Brand Engagement, Sponsorship | Jun 16, 2014
Maximising the emotional aspects of commercial partnerships in sport

Proctor and Gamble (P&G) executive Austin Lally highlighted the need to maximise the emotional aspects of commercial partnerships in sport during a fascinating session to kick off the 2013 Leaders Sport Business Summit.

Lally, the President of Braun and formerly the Global Vice-President and Global Brand Franchise Leader for Gillette, is widely credited as being one of the most creative minds in the sports sponsorship industry.

To set the scene for his session, he outlined the notion that emotion is central to sport and, after showing footage of an old Gillette advert featuring Ralph Kiner, a baseball star of the 1940s and 1950s, he explained that the challenge was to attach an athlete’s performance attributes to a brand.

“We want to be part of the passion our consumers have, and sport is the ideal platform for that. We want to be noticed and be distinctive,” Lally said.

“We’ve seen sports marketing evolve markedly. When I talk to rights-owners they sometimes talk only about the media value of a property, but that can be a pretty shallow approach.

“It is not enough to know the brand and not enough to like the brand. You need to be able to engage with the brand.

“People don’t want just to consume products. They want to be part of communities that share the same passions.

“Sport is the most effective passion point in marketing as it makes the consumer lean forward and listen. If you can do that as a brand then you will have a tailwind of passion rather than a headwind of boredom and disinterest.”

Lally estimated that sport is a $130-150 billion industry, with sponsorship accounting for $40 billion of the total, but also said: “I don’t think the industry has fully started to monetise the value of consumer passion in emerging markets.”

He added: “At P&G we know that we’re up against world-class competitors, so we know we have to use our marketing programmes to stay number one.

“However, we don’t just benefit from our sponsorships. Often the rights-owners benefit from their association with P&G and the best relationships are when it’s a two-way process.

“With the geographic footprint we have, we can do as much to build the brand of a rights-holder as anyone.”

Switching focus to the actual partnerships, Lally highlighted P&G’s relationship with the International Olympic Committee.

The ‘Thank You Mum’ campaign for the London 2012 Games led to average sales increase of two per cent across all of the company’s products.

“We asked ourselves what role we could play as an Olympic partner,” Lally said. “We realised we were in the business of supporting mums and families.”

However, Lally said that P&G would “fine-tune” aspects of the Olympics partnership for the Sochi 2014 Winter Games.
“Some brands maybe started their campaigns too early,” Lally said.

Referring to Braun’s new ‘Hold on to Your Dreams’ campaign featuring Formula One star Sebastian Vettel, Lally explained that the German driver represents “emotion, drive and will to win” – the characteristics men aspire to match the world over.

“Men’s lives are often stories of unfulfilled dreams, but we are a champion of men and Braun is telling men to hold on to their dreams,” Lally said.

“We like to create movements through big ideas. Your big sports sponsorship idea needs to be intuitive and obvious and you need to imagine an infinite number of activations. If you can’t do that, or you find it difficult to explain, then it’s a small idea.”

In closing his session, Lally spoke about the potential of “the east and the south” of the globe, including China, Russia to Latin America.

“There will be less reliance on the US and Europe,” he said. “However, underpinning all of it is the expectation that the marketplace is going to become increasingly competitive.”

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