FOCUS: SPONSORSHIP; Sponsors enjoy a sporting chance

BROADCAST: Prime time sports events offer the sort of TV coverage that’s worth mega bucks to sponsors ENVIRONMENT: Rank Xerox throws its weight behind a campaign to support eco-systems threatened by tourism COMMUNITY CONCERN: Corporate giants are using local sports to show a more caring face to the community

BROADCAST: Prime time sports events offer the sort of TV coverage

that’s worth mega bucks to sponsors

ENVIRONMENT: Rank Xerox throws its weight behind a campaign to support

eco-systems threatened by tourism

COMMUNITY CONCERN: Corporate giants are using local sports to show a

more caring face to the community

Companies are seizing on sponsorship as an effective way of raising

profiles and projecting core values. But success lies as much in

targeting as deal-making. Jeremy Slater reports

It is a desperate maul this newish game called TV sponsorship. One

player goes down and has, by the rules, to release the ball, while

others go over the top to get their hands on the prize. Having won it,

the team charges forward towards the goal line of greater public

awareness and higher sales.

The game is likely to get more frenetic with sports coverage

increasingly moving from the public BBC to the privately-owned BSkyB.

With each new event added to Sky’s roster the revenues from broadcast

sponsorship grow - empowering Rupert Murdoch, 40 per cent shareholder in

BSkyB, to consider more audacious take-over plots.

Within the past few weeks discussions with European Rugby Unions over

the future of the Five Nations tournament have taken place. It is

unlikely the BBC could match Sky’s pounds 200 million offer, despite its

long-term hold on the tournament. The only sticking point now seems to

be the level of control to be levied by Sky. While in recent weeks

BSkyB, which already shows the biennial golfing competition the Ryder

Cup, has been offered the British Open for pounds 25 million over the

next five years. The BBC at the moment is reported to pay an apparent

peppercorn of pounds 1 million a year.

Those who defend such deals say Murdoch has changed sport for the

better and given the British public more of what it always wanted. He

has also been instrumental in creating a television sponsorship market

worth, at Mintel’s estimate, over pounds 100 million. Since 1988, the

availability of satellite and cable services has incrfeased the amount

of sport shown on TV from 3,000 hours per year to 12,000 and it is

estimated that the rights to a major sporting event cost at least pounds

2 million.

‘The future of sponsorship is broadcast-led and the market is in its

very infancy,’ says Mark Wood, head of sponsorship at BSkyB. ‘When Sky

takes on a sport we bring much more to it than any other broadcaster. We

give the sport more analysis, more flexibility and more coverage than

anyone else.’

However, there is growing cross-party concern in Parliament about

Murdoch’s burgeoning sports empire. The 1990 Broadcasting Act is under

review. The ‘listed’ events, which cannot be shown on pay-per-view

channels currently include the Olympic Games, Test cricket in England,

Wimbledon Finals Weekend, the Grand National, the Derby, the English and

Scottish FA Cup Finals and the FIFA World Cup Finals.

Recent amendments to the Broadcasting Bill now seek to extend this

protection to prohibit further major sports events being bought up by

subscription channels such as Sky Sports. These amendments are due to be

discussed by the Lords in a committee of the whole House this week.

Significantly, Murdoch’s bid for European coverage of the Olympic Games

in 2004 and 2008 has failed. Despite being offered dollars 2 billion,

the International Olympic Committee has plumped for the European

Broadcasting Union’s bid of dollars 1.2 billion.

In terms of total growth, the overall market for broadcast sponsorship

has increased by 20 per cent a year, according to David Prosser, head of

sponsorship at Carlton UK. ‘ITV takes 50 per cent of the market and we

expect sport to help grow that.’

The only brake on growth for the market as a whole is likely to be a

shortage of truly top class events. Both golf and athletics have been

accused of organising events which seem to have little competitive

meaning and therefore little impact with the public.

