the major sports events tested in our research being played in half filled sports stadia”.

The ONSIDE survey also uncovered a more cautious approach by the Irish public to returning to live music, arts and theatre performances at major indoor venues in 2020, with one in four in favour of reduced capacity or digitally streamed music concerts, while close to 6 in 10 would rather see such events in major indoor entertainment venues hold off on a return until 2021.  

Striking a somewhat positive note for income streams of sports, music and theatre rights holders in Ireland, 30% of Irish adults would be ready to buy a ticket now to a major sports, music or theatre event that is due to take place in the first half of next year. Trainor notes that: “Encouragingly for the indoor music and theatre sector, their ‘regular fans’ in particular are more likely to be ready to buy into 2021 shows now, with 48% of regular goers to venues like the 3 Arena and Bord Gáis Energy Theatre ready to buy tickets now for 2021 shows at such venues”.

Testing the business case for sponsorship within this landscape, the latest ONSIDE research found that 53% of sports fans and 60% of music and arts event goers believe that in today’s economy, it is more important than ever for companies to invest in sponsorship and 56% of avid Irish sports fans went on to say that they would be more inclined to support companies or brands who in turn continue to support their favourite sports events and teams through sponsorship.

There's a New Normal Coming for Sports Rights Holders - Are You Ready?

Sport is proving to be one of the higher profile business casualties of the pandemic with far-reaching economic, social and structural consequences for the future revenues of rights holders. From elite to grassroots and governing bodies to promoters - every organisation will be affected.

In addition, post-pandemic sport has a significant role to play in the recovery process, starting with our own wellbeing - both mental and physical. And as we return to watching and playing, sport will be a key ‘signifier’ of life returning back to normal.

But it won’t be the same normal - a ‘new normal’ is upon us.

The economics of sport will change post pandemic and to think we can return to a ‘business as usual’ scenario is wishful thinking. As a result, the revenue pressures on many stakeholders will be significant, whether it’s rights holders, national governing bodies, promoters, stadia, fans, sponsors or media.

Sport’s current commercial models require some lasting changes. What will be key to mitigating against harmful outcomes will be how rights holders approach the need to adapt, innovate and compromise.

Mallory Group, along with Rob Pope and Roco Communications, have published their strategy for sports rights holders to face these challenges head-on. There's a New Normal Coming for Sports Rights Holders - Are You Ready? delves into the commercial implications of this ‘new normal’, bringing insight and solutions. From the 11 key challenges currently facing rights holders to the commercial implications of this new normal, they present the three pillars of activity rights holders should focus on as they look to create a profitable future: smarter B2B, digital transformation and social purpose.

You can download the paper here.

Covid-19 - Sports Marketer's Guide From Activative

2020 was set to be a blockbuster sporting year crowned by the Tokyo Olympics and the first cross-continent UEFA European Championships, but coronavirus shut down live sport in the spring and reduced the glorious summer of sport to speculation and sparsity. 


Sponsorship activation intelligence and insights company Activative's complimentary 'Covid-19 - Sports Marketer's Guide' spans the key strategies, tactics, creative trends and stand-out campaigns. It analyses how sports and sponsorship marketers are responding to the pandemic, showcases the best work and outlines what comes next.

As well as the tragic human cost, agencies, sports-wear brands, sponsors and rights-holders are scrambling to understand the scale of the virus’ savage impact on their business and their fans The Covid-19 crisis sees sports marketers facing up to an entirely new reality and an unprecedented challenge. 

What are the appropriate effective responses to a set of challenges that include: 
• How to work with colleagues, clients, partners, talent and fans from home? 
• How to understand and adapt to changing fan emotions, needs and locations? 
• How to pivot strategies and spend in the short, medium and long term? 
• How to stay in business with so little live sport? 

This reviews aims to offer some answers to the questions and solutions to the challenges. 
To download your free report, please click here 

Covid-19 Set To Halve 2020 Sports Calendar – Analysis From Two Circles

Only 53% of the sports events originally scheduled for 2020 are likely to take place this calendar year according to projections by data-driven sports marketing Two Circles.

Two Circles works with over 300 of the world’s leading sports properties and through its global Sports Attention Index, tracks the number of sports events taking place globally. 

