Quite often we hear “We don’t like to say we sponsor, we rather prefer saying we have a tight partnership with a win-win relationship.” But has anybody ever said that a sponsorship is not about a win-win partnership?
Why is a partnership with a win-win relationship not regarded as a sponsorship? Are we just trying to be inventive with words and showing that our sponsorships are completely different from traditional sponsorships where the impression was the most important sponsorship right (and today still the most valuable one for a sponsee)? Or are sponsorships really going to vanish from our business?!
If we want to understand what sponsorship is and what it is not, we should go back to the definition of the term.
IEG defined sponsorship in 1982 as A cash and/or in-kind fee paid to a property (typically sports, entertainment, non-profit event or organization) in return for access to the exploitable commercial potential associated with that property. (Visit their glossary for more definitions and explanations).
Other definitions all derive from IEG’s. A property of rights and a buyer of those rights are the main players in this relationship. Don’t we have the same relationships in Red Bull partnerships that are above traditional sponsorships?
Why don’t we just develop a type of sponsorships that will help understand a broader marketing and business audience the evolution of sponsorships? It looks like the main change in sponsorships happened with the prohibition of tobacco advertising (and sponsorships) and most probably it will happen with alcohol in the near future as well. Companies became very inventive when it comes to exploiting traditional sponsorship rights (such as LED screens, banners, on-site promotions etc.) and in the field of product innovation that is customized to sponsored properties. Even more so: many brands and their companies invented their own properties that would serve them exclusively (after some time they start to act like sponsees and sell sponsorship rights to other companies).
Today we have a plenty of different win-win partnerships. They are still called sponsorships and I will keep calling them sponsorships in the future. Partnerships with musicians, NGOs, artists, filmmakers, TV programmes, athletes etc., that don’t just result in buying advertising space are called sponsorships. Regardless of what they will officially be called: win-win partnership, love relationship, marriage, co-branding or special friendship. It doesn’t matter. What matters is your creativity and ingenuity of such partnership.