Gala Dinner 24 March 2020 - Book now!

Could It Be You? A Look Back At 'Sponsorships Of The Year' - 2010-2019

With deadline for entering the 2020 UK Sponsorship Awards  upon us, we are taking a trip back down memory lane. Below are the 10 campaigns chosen by our judges as the UK Sponsorships of the Year between 2010 and 2019. If you want to try and add your brand to this prestigious list, enter here! 

Don't forget that the UK Sponsorship Awards also provide opportunities to celebrate the achievements of individuals – not just brands, consultancies and rights holders. The UKSA Champions of Sponsorship initiative, for example, shines a spotlight on some of the most talented and influential figures in the sponsorship and partnership sector. Champions consists of up to five awards covering the full gamut of sponsorship activities: Arts & Entertainment, Sport, Community, Media and Innovation. All we need is your recommendation with a couple of paragraphs outlining why you are nominating this individual sent to  Deadline: February 14 2020.

Meanwhile, The Barrie Gill Award for Most Promising Young Sponsorship Executive recognises young executives (27 or under) working within agencies, client companies or rights holders who are making a significant impact within their organisation and the sector at large. In this category, judges need a profile outlining what in particular makes this candidate exceptional, how he/she has impacted on your business, exceeded expectations on particular tasks and campaigns and how this translates into future career development. Deadline: February 14 2020.

And now back to our roll of honour. Over the course of the last decade, the top Award has gone to one bank, one beer, a sportswear company, a water brand, a soft drinks brand (not the ones you might expect), a consumer electronics giant, a utility, a media company and a mobile network (the same one twice). Sports sponsorships have won nine out of ten times – but soccer has only come out on top once. Indeed, all nine winning sports sponsorships came from different sporting disciplines. To find out which brands won and why – keep reading.

2019: Evian & Wimbledon

Sponsored by Evian and entered by Wavemaker, this entry saw the best of Wimbledon brought to life through Evian’s distinctive Live Young lens. In order to create daily digital content, the brand was given unrivalled access around the grounds. The campaign drove a significant increase in awareness and ultimately a more premium perception. Individual elements of the campaign surpassed their KPIs, while the overall campaign exceeded its objectives. Delivered during a competitive summer period, the campaign increased brand preference and propensity to purchase – as well as boosting sales in major retailers such as Tesco and Boots. As a footnote, it’s interesting to observe that Evian and Wimbledon also won way back in 2009!

2018: NatWest & ECB - Cricket Knows No Boundaries

In 2017, NatWest evolved the role sponsorship plays in its business by aligning it to a higher purpose and promoting solutions to an issue of social importance. It did so to underpin its new brand promise ‘We are what we do’, inviting customers to judge the bank on its actions. As part of this, NatWest and the ECB launched ‘Cricket has no boundaries’, a campaign that celebrates diversity and inclusivity in England & Wales. Cricket has no boundaries had an immediate impact on NatWest’s brand, with an uplift in people viewing it as an inclusive brand. This, in turn, led to a growth in consideration amongst those aware of the sponsorship. In addition, it proved a valuable platform for engagement with employees, clients and other stakeholders.

2017: Samsung & Olympics - School of Rio

Sponsored by Samsung and entered by M&C Saatchi Sport and Entertainment, the School of Rio/Step into Rio campaign was an extension of Samsung’s equally popular 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign. By utilising the comic talents of Jack Whitehall and the expertise of Olympic and Paralympic athletes, Samsung School of Rio proved a big success on many levels. In addition to achieving high levels of engagement on digital media platforms, the campaign achieved strong scores for brand awareness, brand love and brand consideration. Innovations included world-first VR interviews.

2016: O2 Rugby & England Rugby: Wear The Rose

Sponsored by O2 and entered by M&C Saatchi S&E, Wear the Rose Live was about bringing together O2’s two biggest sponsorships, The O2 and England Rugby, in support of England’s participation in the Rugby World Cup. A hugely impactful campaign it delivered across all media and provided a powerful platform through which to reward O2 customers. Using the rose as the symbol, O2 generated 5.4 million acts of support across the Rugby World Cup time period. O2 called it “emotive and behaviour-led sponsorship marketing that stayed true to our values: putting customers first and personal enablement”.

2015: IRN-BRU & Glasgow 2014: Born To Support

Sponsored by Irn-Bru and entered by IMG, this campaign used the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games to re-affirm IRN- BRU’s status as one of Scotland’s most popular drinks brand. By delivering a single-minded campaign, having some fun and creating some unforgettable experiences, Irn-Bru became one of the most memorable sponsors of Glasgow 2014. By leveraging national pride and creating memorable and enjoyable moments for consumers, it met or surpassed all its business objectives. Particularly impressive was that the company’s turnover increased by 5.45% over the campaign period, with 69% of customers thinking the Glasgow 2014 sponsorship was appropriate.

