Selling Ice to Eskimos

If you are in sponsorship sales you want people to say ‘you can sell Ice to Eskimos’ – it is that personal achievement, the moment the salesperson becomes a Spartan.

Through time and experience you learn that selling ice to an Eskimo is relatively easy – they know it, they understand it, and even though they might have way too much of it, it is still easy to show they need it. The Spartan hits his stride, and sales keep flowing in.

Such is the state of traditional sponsorship.  Picture an Eskimo in front of his igloo with the most picturesque icy background you can imagine – blank canvas – get to work, what do you sell?

Leading up to this point the typical sponsorship sales person would categorise the premium located igloo building blocks as worth more than the lessor prestigious placed foundation blocks. The possibility of a flag with a logo, the kit he is wearing, some added hoarding, banner flags and a big screen streaming videos and twitter feeds – #nICE to feel like you are really getting integrated. Taking it further, let’s throw in backdrops and lanyards for the VIP’s; and of course, don’t forget the car they arrive in. Ticketing, collateral, post event photos and highlights reels can be used to extend the memory of this great moment and really maximise exposure.

Done, this is Sparta!

Unfortunately that is also the problem.  This is just selling ice to Eskimos.  It is what the sponsorship industry has done for so many years, it’s traditional and predictable.  Furthermore, Eskimos now have gadgets, gizmos and can travel – making ice potentially less valuable to them then what it once was.

As with Eskimos, brands are also failing to realise the value of a logo and badging.  This is compounded by rights-holders increasing the cost of their sponsorship rights to sustain their growth (rather than increasing the value), whilst brands are reducing their spend to sustain the same.

It is clear there is need for a shift in the sponsorship approach.

Unlike Zerksis, the brave 300 shouldn’t be your stumbling blocks, rather the number of ways you should look at your proposition to really unlock true potential.  Traditional sponsorship is a good start; however this should only be that, the start. To really maximise the potential of both rights-holders and brands, we all need to work harder at uncover rights beyond the straightforward ‘ice assets’ our industry keeps flogging.

The Changing Influence of Celebrities in Sponsorship

 ‘Celebrities’ – denounced by sceptics as irrelevant, yet worshiped by so many of the younger generation. How can a seemingly inconsequential topic become such a contentious talking point?

Celebrity Culture

Modern society’s imitation-based obsession with what celebrities are wearing, or where they are eating, has led to a booming ‘celebrity-centric’ industry. Whether we like it or not, the front pages of red-tops worldwide are covered with famous faces accompanied by relatively inane stories. It’s hardly a red-letter day when a humanitarian disaster is relegated from the front pages at the hands of Justin Bieber’s most recent run in with the law.

The Problem

The incredibly awkward Iceland adverts currently on-air featuring Peter Andre prove that celebrity ambassadors are often willing to do anything to keep their bank managers happy. Poorly integrated, short-term celebrity ambassadorships are perhaps indicative of the ’15 minutes of fame’ mentality now commonplace in the entertainment industry.

This being said, the power of celebrities should not be underestimated; they can dramatically affect the success or failure of online campaigns. You only have to look as far as the #icebucketchallenge for ALS, the #makeupfreeselfie in aid of Cancer Research UK, and #stephensstory for the Teenage Cancer Trust (recently surpassing the £5million mark at the Pride of Britain Awards) to see the benefits of having a celebrity voice on-board.

The Solution

We must innovate further than simply paying celebrities to tweet or Instagram about a product, service, or event. It must be more integrated, more believable. Whilst this is not a new idea, its implementation requires creativity and investment of time and money. Objectives must be aligned and mutual benefit must be expected, not desired. Tenuous or superficial links between brands and celebrities simply no longer cut the mustard.

When it works, it WORKS

Nike has time and again proved itself as a forward-thinking company signing deals with the likes of Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Roger Federer. These endorsement deals are original and innovative due to their collaborative nature. Whilst the real extent of the input Michael Jordan actually has in the design of Air Jordan trainers may be debatable, the bilateral achievement of objectives is unquestionable. They are all winners. The Nike brand is a global powerhouse, and the athletes become more than sportsmen – they become brands in their own right.

