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The Smart Choice is Sponsorship

With audiences becoming savvy to advertising, and more importnantly how to avoid it, how can businesses reach them? Done well and placed appropriately, sponsorship can associate your message with something that audiences want. Be it their favourite TV show, a popular event or an expert article, they're much more likely to listen when you have their full attention.

Take TV; the effectiveness of television commercials is under scrutiny as ad revenues decline. "Viewers aren't always viewing ads anymore," Sir Alan Sugar said at a recent Marketing Society conference. "They've programmed the ads out with the help of set-top boxes. Everyone I know who has one is doing it." According to the BBc, 90% of ads are skipped by viewers when using this technology, and its use is growing.

However, despite ITV seeing major downturns in sales of television advertising in the last year, it actually saw a 19% rise in sponsorship revenues in the first half of the year. Flagship shows like 'Celebrity Love Island', 'I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here', and 'The X Factor' are all under corporate sponsorship.

So what's the appeal? TV sponsorship gets around new challenges, sucha s audiences skipping the ad breaks, by embedding the message and branding in the programme itself.

What's more, further opportunities for associated sales are created when the sponsor and what they're sponsoring naturally complement each other.

Sponsored by Nokia, 'The X Factor' also sells complementary products such as mobile phone wallpapers and ringtones. The link between mobile phone company sponsorhip of content, and content branded mobile phone products is obvious, and the result is increased revenues for both parties. When productive collaboration between complementary brands works well, the rewards can be huge for all involved.

It's not limited to television either. Live music venues, festivals, sports teams, all offer sponsorship opportunities aimed at very specific groups. These allow brands to associate with lifestyles, rather than simply products, and trade off the core values of the event, venue, team or individual they are sponsoring.

Network VEKA sponsors Steve Davis, the six times snooker world champion, whose brand values of reliability, consistency, longetivity and a 'safe pair of hands' reflect the Network VEKA 'Reliable in the Extreme' strapline. This endorsement is working in a number of areas, not just TV, including exhibitions, local events, press advertising, vehicles, showrooms and personal appearances.

So we know there are valuable opportunities up for grabs in the home improvements industry, in both consumer and business to business environments.

Television sponsorship is a great opportunity, providing a natural link can be drawn between the product and the programme it's attached to. Sports team or event sponsorship is also a good bet, especially when talking to the traditional home improvements target market of the over 35s.

And opportunities in the trade press are numerous; from sponsorship of articles or market research reports, to sponsored 'fantasy leagues' that encourage customers to regularly engage with the corporate message by way of playing the game.

Sponsorship can also help build reputation as well as awareness. Seminar or exhibition sponsorship positions companies as industry spokespeople, leading the debate on the issues covered.

The digital revolution has arrived and the marketing terrain is changing for good. Companies who want to move forward need to define how and where their brand will communicate with their customers and prospects. Sponsorship is a useful way of building awareness, changing perceptions and growing sales, but it must be done with careful thought and pinpoint targeting if it is to make an impact. Is it time you reaped the rewards of sponsorship?

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