2014: Adidas & Team Messi

Sponsored by adidas and entered by iris Culture, this entry saw one of the world’s biggest sportswear brands join forces with one of the world’s most talented football stars, Lionel Messi. By adding great creativity and a range of activation strategies into the mix, the use of Messi as the spearhead of this campaign delivered way ahead of expectations. With Team Messi-related sales conversion levels higher than the football category norm, the global revenue forecast for Messi icon products was 17% ahead of projections in year one. The positive impact of Team Messi was felt across a range of markets including Spain, France, Italy, Brazil, Germany, UK, Japan, China and USA.

2013: Sky & British Cycling

Sponsored and entered by Sky, this ground-breaking partnership supported cycling from playground to podium. Although the elite end of this partnership later ran into a series of controversies, it did deliver success at major events – and encouraged one million more people to cycle. Overall, Sky’s support for British cycling helped deliver 34 medals at London 2012 and resulted in 1.15 million extra cyclists taking to the road. In terms of brand benefits, favourability towards Sky as a brand increased by a healthy 7% year on year because of the sponsorship. An impressive 62% of the population was aware of Sky’s support for cycling in the UK, thanks to initiatives like Sky Rides, the grass roots component of the partnership between the two.

2012: O2 & Academy/Live Nation

Sponsored by O2 and entered by pd3, O2’s Academy sponsorship was an innovative arrangement with Live Nation that harnessed the core audience experience to achieve brand objectives. The partnership delivered great results for the brand. Forty six percent  of customers felt closer to O2 because of their music sponsorship - and 67% at O2 Academy gigs said they were more likely to stay as an O2 customer. In addition, 33% of non-O2 customers at O2 Academy gigs said they were more likely to switch to O2 because of their sponsorship. This showed that the sponsorship was doing brand loyalty and customer acquisition jobs.

2011: British Gas & British Swimming

Sponsored by British Gas and entered by Carat Sponsorship, this partnership with British Swimming was a way of turning around public perceptions of the utility brand. By the end of 2010, a comprehensive commitment to the sport helped the brand exceed its targets. With huge positive shifts in consumer attitudes to the brand, it was proof that a well-executed sponsorship can deliver both pro-social and commercial benefits. As part of its commitment to swimming, BG and Carat also created Pools 4 Schools - a programme that transformed the way swimming was delivered in schools and communities. At the time of the Awards, British Gas was on course to teach 20,000 children to swim by April 2011. A big innovation was the development of temporary pool units to combat the problem of pool closures.

2010: John Smith & The Aintree Grand National


Sponsored by John Smith’s and entered by SBI, this partnership with the Grand National was in its sixth year when it took UKSA’s top accolade. During that time, the beer brand consolidated its position as market leader through excellent consumer and b2b activations. A textbook strategy, John Smith's Grand National ticked all the boxes: strong sales, positive PR, high-profile media exposure and excellent hospitality. A major success was the creation of the John Smith's People's Race, an important asset in its own right. Not to be overlooked is that it also helped revive interest in this great race.

Sponsorship Trends And Predictions

As 2020 gets into gear, the UKSA editorial team looks back at our 2019 forecasts and explore how close they were to hitting the mark. Gluttons for punishment, we have also suggested a few new themes that are set to impact on sponsorship during 2020.

Esports moves mainstream: Last year, we predicted that more brands would follow the likes of Mastercard into esports. Sure enough, Nike signed its first esports deal in February 2019 with China’s League of Legends Pro League (this incidentally also fits under our Asia heading below). As a sector, esports has been keen to reach out to non-endemic sponsors – and data from Nielsen shows that this really started to happen in 2018/19. Car brands in particular seem to embracing the sector, with Honda, Nissan and Kia joining BMW. 2020 is likely to see further activity – especially now that esports companies are attempting to address concerns about audience measurement. In 2020, perhaps we’ll see examples of brands seeking to join the dots between traditional sport and esports in terms of activation.