Similarly, the music industry is no slouch when it comes to innovative sponsorships that positively engage with consumers. Jay-Z’s partnership with Bing in 2010 could be seen as somewhat of a pioneer, but the music industry has not slowed since. Beats by Dr Dre, purchased by Apple for $3 billion on August 1st this year, has proved that artist collaboration coupled with clever marketing and branding can create a solid foundation for extremely fast and sustainable growth.

To Conclude

Celebrity culture has undeniably had an effect on the need to redefine traditional conceptualisations of sponsorship. There are no longer set rules in the sponsorship arena; innovation pays. With the pull that celebrities have on modern-day buying trends, they should not be seen merely as an arrow to a brand’s quiver, but rather as an incredible opportunity to connect with consumers. If both parties are on the same page regarding direction, the partnership immediately gains believability. Believability directly correlates with desirability which, in turn, boosts sales. Social media has brought consumers closer than ever to their idols – surely this is an opportunity that the sponsorship industry cannot afford to take for granted.

Slingshot Sponsorship Appointed as Exclusive Sponsorship Agency for Snowboxx Festival

The highlight of the winter festival calendar – Snowboxx Festival, has appointed Slingshot Sponsorship as their exclusive sponsorship agency. The festival is to be held in March 2015 at the beautiful resort of Alp D’Huez, France.

Since its inception in 2013, Snowboxx festival has hosted attendees from across the globe.  A week long snow escape, Snowboxx, is the perfect ski holiday – granting audiences the chance to cruise alpine pistes by day and dance to world renowned DJ’s by night.  The festival will take over the town of Alp D’Huez this year, creating festival hubs, open air stages, après terrace parties and late night club parties.

With world renowned DJ’s headlining last year, this year’s festival promises to be the best yet. Festival Director, Aiden Levin stated: “we are delighted to be working with Slingshot Sponsorship. Snowboxx was built on the premise to offer something fresh to the festival market and we feel that Slingshot is the agency to help us maximise on this opportunity.”

Snowboxx not only focusses on the snow and music – the festival offers outdoor pool parties, world record attempts, tropical tea parties, live art on the snow and karaoke on the chairlifts. With a new location as well as bigger events and artists lined up for 2015, Snowboxx is shaping up to be the festival of the season.

Jackie Fast, Managing Director, Slingshot Sponsorship stated: “we were really impressed by the rate Snowboxx has expanded in two years. The festival market is becoming ever more saturated, so it was really refreshing to come across a festival like Snowboxx, which offers a truly unique platform for its audience and brands.”

Snowboxx festival will be hosted in March 2015 at Alp D’Huez ski resort, France.

Slingshot Sponsorship Wins Best British Small Business in the O2 Smarta 100 and O2 Business present the UK’s 100 most dynamic and innovative small businesses and O2 Business proudly announce that Slingshot Sponsorship is a winner of the 2014 O2 Smarta 100, the ultimate index of the UK’s savviest, supremely disruptive, most resourceful and socially-beneficial small businesses.

The O2 Smarta 100 awards celebrates new UK tech powerhouses like Squawka, Rant & Rave and Pact Coffee, as much as those dedicated to changing thousands of lives for the better – Two Fingers Brewing Co, whose profits go in full to prostate cancer research.

In total, 2014’s Smarta 100 are generating revenues of over £70million a year and employing more than 640 people. More than a quarter are female-run businesses and half are self-funded, with just 5% borrowing from a bank. 35% have taken angel, private equity or VC funding. The oldest company founder is 56; the two youngest are just teenagers at 19.

Commenting on their inclusion in the Smarta 100, Slingshot Sponsorship’s Managing Director Jackie Fast said:

We are absolutely thrilled to be part of the Smarta 100 list this year.  It’s fantastic that our specialist work in helping organisations commercialise through sponsorship is being recognised by the larger business community.  Even just being judged by such an esteemed panel from businesses that we find truly inspiring including Naked Wines and Ella’s Kitchen is an honour in itself, and winning is just that much better!

Jackie Fast is also up for the Young Female Entrepreneur Award at the Smarta100 through a public vote.

Discover more business stories and to vote for Jackie Fast under the Young Female Entrepreneur Award category please visit:


Slingshot’s MD Jackie Fast named as one of UK’s Hottest Entrepreneurs Aged 35 or Under

Growing Business today names its 12th annual list of the entrepreneurs aged 35 or under behind 30 of the UK’s brightest companies.