‘The number of top sports events available to sponsors is coming down,’

says Jim O’Toole, director of Scope: Sponsorship. ‘Most of the big deals

have been done and are tied up for a few years. The big properties are

just not there anymore. If a client came to me and said they wanted to

spend pounds 2 million, it would be difficult to find them a suitable

event.’ O’Toole also claims that sponsorship agencies missed the

sporting gravy train in the early 1990s, losing out to media buyers.

However, Teresa Cash, director at Michael Humphreys and Partners,

believes sponsorship companies are more sophisticated than their media

rivals. ‘People are taking on sponsorship, because they don’t want mass

coverage or broad brush approach. As sponsorship consultants we

understand that,’ she says.

Cash agrees that the top end of the market is tightening and that growth

is going to be slow. She also believes the massive amounts that have

been spent on blue chip events have had an effect on less popular

sports. ‘Lower down the scale it is getting tougher. There is a constant

striving to create new things and invent new events, because these

sports need the money,’ says Cash. ‘Sport is crowding its own market.’

There are some successes in the sports little league. Basketball, which

has claimed breakthroughs in popularity before, says that it is now a

well-supported indoor sport. Attendance has been as high as 12,500 at

the Nynex Stadium in Manchester and the 13 teams feature regularly on

Sky Sports. The league and the programme are both backed by Budweiser -

the TV deal is thought to be worth a six-figure sum.

But it isn’t just cost that dampens the appeal of television in terms of

sponsorship, but also targeting. Carlsberg, a former sponsor of Channel

4’s Italian football coverage, pulled out of the deal two years ago.

‘Football Italia was a valuable thing to do, but our strategy behind

Carlsberg Export changed and we decided not to renew our contract,’

explains John Slade, marketing controller of Carlsberg.

The company has no current plans for TV deals but will continue its link

with football through Euro 96, where Carlsberg is the official beer, and

through its Pub Cup competition (see panel).

Media sponsorship is expected to grow substantially by the year 2000

with the rise of advertising-funded programmes and the backing of

business and community slots. Sports’ share of this market is likely to

depend on the success of BSkyB and other commercial channels in securing

enough products to offer.

Case Study: Rank Xerox commits itself to the environment

Rank Xerox, one of the global sponsors of the Atlanta Olympics later

this year, has recently announced its support for environmental charity

Centre for Environmentally Responsible Tourism (CERT). The reason for

this departure from its more usual sport commitments is a desire for the

company to underline its ‘green’ credentials.

Until recently the manufacture of photocopiers created recycling

problems. This was particularly the case with the central copying

cylinder. Such difficulties have now apparently been overcome and to

emphasise Xerox’s concern with the environment it has donated around

pounds 10,000 to CERT which is run by Will Travers, whose father Bill

Travers was made famous by the 1960s wildlife film Born Free. The

charity was set up to make tour operators aware of the damage done to

the environment by holiday making and encourage a more caring approach.

CERT particularly targets holiday firms with ties to areas which have

delicate eco-systems - on which unlimited numbers of tourists could have

a catastrophic effect, especially areas of Africa and South America.

Xerox’s involvement with Travers helped with the production of campaign

material and the search for other sponsors.

‘What Xerox has done is talk to a number of tour operators about the

scheme and put money into the project,’ says Jim O’Toole, director at

Scope: Sponsorship.

‘The company made a corporate citizen decision to be involved in the

environment,’ he added.

Rank Xerox also continues its links with sport. Recently it has given

pounds 5,000 to young triple jumper Tosi Fasinro to help in his bid for

a place in the British Olympic team.

‘Helping young athletes fits in with Xerox’s mission statement about

commitment, excellence, preparation and setting goals,’ says O’Toole.

Case study: Carlsberg scores well with pub football

Carlsberg is pretty big in football. Not only will it be backing Euro 96

this summer in addition to its Total Football package, and sponsoring

Liverpool FC to the tune of pounds 1.5 million but it is also starting

to run a pub football competition.