Sustainability in sponsorship: 2018 saw the issue of single use plastic suddenly rise to prominence – but 2019 was even more dynamic in terms of environmental activism. Extinction Rebellion, the Brazilian and Amazonian forest fires and, of course, Greta, have made sure the survival of the planet has been front of mind throughout the year. The BBC and David Attenborough also shifted away from their relatively neutral stance on the environment in 2019. We predicted that brands would work harder to promote their green credentials to customers – and this has proven to be the case – though not necessarily in the context of sponsorship. The most obvious example is the retailers’ war on single use plastic, though an increasing number of polluters are seeking to up their game on recycling and through schemes that aim to deliver carbon neutrality. At time of writing, the major impact of the environmental crisis on sponsorship has been the pressure in arts institutions to cut ties with BP. An obvious question is whether this kind of activism will increase in 2020. One thing for brands to think about is this piece of research which suggests that the overwhelming majority of consumers are looking for ethical leadership from brands.

Sponsorship sectors under scrutiny: 2019 saw continued pressure for regulation of the UK betting industry’s sponsorship arrangements. At the start of 2019, we suggested that rights holders themselves might start to hesitate about working with betting sponsors as a way of protecting their reputation MORE


UK Sponsorship Awards 2020 - Final Deadline January 17 2020

The 26th Anniversary edition of the Awards retains many of its popular categories (arts, sport, consultancy, media, etc), but has also introduced a range of innovations and enhancements to reflect the dynamic nature of the market. These include a one-off Craft & Creativity Award (2020 Vision) and a special category targeting all World Cup sponsorships that were activated in the last year. In addition, there are opportunities to win in areas such as social purpose, PR, mass participation, research and innovation. 

With the issue of gender equality still prominent in wider society, one of this year’s most significant categories will be Best Sponsorship of Women’s Activities. No less important however are the Sustainability Sponsorship category and Best Use of Sponsorship To Encourage Diversity & Inclusion. For a full list of categories go here.

UKSA organiser Rosemary Sarginson said: “This has been another intriguing year for the UK sponsorship industry as brands seek to navigate the Greta Thunberg effect, the rise of the streamers and the never-ending Brexit saga; all while trying to get inside the heads of the Insta/esports/festival-loving youth audience. Our categories are designed to try and tell the story of the industry, while celebrating the hard work and creativity that goes into a great campaign.”

While the early bird deadline is UKSA’s first call to action and offers a discounted rate, there is still plenty of time in the New Year to enter the Awards. The final deadline is January 17, 2020 and the Awards Gala Dinner itself is on March 24 at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square.  We're delighted that our host will be BBC Royal Correspondent Jonny Dymond.  

How To Enter

For more information on How To Enter the 2020 UKSA Awards contact Rosie Sarginson or follow this link to registration. Don’t miss out on one of the industry event highlights of the year.

Why You Should Enter

Here is a background article that spells out some of the reasons for getting involved. You could also look at this article in which some of our experienced UKSA judges explain their likes and dislikes.

How To Win

The awards aim to reflect current trends in the industry as closely as possible and are judged by leading execs from across the sponsorship sector, including several on the client-side. To get an idea of what they will be looking for, here’s an article that provides a few tips about how to win or get on the finalists’ shortlist. And here's an article that relates to the consultancies categories.


Craft & Creativity in Sponsorship - 10 Standout Campaigns Across The Years 

Many elements go into making a great sponsorship, but often the things that leave a lasting impression on people are the ingenious craft and creativity at the heart of a campaign. That’s why the organisers of the UK Sponsorship Awards have introduced a special one-off award for the event’s 2020 edition.

The new 2020 Vision Award is looking 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.

Unlike campaign results, of course, craft and creativity are relatively subjective terms. So to some extent it will be up to entrants to present a persuasive case as to why their chosen campaign deserves to win this new category. But to help frame people’s thoughts, here are ten examples of past campaigns that UKSA thinks captures the spirit of the 2020 Vision Award.  Click here to see the 10 standout campaigns.

The UK Sponsorship Awards 2020:  Question Of Judgement

As the early bird deadline for the 2020 UK Sponsorship Awards fast approaches, the UKSA team asked a few of last year’s judges to share some insights about what they look for in an entry and why they get involved. Below is a distilled summary of their answers…


“Objectives, insights and innovation”

Jeremy Edwards, founder and director of content at Activative, has been ploughing through UKSA entries for years. Summarising what he looks for in a shortlisted entry, he says it all boils down to: “Objectives, insights and innovation – and, of course, it helps if the campaign works too!”

Pet hates include “retrofitting”, where brands have attempted to rewrite their objectives to fit the results they end up with. However, he is a fan of entries “that are activated with bravery, creativity and originality. I’m looking for initiatives with clear strategic/tactical objectives, built on fresh and contemporary socio-cultural insights.”