Jackie Fast, MD of Slingshot Sponsorship, has been named one of the UK’s most outstanding entrepreneurs aged 35 or under, revealed today in Growing Business’ Young Guns ‘Class of 2014′.

Recognised at an awards luncheon held at the prestigious Kensington Roof Gardens, this year’s crop is made up of 54 entrepreneurs behind 30 of the country’s fastest-growing firms.  The Class of 2014 join an alumni already containing the founders of 330 businesses named since the Young Guns awards began in 2003.  Sponsored by law firm Keystone Law and chartered accountants haysmacintyre, Young Guns celebrates the most outstanding crop of young entrepreneurs the country has to offer with only 30 companies selected each year, and no repeat appearances.

Commenting on the win, Jackie Fast said: “It is an absolute honour to be recognised amongst this incredibly influential and successful group of people shaping the future of business in the UK.  As our agency is driven to enable and secure the future of other businesses commercially through securing partners, this award is particularly relevant to us.  We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Slingshot Sponsorship as well as the other Young Guns!”

Now in its 12th year, the awards has a track record of talent spotting, previously recognising the fledgling businesses started by the likes of Michael Action Smith OBE of Mind Candy, Holly Tucker MBE of, Neil Hutchinson of Forward Internet Group, Matthew Riley of Daisy Group Plc, and the co-founders of Innocent Drinks, Huddle, YPlan, Nails Inc., Chilango, and


View the full list of 2014 Young Guns and their profiles here:

In numbers: Who are the Young Guns Class of 2014?

  • There are 54 qualifying co-founders
  • The 30 businesses are 4 years old on average
  • The mean age between the qualifying founders is 29, with the youngest just 18
  • On average their companies employ 36 people, with the highest employing 200
  • Between the 20 companies that are equity backed, the total they’ve raised stands at over £114m
  • That means those 20 companies have raised £5.7m on average – the highest being House Trip, which has raised $60m and Nutmeg with $50m.
  • It also means 10 companies in this Class have grown organically
  • Their average turnover (for the 26 who told us) is £4.1m and they’re forecasting to grow that to £7.2m this year
  • Of the 26 who told us, they still own 61% of their equity


The Knowledge Arena – Challenging The Traditional Festival Model

The end of summer always signifies the end of another chapter for the Outlook and Dimensions Festivals team at Slingshot. But summer blues aside, this year’s editions of Outlook and Dimensions Festivals brought with it the launch of the Knowledge Arena.

Curated alongside CDR Projects, an evolving multi-platform music project – Outlook & Dimensions developed an immersive new learning experience space that focused upon music creation, performance and collaboration. For the 14 days spanning first Dimensions and then Outlook Festival, festival-goers and artists were granted the chance to be inspired by their surroundings and have the opportunity to creatively channel their experiences in the sun at the Knowledge Arena.

The Inspiration

Technological advancement in the music industry has meant that the process of music creation and performance have continued to blur. Spawned from the minds of festival Director Johnny Scratchley and CDR’s Tony Nwachukwu, the Knowledge Arena was created to take a deeper look into these processes and to understand what factors influence the work that is produced and then performed and enjoyed at Outlook Festival and Dimensions Festival.

The Enablers

Alongside Ableton, Akai and M-Audio, the Knowledge Arena created a fully immersive experience for individuals. The tailored programme featured a mix of music creation workshops, artist masterclasses and conversations and ‘Open Play’ slots which allowed individuals the chance to develop their own ideas supported by a team of specialist producers and DJs.

Such an exploration was delivered alongside Ableton, M-Audio and Akai. A studio was built on the festival site and was fitted with a wealth of equipment for everyone to get their hands on from – Ableton Live, Akai APC40, Ableton Push and M-Audio Trigger Finger Pro.

The Results

Not only was the Knowledge Area a space for festival-goers to engage with workshops from our Knowledge Arena professionals, it also hosted a programme of talks and demonstrations from some of the top artists on the bill for both Outlook & Dimensions. The Knowledge Arena saw the likes of Omar, Seven Davis Jr, Alexander Nut, Roman Flugel and more discuss their creative processes.

The Knowledge Arena brought another element to the festival experience at Outlook and Dimensions Festivals this year. Not only did it allow festival-goers the opportunity to try their hand at the latest kit out there, it gave them the chance to delve further into the creative processes of the artists they admire. Each of the artists engaged with their workshops and talks with a level of honesty that you would not be able to find elsewhere.

