Sponsored by… Not the Royal Baby

With all the interest in sponsoring key sporting events, it is good to see that brands are investing in the big screen from product placement through campaigns up the release date. It is not just big sporting events such as the Olympics that are receiving major interest from brands, Hollywood are getting in on the act too. Earlier this week, I was speaking with my colleague, Antony Collyer about sponsorship in all its shapes and forms. I’ve blogged about this before, but he had some great thoughts that I wanted to share with you.

He notes that with this summer’s blockbusters hotting up, all the hype that  revolved around the release of Man of Steel. Nokia, Lidl and French Connection were amongst the brands running campaigns and products to support the release following the success of brands supporting other blockbusters such as Dark Knight Rises and Skyfall. So are the big studios becoming slaves to the financial muscle of big brands, looking for global associations with a box office smash? And how much of a gamble is this for brands?

Brands have long been keen on product placement on the big screen, thinking specifically Italian Job (Mini), Back to the Future (Nike), Top Gun (Ray-Ban), and Antony’s personal favourite – FedEx / Wilson saving Chuck Noland’s life in Cast Away. In the current climate, brands seem to be prepared to go above and beyond more than ever to be visible amongst audiences

Last year Heineken spent £30m (a rumoured 1/3 of the total production costs) on Skyfall, for our blonde Bond to devote just seconds of airtime, switching his traditional Martini for the Dutch fizz in the feature film with the strapline ‘open your world’. Heineken also used Bond images on packaging and focused on a series of short ads encouraging cross platform interaction through social media:

Figures suggest Heineken sales volumes rose 5.3% in 2012 and like-for-like volumes of Heineken grew 3.7% in Western Europe (source: THE DRINKS BUSINESS http://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2013/02/bond-gives-heineken-a-sales-boost/).

The ads were perhaps a factor in the growth in sales, but are such vast sums required in order to see a return?  Our learnings show that , maintaining creative and message synergy across all channels is key in order to most effectively persuade audiences in both the short and long term. But how many aspiring James Bond’s would choose a Heineken over a more traditional shaken not stirred Martini? In this case, the power of “brand heritage” could prevail towards the latter.

In short, sponsorship can definitely be another tool in the arsenal, but the ultimate question is one of brand fit. As I’ve mentioned in the past, these days communication on your creative strategy is more like quilting – pulling different pieces together to create a whole. So, while each individual piece might look a little different, in the most beautiful quilts there is a commonality (tone, theme, colour palette, what have you) that creates the whole picture. If you’re considering sponsorship, be true to your brand’s identity for the best pay-off.

Tara Beard-Knowland is a Director at Ipsos ASI. She thanks her colleague Antony Collyer for his contributions to this piece. Follow Ipsos ASI on Twitter @IpsosASIUK.

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