As for why he gives up his free time to judge entries every year, he explains that it is an opportunity “to learn from the best work and to debate what that means with key industry leaders”. 

“Shining a light on inequality”

Another UKSA stalwart is Tove Okunniwa, the former CEO of Havas Sports & Entertainment who now runs London Sport. She recalls that one of her favourite 2019 campaigns was #ThisIsOurTime by Skoda, winner of the Best Sponsorship of Women’s Activities category. “It shone a light on the inequality women are tolerating in pro cycling and the amazing talent, grit, professionalism and grace of the women involved. Also the bravery of a brand like Skoda to take a position that may be at odds with the rights owner it sponsors. And it worked.”

“Tangible results” are key for Okunniwa – but like Edwards she places a premium on “creativity and breaking new ground”. Her harshest criticism is reserved for “overclaiming. Saying you were first when it’s been done before, or you’ve had more impact than you really did.”

As for why she keeps coming back for more, she emphasises the appeal of the work: “It’s a real privilege to be able to hear about the best work currently in the industry in the words of the creators”.  MORE

Challenging Times For The Arts 

Ever since the emergence of sport, music and media as preferred destinations for sponsors, arts institutions have found it challenging to secure commercial partners. But the job has become even harder in the last couple of years as a growing number of stakeholders within the arts community and beyond have started to question the company that some of the UK’s most illustrious arts organisations and events keep.

Oil giant BP, for example, has been a lightning rod for criticism, with opponents objecting to its links with the Royal Opera House, British Museum, National Portrait Gallery and Royal Shakespeare Company. Such is the pressure that has been brought to bear that the RSC decided, last week, to end its partnership with BP two years early. The National Theatre has followed suit by severing links with Shell. As the result, other institutions, already subjected to numerous protests and complaints, are likely to face strong calls to follow suit.   MORE

How to win a UK Sponsorship Award 2020 - Winning Tips for Entrants

The UK Sponsorship Awards team is about to embark on the annual process of rounding up entries, selecting winners and finalists and preparing for the big night (March 24th 2020, London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square). For some companies, entering the Awards is a well-trodden path; but for anyone new to the process it can appear quite daunting. So to help those of you who aren't familiar with the format, we have pulled together a few insights into what it takes to win a UK Sponsorship Award. This, of course, is not a guarantee of success. But it should at least help hone your approach as you starting drafting your entry.

It's worth stressing at the outset that, for the most part, the sponsorships that win or get nominated do so because they are the best. Look down 2019’s list of luminaries and you'll see a diverse range of big and small brands from a variety of industrial categories. These companies are marketing-led organisations which understand brand communications implicitly. So it is not unreasonable to suppose they might be best in class – particularly after their entries have been scrutinised by judges from all sides of the sponsorship business.

But this point aside, there are a number of key observations that the judges have made over the years about the quality and composition of the entries they review. There's no question that, down the years, we have seen some entries that could have been category winners – if they'd stuck to the basic guidelines outlined below:

The Entry is Everything

It sounds obvious – but the judges can only make their decision based on the information you supply. As industry professionals, we all walk into the judging room knowing a reasonable amount about some of 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 un-level 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.  MORE

UK Sponsorship Awards (UKSA) Unveils World Cup Sponsorship Category For 2020 Edition Of Event

The organisers of the UK Sponsorship Awards (UKSA) are delighted to announce a one-off World Cup Sponsorship category for the 2020 edition of the event. Alongside all of the usual categories, the 'Best World Cup Sponsorship' category will celebrate campaigns connected to any World Cup played within the qualifying period.

High-profile events to have taken place this year include the Cricket World Cup, the Rugby World Cup (pending) and a breakthrough edition of the FIFA Women’s Football World Cup. However, any other sponsorship created around a sporting World Cup is eligible.

UKSA organiser Rosemary Sarginson said: “World Cup sponsorships are very complex – requiring lengthy pre-event preparation followed by an enormous burst of activity during the event itself. With on-field and off-field events both providing an air of unpredictability, such sponsorships demand commercial bravery and agility. In such a busy year of World Cups, the UKSA team felt that now was the perfect time to shine a spotlight on this dynamic area of sponsorship.”

To win this category, entries will need to meet all the usual criteria – clear objectives, creative executions and strong campaign results. Judges will pay special attention to the reasons why this mode of sponsorship made sense, and how the brand in question took advantage of the unique attributes associated with World Cups.



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.

Campaign of the Week

Redbrand specialist speakers








Think Sponsorship


Awards Intelligence


Sport & Recreation Alliance



Sport england

Awards Intelligence

Sport england



Women in Sport

PA Images

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.