Coming from a single conversation between Johnny and Tony, the Knowledge Arena is just the first step towards the evolution of the festival experience at Outlook and Dimensions. Keep your eyes peeled for exclusive footage that will be released over the coming weeks.

Sales – It’s What Business Is All About

Having previously worked in the recruitment industry, sales featured heavily in both developing new business opportunities and progressing existing client relations. Whilst the recruitment industry may come with its criticism (quick sales and shotgun approaches), there are many agencies out there that focus their efforts upon value-add and developing long term relationships with clients and candidates alike.

Having worked in both sponsorship sales and recruitment it is apparent that there are a number of similarities between these industries:

Show me the money!

Clients are the life blood of a business and as such it is important to nurture and develop these relationships. The longer a client is retained, the greater you should understand the business; its history, the needs and challenges it faces – which in turn will enable you to offer a more consultative service.

The key thing for agencies is the need to understand client’s objectives and work alongside one another to deliver these objectives, not just attempt to cash in on ‘cheap wins.’ As Jerry said “Suddenly, it was all pretty clear. The answer was fewer clients. Less money. More attention.

A whole new dial tone

The reception of a call highlights the difference between sponsorship sales and recruitment sales instantly. Rarely does a gatekeeper prevent speaking to the desired recipient, and moreover they are generally interested to speak with you about the opportunity associated.

Whilst not every call is offering the opportunity of a World Cup or Olympics, the interest is there as it’s about finding the right platform for the brand as much as the size of the event. And even though marketing managers and directors are bombarded with proposals there is still an interest in what’s available, after all companies don’t generally associate their brand with the mundane! Sponsorship is exciting and more importantly visible, everyone has seen great sponsorship examples. It transcends industries and offers brands the chance to be involved in something great outside their normal remit. Who wouldn’t want to hear about that!

Return on what?

ROI, an acronym that I had little exposure to prior to sponsorship but at Slingshot this is a key KPI within all clients accounts.

Within recruitment the best look to deliver value throughout the relationship with a client, not merely showing interest when a role is available but managing the process leading to the vacancy becoming ‘live’, throughout the hiring and long after the placement.

This theme runs throughout Slingshot’s approach, working in partnership to exploit the opportunities that traditional sponsorship does not. Stepping away from the traditional approach to move beyond badging where account management is key.  This allows increased retained clients and  to develop sustainable sponsorship, creating the maximum return on investment for the each and every client.

It’s partnership not salesmanship

Whilst it is true that business is centered on sales the way in which this operates differs massively from one industry to another. Transactional sales do not look to maximise the relationship for either party. Sales need to be undertaken with a view to the long term and developing the relationship allowing the maximum return for all involved.

Relationships, it’s what business is all about.

National Business Awards Q&A with Jackie Fast, Slingshot Sponsorship

If you haven’t heard yet, we’ve been nominated for The BlackBerry Business Enabler of the Year Award at the prestigious National Business Awards (full press release).  As part of our nomination, we’ve also been featured in Outsource Magazine with a bit of a Q&A.  The Q&A outlines exactly how Slingshot Sponsorship is truly helping organisations increase their profitability, why innovation is key for us and our industry, whether we think the definition of partnership in a business sense is evolving, and what we think is the perfect client.

You can read some of our answers below, but the full article can be found here.


Excerpt from Outsource Magazine:

O: When a buy-side organisation engages with a supplier, how far do you think it transfers responsibility for innovation?

JF: This is a topic much debated at the moment as historically the brand was always responsible for the activation. However, it is in both parties’ interests to actively engage and ensure that the programme, event, or campaign is successful for the audience. Therefore, I would strongly argue that the onus is placed on the rights holder side to ensure that activation falls in line with the overall business strategy to help align objectives.

O: Do you think the very definition of partnership, in a business sense, is evolving and if so how?

JF: The output of partnership is still the same; however, the input of partnerships is radically changing, which is why there are discrepancies around definitions of what sponsorship or partnership is. Sponsorship makes marketing work harder and always has; however, who is involved in that partnership is different now through the advance of digital technology. This will inevitably change our industry.

O: What’s your definition of the perfect client?

JF: A client who understands their business and their reason for bringing on partnerships beyond the financial. A client who isn’t about just selling the logo.