Originally, 49,803 major sports events were scheduled for 2020, however global social-distancing measures introduced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic have led to a large proportion of sports events being postponed or cancelled. In March, only 1,870 of the originally-scheduled 5,584 events (33%) took place.

As of April 20, Two Circles models – which update daily based on changes in the rate of infections and confirmed scheduling alterations – show that 26,424 events are due to be held by calendar-end. This is 53% of the events anticipated pre-Covid-19.

As a result of the interruption to live sport, as of April 20, Two Circles estimates that the global sports industry will generate $73.7bn in revenue in 2020 – $61.6bn less than the $135.3bn projected before the Covid-19 outbreak. In 2019, the global sports industry generated $129bn in revenue and it had been anticipated the industry would grow by 4.9% year-on-year before Covid-19 struck.

Gareth Balch, Two Circles CEO, said: “Sports properties are keen to return as soon as possible as the longer the sports calendar is on hiatus, the worse the financial impact will be. However, sport should – and will – only return when it is deemed safe to do so, and with the support of all relevant government and medical authorities. Even hosting sport without crowds poses a complex challenge.”

Properties such as German football’s Bundesliga plan to recommence from May, albeit with only 240 people - including players, coaching and medical staff, match officials and production staff – involved per game. Sports in countries where Covid-19 infections appear to have peaked, such as South Korea and New Zealand, are also eyeing behind-closed-doors returns.  MORE


Insight from Sportcal: Impact of Covid-19 on 2020 Sporting Calendar June–December


Sportcal, UKSA 2020 partner, has taken a close look at the potential economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on some of the biggest sporting properties.  Click here to read detailed report. 

Viewpoint: How To Connect In This Period Of Isolation

In the first of our features from CSM Sport & Entertainment, Ryan SawrieSenior Director, Integrated Marketing in the US asks how we can create the feeling of connection with enough scale for it to make sense for marketers in an age of isolation.

As social distancing has become the new norm around the world, brands and marketers are naturally reconsidering their campaign plans. A first and obvious thought many turn to is, “How can we pivot more resources to digital and social media for this campaign?” As long-time digital marketers, we think that’s a great idea! 

An uptick in social media activity is already being noticed by agencies and media companies - upwards of 76 percent more likes have been tracked on Instagram and TikTok influencers have seen engagement jump by over 27 percent.  So, here are some things to consider as you ideate around the new normal we find ourselves in. 

Treat digital channels differently

One of the biggest mistakes when it comes to social media that marketers make is treating social channels as a dumping ground. Often this pressure comes from senior leadership in the company who might think that their messaging should appear everywhere possible all the time. READ ON

Maximising The Value Of Sports Assets

This interview with Gareth Balch, chief executive of Two Circles, was first published by our partners Sportcal and is republished here with their kind permission. 

What will be the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on sport’s revenue model, and how can it look to emerge for the better?

The short-term impact is considerable and largely unavoidable for any sport in the business of monetising live events. However, compared to most other industries, sport has proved to be recession-resilient, coming through crises like the global recession a decade ago relatively unscathed in the long-term. So while live sport is halted everyone in sport will feel financial pain, but there is every reason to suggest that once the pandemic subsides and live sport returns, whether that’s behind closed doors and or with full houses, sport will thrive once again.

Sport was clearly hit hard and early by the pandemic. For many sports rights-owners and others in their supply chains, this lockdown of live sport will result in cash reserves being drained and ultimately some businesses going bankrupt. We should also never look past the human challenges that come with that type of economic challenge. Equally, as a former athlete, the implications of lost opportunities for athletes will be hard felt, which is why our primary focus at Two Circles is on creating the healthiest environment for our people and supporting our clients to do similarly.   MORE

5 Ways Mass Participation Sport Can Survive COVID-19

Diccon Loy is Director and Founder of Participation Sport Ltd

COVID-19 will have significant impact on us all. Whether health-wise or economically, to ourselves and our loved ones. So, our first thoughts are to everyone affected by Coronavirus and to the amazing army of care workers, key workers and everybody leading the fight against this virus. This will end - and we come out stronger. 

