Sports Sponsorship management -

MANAGING A SPORTS EVENT SPONSORSHIP FOR A NATIONAL COMPANY


THE SITUATION

One of New Zealand's largest and oldest life insurance companies had undertaken research which showed it lacked visibility in their largest potential market - Auckland. Having recently undergone a name change, there was a clear need to supplement the usual means of communication through advertising, direct mail and media activity , with sponsorship of a major sporting or cultural event. The new chief executive asked the Consultancy to assist in obtaining sponsorship rights to New Zealand's biggest fun run, Round The Bays, and if successful, to manage the promotion and public relations programme for the company.

THE PROGRAMME

We wrote the proposal to the organising committee which secured this sought after sponsorship ahead of two multi - national companies. By this time, the event itself was only five months away - half the normal time frame usually available to organise a programme for an event of such magnitude. The race organisers had also decided to add a new element to the event - a competitive section, which had also to be explained to the public.

We recommended a launch function at which the new ' logo ' would be unveiled and to attract media attention, preceded by a novelty race down the main city shopping thoroughfare. The race consisted of teams of four athletes from various groups and organisations, pulling harness racing sulkies which were ' driven ' by the five mayors of the major cities in the region, plus two media personalities and the chief executive of the sponsoring company. This occurred two months before race day proper.

In the lead up to the event we organised regular weekly news releases about the race, covering aspects of the organisation, personalities involved, new elements which needed explanation and general information. Six radio stations were involved in promoting the event. In the seven days before the race, regular ' phone - outs ' were organised with three stations to increase the flow of information.

We recommended and organised : the building of a ' lighthouse ' , the company's symbol, which was towed to promotional sites by trailer for display purposes ; a huge banner for draping across the frontage of the company's Auckland office block to promote runner registration ; banners to be hung on lighting poles and on other high density traffic routes around the city - promoting registration and the date of the event ; special T shirts to be printed; a video of the launch event to be shown to staff at other cities and towns to enthuse them about the event ; crisis management when a story broke in the media that barbed wire may be used to ' control ' athletes at the start ; coordinated placing of signs at the finish and presentation sites.

On the day of the event, two consultants assisted with media liaison, cooperated with organisers, minor sponsors and VIPs, and directed still and video photographers. After the event, we coordinated the release of results and photographs to media outside Auckland.

THE RESULTS

A survey conducted by the client company showed that awareness of the company in its target market had risen by 50%, while awareness of the company as the sponsor of the race stood at 15%. Given the long history of association of previous sponsors - this was regarded as most satisfactory. Staff in the Auckland region expressed their pleasure at being involved in a community event.

Most importantly, registrations increased by over 12,000 on the previous year and the nominated charity received a cheque for $180,000, being the proceeds from registrations - the highest amount ever in the Round The Bays 20 year history.