London 2012 Olympic Taekwondo champion named as Baku 2015 European Games ambassador

Slingshot Sponsorship’s client GB Taekwondo has just announced that Olympic Gold Medalist Jade Jones will be an international Athlete Ambassador for this summer’s inaugural Baku 2015 European Games.

Ms Jones became Great Britain’s first-ever Taekwondo gold medalist at London 2012, with victory in the 57kg weight division.

She also won silver at the 2011 World Taekwondo Championships in Gyeongju, South Korea, and picked up another silver medal at the 2014 European Taekwondo Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, last May.

Mr Simon Clegg, Chief Operating Officer of Baku 2015, said: “To be able to name a reigning Olympic champion as a Baku 2015 ambassador is a fantastic achievement for the first European Games and a testament to the calibre of athletes that the event will attract.

“I am sure Jade will very much enjoy promoting the Games in Great Britain through her role as an international Athlete Ambassador, and we hope to see her give a memorable performance in Baku this summer.”

Baku 2015 international Athlete Ambassadors will represent their sports and feature in extensive marketing campaigns around the continent and on social media to promote the first European Games.

Ms Jones, 21, said: “I am very proud to have been named as a Baku 2015 Athlete Ambassador, and it will be an honour to help promote the Games. It is important for European athletes to have our own multi-sport event, and my aim is to become the first European Games Taekwondo champion.”

Mr Mark England, the British Olympic Association’s Chef de Mission for Baku 2015, said: “Jade’s participation as a Baku 2015 international Athlete Ambassador reflects British athletes’ enthusiasm for the European Games. Britain has a strong sporting tradition, and the Athlete Ambassador programme will help to generate interest and excitement in the country ahead of Baku 2015.”

Ms Jones joins French rhythmic gymnast Kseniya Moustafaeva, Denmark’s canoe sprinter René Holten Poulsen and Serbia’s Basketball 3×3 team of Dušan Domović Bulut, Marko Savic, Marko Zdero and Dejan Majstorovic as Baku 2015 international Athlete Ambassadors, with more to be announced in the near future.

How Small Businesses Can Maximise Sponsorship Potential in 2015

*This article was originally published on Smarta

Sponsorship isn’t just for Premier League football clubs – and despite what the front covers of newspapers might tell you, it can actually be more impactful for small businesses if you do it well. Jackie Fast, founder of Slingshot Sponsorship, has worked with big brands across the globe and the entrepreneur gives her 5 tips for securing sponsorship this year.

The benefit of being a small business in 2015 is that you have many more sponsorship assets that you can work with than ever previously, allowing you to create more sponsorship packages, additional value, and ultimately driving more revenue to your bottom line.

Here are my top 5 tips for securing sponsorship successful in 2015:

1. Don’t Just Think Money

There is a big misconception that sponsorship is a cash transaction. However, a lot of sponsorship is done through contra agreements or value-in-kind. You can significantly decrease expenses by partnering with experts in the form of Venue Sponsors, Photography Sponsors, Branding Sponsors, PR Agency Sponsors, etc.  Have a look at what is costing you the most and if your audience is of value, then there is an opportunity to work more collaboratively with your suppliers.

2. Think Outside of the Box for Contra Deals

Sponsorship can also expand activity you are doing, which may lead to an increase in sponsorship. For example, many smaller businesses do not have the expertise, resource, or money to be as digitally savvy as they wish they were. However, by partnering with other digital firms or technology products, you may be able to incorporate more digital based services or products which may help increase your core revenue stream.

3. Consider Being A Sponsor

Most small businesses rarely consider sponsorship as part of their marketing mix as they feel that sponsorship is only for big business. However, securing sponsorship rights can also be done on a contra deal and can greatly increase your marketing activity with minimal cost.

4. Don’t Forget Your Audience

Sponsorship isn’t just about money, sponsorship is about creating a partnership which provides mutual benefits for both parties. You need to understand your audience as well as the audience you are going after before you start considering how to create a partnership.  The better understanding of audiences and how those businesses can work together, the stronger and more sustainable your sponsorship will be.

5. Get Help

Sponsorship isn’t rocket science, but it also requires more than just going out and doing it. You don’t want to burn bridges and equally you don’t want to waste time, so some advice can help you get there much quicker than going it alone.  Read blogs and articles, attend sponsorship conferences and events, or get training (check out Slingshot’s Bootcamp or Sponsorship Sessions!).

You can network with Jackie by following her on Twitter

How Fashion Can Truly Embrace the Digital Age through Sponsorship

Developments in technology have provided the fashion world with an opportunity to increase sales with the capability to now target consumers in the palms of their hands.  Collaborations between businesses as diverse as Burberry and Twitter demonstrate the extent to which fashion labels are utilising technology to drive sales and communicate brand values, which promises to increase creativity and innovation within this industry farther than ever been made possible previously.