Once the virus is contained and controlled, we will start to explore the economic remedies. Here, I take a longer-term look at the likely impact of and possible remedies to the COVID-19 crisis on one sector in particular. Coronavirus has stopped the mass participation sport events (MPSE) industry in its tracks.  Every sector of business has or will feel the impact of the shutdown. MPSE was one of the first sectors impacted. By definition, our events bring people together, which of course is something currently being actively discouraged.   MORE

Viewpoint: What To Do When Everything Stops 

Jasper Hunter, Managing Partner - Amsterdam, M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment

In the middle of January I was telling anyone who would listen that this was going to be one of the greatest years for sports fans in the Netherlands for decades. A triumphant return to Zandvoort was to set the scene before Amsterdam became the destination every Euro 2020 fan wanted to visit. Some predictions don’t age well… 

Covid-19 had different ideas and with the sporting and entertainment calendars in tatters the question we at M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment have been asking ourselves is, much like everyone else in the industry, what now?

The first thing to say is that sport and entertainment have rightly been put on the back burner as the necessary and immediate steps are taken to safeguard our health’s and health services’. And whilst the bans on mass gatherings and safeguarding measures will continue as long as they must, business too must go on. The fundamental importance of this cannot be overstated, our clients still need us to help them trade and do business whilst audiences still need entertainment and escapism, arguably more than ever. The wheels must continue to turn.  More

Sponsorium Pledges Action Plan To Help Sponsorship Industry Globally And Offers Services To Brands For Free

As a direct consequence of governments across all continents banning public gatherings until further notice, thus forcing the cancellation or indefinite postponing of thousands of sporting, cultural or community events worldwide, Sponsorium is calling upon the sponsorship industry to mobilise.

With companies are forced to cut costs, with marketing budgets likely at the top of the list, management could question, amongst other things, the value of their sponsorship programmes. 

Sponsorium recommends the following best practice for rights holders to keep their sponsorship deals alive:

1. Send a message to your sponsors, offering your help. Find the area, on a case by case, where your event or project can benefit them during the growing state of emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. If you can, provide additional data on your event or project, i.e surveys or research.

3. Offer a free PR campaign to your sponsors if you can.

4. With the Olympics being postponed, there will be new opportunities available. Think of offering additional sponsorship opportunities that would add value and strengthen your sponsorship agreement.

5. Share the following link with your preferred sponsors as a gesture of goodwill:

Paul Pednault, CEO, says “Sponsorium is in a unique position to offer corporate sponsors worldwide some added support which we hope can help ease the strain on their resources in the coming weeks/months.”

Sponsorium, a leader in cloud platforms for sponsors to assess, manage and report on their sponsorship activities, is offering its platform services for free during the pandemic.




What is a Sponsorship Award? For individuals as well as businesses We're here to help you succeed!
Winning a Sponsorship Award isn't just a pat on the back and a splendid trophy to dress your foyer (though it’s certainly that as well), it brings with it tangible benefits and long-lasting commercial impact. Click here for ten reasons why you should enter and a host of testimonials from winners. The sponsorship industry is peopled by fantastically enthusiastic and dynamic individuals. We recognise these executives in two categories. For more information on these categories, please click here. We are also on hand for any help/advice you might need, so please click on the Help! button, send us an email and we will come back to you by return.

It doesn't have to be an Awards related query - if we don't know the answer, we’ll find someone who does.

View the 2022 Book of the Night

View the 2019 Winners

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The awards in a nutshell

What is a Sponsorship Award?

Winning a Sponsorship Award isn't just a pat on the back and a splendid trophy to dress your foyer (though it’s certainly that as well), it brings with it tangible benefits and long-lasting commercial impact. Click here for ten reasons why you should enter and a host of testimonials from winners.

For individuals as well as businesses

The sponsorship industry is peopled by fantastically enthusiastic and dynamic individuals. We recognise these executives in two categories. For more information on these categories, please click here.

We're here to help you succeed!

We are also on hand for any help/advice you might need, so please click on the Help! button, send us an email and we will come back to you by return.

It doesn't have to be an Awards related query - if we don't know the answer, we’ll find someone who does.