TORQUE Insights: Canadian Sponsorship Forum 2014

Bart_Given_Web101  Bart Given, Managing Partner & Chief Innovator

Last week, we sent our own Bart Given to Ottawa to take in the Canadian Sponsorship Forum. The conference featured speakers from top brands, properties and agencies across Canada, as well as a trip to the Ottawa Bluesfest and a ball hockey game (more on that later).

Upon his return, Bart shared insights from his trip with our team and now we want to share them with you.

What session left the biggest impression on you and why?

Tie. Chris Overholt, Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) & Dana White, UFC.

Two very different styles and messages, but both had a profound impact on the audience.

I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Chris and his team as an AOR, and never tire of seeing him present. Incredibly humble and deferential to those who helped the COC reach their current ascension – there is no question he’s an inspiring leader that brings out the best.

His description of the COC journey post-Vancouver 2010 through the award-winning #WeAreWinter campaign was stirring. Most importantly, he recognized the audience and was able to provide insight into the sponsorship/partnership motivations for brands in Canada. It’s remarkable how many speakers do not relate back to the listener’s passion – Chris is not one. I’m sure many in the room were sending their resumes to the COC following his presentation.

Admittedly I’m not a UFC fan, but I’ve always respected their unbelievable rise in the sport landscape. Dana White was incredibly engaging, humorous and had a very logical approach. As a combat sport, sponsorship was slow to build for his brand but there is now a significant amount of interest from corporations looking to connect with the UFC’s very passionate demographic. The passion for UFC was on display in the room as dozens of conference attendees lined up for photos with him. While I wasn’t one, I  left with an increased appreciation for Dana White and what he has accomplished for the sport.

How did technology and digital products play into this year’s content?

Most impressed with iON Camera and Giovanni Tomaselli’s presentation. I had the benefit of spending a significant amount of time with Giovanni throughout the week, and I think the audience got a great look at the impact iON can have on the sponsorship landscape. With partnerships in place with Manchester City, Major League Baseball, Tough Mudder UK and Snow Sports Canada – Giovanni is aggressively going after market leader GoPro. At TORQUE, we talk to our clients a lot about engaging your audience authentically in a manner that enables the consumer to co-author your brand –“Storybuilding” for short. iON is the perfect product for this type of engagement.

“Consumers do not want more devices – they want solutions”. I think that sums it up.

What was your favorite moment from RBC Bluesfest and what brands integrated most authentically into the festival?

Well, I’m probably one of the few attendees from CSF who was more excited about the surprise of seeing Cypress Hill than the expectation of seeing the Killers. I think that’s one of the beautiful things about music festivals now – there really is something for everyone. In particular for the Bluesfest, it’s the collision of cultures that makes it fascinating as an attendee and as a sponsor.

Beer companies are the easiest fits in regard to authenticity. Molson was absolutely present. We didn’t spend a ton of time wandering due to timing but I noticed the Canadian Ski Patrol wandering around as medics – and I thought that was interesting twist.

What trends in measurement and valuation came forth through this year’s content?

This isn’t a new trend, but I feel like there was further emphasis on the need to develop your own objectives for sponsorship investment, inclusive of business drivers, and then spend the time to develop metrics specific to your objectives. There are few instances of cookie-cutter measurement – it needs to be tailored to your objectives and informed by strategy.

I especially enjoyed Don Mayo of IMI’s presentation as he hammered home that judging the success or failure of sponsorship by measuring “impressions” is foolish. He also nailed a few brands on their activations…but that’s his story to tell!

How did the ball hockey tournament go? Did you score a goal?

Alas I was on the runner-up squad again and have been consistently reminded by Alyson Schmidt from TwentyTen Group, Pete Quevillon from KidSport and Tracy Van Kalsbeek from Manulife. Uncle. None of you are going pro!