The Carlsberg Pub Cup focuses on men who like to sweat off the effects

of a Saturday night with a Sunday morning football game. A Cup

competition run by Carlsberg and fully endorsed by the Football

Association, gives them the chance to play the Pub Cup final at Wembley

Stadium. The deal is thought to be worth well into six figures.

The 400 or so competing teams have played local knock-out games

organised in conjunction with the FA’s County Associations and then

moved on to regional finals - the semi-finals will be played at

Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium in April.

An incentive for making it through to the regional finals is that teams

can call on the coaching skills of Mark Lawrenson, a member of Liverpool

League champion of the 1980s.

‘The Carlsberg Pub Cup allows us to put something back into the game and

involves us in football at international, Premiership and amateur

levels,’ says John Slade, marketing controller of Carlsberg.

The Pub Cup is part of Carlsberg’s marketing strategy to back events,

rather than to just be associated with the broadcaster or programme


‘Carlsberg is putting money into the events themselves. We are not

looking actively over the next six months to sponsor any broadcast, but

obviously we do know the strengths and weakness of TV,’ says Slade.

The Pub Cup final will be played at Wembley on 12 May and will proceed

to the semi-professional FA Vase Final, which is also sponsored by


Plans are also afoot to expand the competition into Scotland and Wales,

while on the continent Denmark already has its own version of the Cup

and Spain and Italy may also follow suit.

Community: Corporate bodies reveal caring faces

According to Mintel, the total spend on sponsorship for 1994 in the UK

amounted to pounds 415 million. Broken down into percentages, sport

received 64 per cent, broadcast 17 per cent, arts 12 per cent and

community ventures 6 per cent. Unfortunately an exact figure for

charities isn’t available, but it can be assumed that charities take

their share from the figures for sport, the arts and the community.

There is no doubt that charities have become more professional in their

approach to fund raising in the past few years and have increased

support from the corporate sector. However, some companies see

charitable giving as a means of creating a role for the company in the

local community.

One such company is the TSB, which uses its backing of athletics in the

UK as an umbrella to ensure the bank’s involvement not just with senior

athletes, but right down to the school level. As well as sponsoring

athletics with a pounds 10 million deal over five years the bank also

gives pounds 500,000 to education and pounds 350,000 to general

sponsorships in the local community.

‘One end is involved in the senior side of the sport and at the other we

support fun runs and school activities,’ says Richard Ellis, head of


The TSB Foundations give one per cent of pre-tax profits to local

charities and good causes. As part of its educational commitment, the

bank’s school liaison officers help senior pupils with CVs, presentation

and interview skills and money management.

‘The TSB sees its athletics connection as a platform for a dialogue

with young people. Senior athletes give us street cred when we’re

working at a local level,’ says Ellis.

Branch managers are given a local budget for involvement in their

communities. One TSB bank donated a trophy to the Kelso Flower Show

while others have backed local rugby teams or carnivals.

‘The intention of this is to show that we at the TSB are good corporate

citizens,’ says Ellis.

Another company seeking this title is the power company the National

Grid. It gives pounds 150,000 to what it calls ‘groundwork initiatives

to support the environment’ and a further pounds 150,000 to the wildlife

charity the Royal Society for Nature Conservation, whose president is

David Attenborough.

‘The National Grid has considerable amounts of land around its sub-

stations for which it is responsible. With the RSNC we look after the

habitat and wildlife,’ says Jim Leach, group executive publicity at the

National Grid. One charity which has a heavy link with sport is St John

Ambulance. In October it started its second ‘Breath of Life’ campaign,

which teaches life-saving skills to the public. For the project it

secured a sizeable piece of industrial conglomerate Hanson’s annual

pounds 1.5 million charitable donation.

‘Although much of Hanson’s donations are aimed at young people who are

our future, the Breath of Life campaign supported our desires for a

better life as well as a better future,’ says Aviva Gershuny-Roth, head

of industrial public relations at Hanson.

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