How COVID has changed… sponsorship

How COVID has changed...

May 3rd, 2021 By Jack Morton

With live events finally set to return in more parts of the world, we thought it would be interesting to see how the different areas of our work have been impacted in the last year.

In this “How Covid Has Changed” content series, we asked some of our top experts about their respective areas of focus and how brands will need to adapt moving forward. Here is what they had to say….

Question: When it comes to sponsorships, what do you think is the single biggest consideration for brands post-pandemic?

how covid has changed sponsorship Recognition. Recognition that sponsorships are about being part of something bigger. Recognition that people want to be part of something bigger than themselves. It’s what motivates people to become fans, it’s at the core of why brands benefit from involvement, and it’s why now, more than ever, activation is critically important.

Covid-19 tracking studies consistently show that especially after the isolation of social distancing the desire for camaraderie and the excitement to be part of a sporting event, concert, community event and eventually any high-capacity crowd, is stronger than ever.

The instant bond between fans of the same team, the connection felt between the artist on stage and the crowd at the concert, the shared purpose from participating in a charity run. That feeling was missed during lock down and it will fuel how we reengage.

Being part of something bigger is also the promise that attracts brands to sponsorship – as properties are basically mass consumer passion points. It is important for brands to reassess how the properties they sponsor will recover post-pandemic. Will the makeup of the fan base change? Indications are that younger fans will reengage in live experiences quickly but older fans may be hesitant, which has implications for everything from ticket prices and the use of secondary ticketing apps to the experience before, during and after. Will the touchpoints for how fans engage change? During the pandemic fans engaged with their passions more through social content and less by watching every minute of a game or match. Brands may want to look at their sponsorship assets to make sure they’re aligned with post-pandemic fan behaviors.

Major sponsorship properties are part of something bigger too. They’re a visible and an influential part of culture. The social forces of the moment such as BLM, equal pay, voting rights and more – all affect properties precisely because they are mass passion points. The need for brands to react and adapt will not end with the pandemic disruption but carry forward.

How brands activate and manage their sponsorships will be critically important to not only maximizing value but also reflecting the brand’s values. There can be upside in using sponsorship to spotlight a brand’s beliefs in ways that differentiate it from competitors.

Proactive and ongoing activation planning has never been more important and exciting. As long as brands recognize the importance of being a part of something bigger, then the fans will follow. Not just with their appreciation but also with their recognition and ultimately their wallets.

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