Don’t Waste A Crisis

If you are a brand-side marketer or marketing procurement professional, maybe your organization’s management of its sponsorship investments hasn’t pressure-tested very well during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Maybe the language in your sponsored property contracts hasn’t adequately protected you around cancelations, postponements, and lost value. Maybe you’re needing to negotiate make-goods, refunds, and credits on a door-by-door basis.

Maybe you lack a clear understanding of the value for the various sponsorship assets and entitlements in your deals, and not being able to quantify the value you’ve lost, has resulted in the need to take a simple, and potentially costly, straight line approach to value loss. 

For most brands, sponsorship (rights fees and activation spend) is the second largest marcom spend after media (averaging 14%, according to a 2017 Performance Research poll of sponsorship decision makers). 

For many, the spend category is largely uncontrolled and lacks process and rigor. These brands often own a sponsorship portfolio made up of a set of disjointed properties, many lacking target efficiency, many supporting past business and brand objectives and many with legacy deals that keep getting renewed almost out of habit. 

There is a better way to manage your sponsorship investments. More organized, more accountable, with better organizational alignment and with those investments better measured against your brand and commercial objectives.


The coronavirus pandemic, and the resulting economic impact, has been a tremendous accelerant in so many ways. Before the pandemic, for example, some organizations thought they had a choice about digital transformation and now realize they do not.

Organizations have realized that they can move more quickly, be more collaborative and be more focused than they ever thought possible.

This crisis has given people within those organizations license to do things differently, to look at obstacles to change differently, to be more agile and more creative. In fact, the crisis has created a new urgency for, and a keen interest in, change. 

Depending on the industry you compete in, you may be experiencing cuts to your marketing budgets over the short and midterm by +/- 30% (27% is the average, according to the World Federation of Advertisers). With likely stronger need over the near to mid-term to drive enterprise revenue and manage cashflow, the efficiency of your marketing pressure is more important than ever. 

Never let a good crisis go to waste.” – Winston Churchill

With soft marketing budgets, uncertain revenue forecasts and the need for both effectiveness and efficiency, the time for change in how you manage your sponsorship investments is now.

Here are three recommendations for how to get there, to be executed in sequence – first to third.


First, start with an assessment of where your portfolio sits today. 

Confirm if you have the right properties to address your current and midterm business and brand objectives. On a property-by-property basis, ensure you have an understanding of target audience efficiency, if you have the right assets and entitlements in each deal and if your investment with each sponsorship is delivering a ‘good’ value proposition (not all properties will, but the 3-5% of your spend that isn’t delivering a ‘good’ value proposition should be with those rare ‘gotta have it’ properties that may strategically be significant for you).

Track how you are activating each property and how you’re measuring success. 

A comprehensive portfolio audit will give you an action plan towards a more efficient and more effective sponsorship portfolio.



A strong approach to sponsorship governance, the process and controls you use to manage your sponsorship investments, will help ensure that effectiveness and efficiency is table stakes for your sponsorship portfolio going forward. 

Good governance will take you from being property-focused to being portfolio-focused. It will increase collaboration amongst stakeholders across your business and it will make for better partnerships with your sponsored properties. Governance ensures you start with strategy first and you leverage your assets with effective activation plans. 

Sponsorship governance provides visibility, it delivers accountability, it creates organizational alignment.



Being able to articulate the measurable business and brand impact from your marketing spend is going to become even more vital over the next 24 months. Expect increased scrutiny on the marketing function and expect a higher expectation from your organization on proving out your sponsorship investments.

Measuring your sponsorship investments enables you to validate those investments, and to calibrate your activation. 

When thinking about measurement, be sure to focus on outcomes, not just outputs. Outputs are a set of intermediary measures that include broadcast numbers, likes and shares, hospitality asset utilization, event audience size, among others. Outcomes are the attitudinal and behavioural changes your target audience make because of the association between your brand and a sponsored property—sales, intention, favourability, recommendation, consideration. 


Across industries, across organizations people are realizing there is wind at the back of change.

Initiatives that might have taken months before the pandemic, have taken weeks or maybe even days. Out of necessity, new thinking and new expectations have emerged. 

If you have been thinking for a long time that it would be ‘nice’ to evolve the way your organization manages its sponsorship spend, ‘nice’ has become ‘necessity’. Now is the time for change. 

We can help—for a no-obligation, no-cost, one-hour consultation for how you can get to better sponsorship, reach out at [email protected]

By: Ian Malcolm

Don’t Waste A Crisis