Partnerships can deliver far beyond the investment of rights. When clients understand this implication and its potential, we then have the ability to create sponsorships that deliver value well beyond expectations.

Thatcham to Sponsor new ‘Safety’ Category at 2015 What Car? Awards

Thatcham Research, the UK insurers’ automotive research centre, has announced its involvement in the What Car? Car of the Year Awards 2015, as a sponsor of the newly introduced ‘Safety’ category.

The What Car? Car of the Year Awards are the most coveted accolades in the automotive industry. The Awards recognise cars that meet the highest standards in their sector after being put through the toughest tests by the most experienced team in the business.

As the UK’s only Euro NCAP accredited crash test centre and pioneers of the Euro NCAP and insurance industry’s testing criteria for Autonomous Emergency Braking technology, Thatcham has established an unrivalled reputation in the field of vehicle safety. The centre is therefore a natural choice to put its first-hand experience and research knowledge into recognising and rewarding the efforts made by vehicle manufacturers in this important area.

“With the introduction of numerous driver assistance and semi-autonomous vehicle safety technologies, manufacturers have really pushed the boundaries of possibility in recent years and there’s certainly more to come.” said Thatcham’s Chief Executive Peter Shaw. “It’s hugely exciting to be involved in this new award category and one which we truly believe can have a major influence on consumers’ future purchasing decisions.”

What Car? publishing director Chris Lowe said: “We are delighted to have Thatcham involved with the Safety Category at this year’s What Car? Awards.  This is a brand new category for What Car? and has been made possible through the support of Thatcham and their expertise in safety, security and crash repair.  We look forward to working with them and delivering the best What Car? Awards yet.”

The What Car? Car of the Year Awards event is attended by more than 1,400 leading industry figureheads alongside the most influential motoring correspondents from the wider media.

The event is to be held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on January 7, 2015. 

This deal was brokered by Slingshot Sponsorship

London Twenty What? Brands opt for sponsorship flings as opposed to the ball and chain

Whatever happened to legacy? During the 2012 London Olympics we could scarcely move for the word, and in regards to sponsorship there is very little evidence of it. Since 2012 there have been four major global sporting events and yet still very few campaigns follow on after the life of an event. And why not?

As Lucien Boyer explains, the buzz of an event doesn’t last forever and as such brands should look to the long term if they want their partnership to provide an effective return, rather than being accused of ‘cashing in’. Sponsorship should be seen as a marriage combining the event and brand strategy in a long-term partnership, this sets a clear direction for a company’s future marketing, allowing the brand to develop a strong message and engage with the target audience consistently over time.

The London Olympics and subsequent 5 years offered a plethora of global athletic events all located within the UK; first London 2012, now the Glasgow 2014 Games, and soon to follow the London 2017 World Athletic Championships (not to mention Team GB competing at Rio 2016). If a brand had wanted to align themselves with the values of athletics and use global sport as a means to engage the audience (UK or abroad) there might rarely have been a better opportunity.

Sainsbury’s serves as a prime example in delivering sponsorship this way. Having sponsored the 2012 Paralympic games to great effect (as the only ‘big four’ supermarket to make gains in market share during this period posting a 5.6% increase YOY), Sainsbury’s didn’t stop there. They finalised an agreement to partner with the British Paralympic Association for the next four years and also to sponsor the British Athletics Major Event series, including the Anniversary Games and British Grand Prix in August. In addition to this they launched a one million pound scheme to provide coaching and facilities to help disabled children lead more active lives providing an ROI that “will not just be measured in pure marketing terms.

So having returned this week from a jaunt north of the boarder to indulge in the Commonwealth Games, I couldn’t help but hear that word again on everyone’s lips. One of Glasgow’s major sponsors SSE is looking to change this. As an Official Partner to the games, SSE used the GoGlasgow leaderboard to engage on Twitter and experientially at the Green Zone. Furthermore, they had a number of brand ambassadors from the home counties, provided long term naming rights for the SSE Hydro (hosting the netball and gymnastics), and are looking to continue the long term effects by increasing the funding for the SSE Next Generation programme giving support to aspiring athletes in the UK.

Only time will tell with how much vigour brands will continue to engage now the curtain has closed on Glasgow. Who knows, come Rio 2016 perhaps the word ‘legado’ will never even be uttered.


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