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Event sponsorship 'a total waste of money', says marketing guru


Traditional event sponsorship is 'a total waste of money', according to Peter Fisk, author of the best-selling book ‘Marketing Genius’.

Speaking at the European Meeting and Events Conference (EMEC) in Budapest this week, Fisk said sponsor benefits such as displaying a logo, presenting awards or having promotional booth space were not effective. He asked the audience in his session ‘Slingshots: The Ultimate Event for Sponsors’ to name as many of the 30 conference sponsors as they could – only three were identified.

“Scientific studies show that people can never remember more than three things, so have a smaller number of sponsors,” he said. “The current model is to have loads; platinum, gold, silver, bronze. What do we do for these sponsors? We give them booth space – does anyone go to them? They’re not very engaging and interactive. We put their logos everywhere but no one can remember them. You got given bags, but no one’s got them now. It’s a total waste of money.”

He added: “The challenge is to do something different. You need to think beyond the logo. Match better between sponsor and client, design an immersive experience. Think how can you do online stuff to support before and after the event. The sponsor should be part of the event, not the advert that spoils the beginning.”

Fisk gave the example of his work with Visa on their £250m sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“We got them to say what they’re trying to achieve through the sponsorship. They wanted to change the perception of brand, touch people more emotionally, integrate products and services, accelerate innovation, do more for cardholders and energise and inspire people.

“They took a three year perspective, including for the whole year afterwards. It’s a changing message strategy; they thought about the different audiences. Organisers should work together with sponsors to establish exactly what they want to achieve and how they can help them do that.”

Pictured: Marketing expert Peter Fisk

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