Our top 3 fashion-tech fusions:

1.  Google+ x Topshop

Topshop’s Unique AW13 show was one of the most innovative fashion shows to date. The collaboration with Google+ made the show an experience shared and enjoyed by a much wider audience, virtually placing them on the front row – proving that as long as you’ve got the internet you can access all areas without having to leave the house. The show was characterised through the way in which it was marketed, involving a wide audience through digitalising every aspect of a traditional fashion show. Consumers were able to buy any item from a model’s outfit right down to the nail polish. As well as being able to start online discussions with buyers, designers and editors using the Google Hangouts helping to drive revenue of products, the collaboration drove a significant amount of consumer engagement for both partners involved following the show.

2.  Vodafone x Richard Nicoll

For the Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter ’12 fashion weeks, Richard Nicoll was sponsored by Vodafone to bring functionality to fashion and allow Vodafone to support British design, whilst targeting an industry with high digital activity. The collaboration produced a truly pioneering fashion product – a luxurious designer handbag that charges your phone – perfect for people on the go! This was a product the fashion industry had not seen previously and having only launched in 2012, it was ahead of its time.  Nicoll and Vodafone created something which had a sense of necessity, making consumers question design as well as design collaboration with technology – inspiring other designers to follow suit.

3.  Twitter x Burberry 

Twitter began its venture into e-commerce with the addition of a ‘buy button’, a simple, accessible feature that could increase sales by enabling users to immediately buy an item directly from a firm’s tweet. This tool both diversifies and increases Twitter’s revenue streams by becoming a platform and conduit for online shopping.  Burberry recognised Twitter’s potential and became the first to utilise this feature at its Autumn/Winter ’13 show, allowing consumers to simply touch the icon and have the desired product delivered straight to the billing address set up on their Twitter account. The collaboration of Burberry and Twitter was an experiment for both businesses and sets an example for other brands to consider how to maximise the potential of online networks to drive sales.

Slingshot Sponsorship Launch Full Day Training Events in London

Slingshot Sponsorship is delighted to announce that they have expanded their popular Slingshot Sponsorship Bootcamp training to also now provide full day, in-depth Sponsorship Sessions held each month in London.  The sole aim of the Sponsorship Sessions will be to provide teams the necessary tools to increase their commercial capacity within sponsorship for their event, charity, start-up, association, sports team, or online network.

Most organisations fail to reach their full sponsorship potential due to common pitfalls.  By working in a small team, industry expert Jackie Fast (MD of Slingshot Sponsorship) will create a tailored training programme for each attendee in order to help pinpoint challenges and create strategies and tools to overcome them.

Jackie Fast commented: “Unfortunately, typical sponsorship training and education often fails to address the different challenges organisations face when tackling sponsorship.  To be successful, one needs to really question these variables in order to recommend the right sponsorship strategy.  The Sponsorship Sessions allow us to do this by working in very small groups with a format that encompasses absolutely everything teams need to learn to truly develop commercially.  The success we have had with our training programme has even shocked me – having helped raise £1.27m additional sponsorship revenue for our attendees in the last three years alone.  Having kept our Bootcamp under wraps previously, I am absolutely thrilled to be bringing this training scheme out to the masses!”

The Sponsorship Sessions combine the need for high level training at the cost of attending a sponsorship conference (£219/ticket) – ensuring that attendees walk away with a clear direction on how to build the right sponsorship programme for their own organisation.

Previous Slingshot Sponsorship Bootcamp attendee Charlene Asamoah, Corporate Fundraising Manager from Parkinson’s UK commented: “It was absolutely amazing bringing Slingshot Sponsorship to Parkinson’s UK and I truly believe it was one of the best things I have done whilst working here.  Our entire team have changed dramatically and it’s all for the better!”

The next Slingshot Sponsorship Session will take place on Thursday 22nd January.  More information on the agenda and booking can be found here.  Or please contact Slingshot directly at

To read some testimonials from previous Slingshot Sponsorship Bootcamp attendees click here.


Future Predictions for the Sponsorship Industry 2015

Following a fantastic 2014, the entire Slingshot team is gearing up to embrace 2015.  With a number of new exciting clients to kick the year off including Wales Rally GB, Ideas Britain, and the Chartered Institute of Marketing - we can’t wait to get started!

Another great thing about 2015 is that we are expecting a significant amount of change – both for our own agency as well as the industry as a whole.  This has been brought about by a shift that has been discussed at length for years, but is actually starting to take place.

  1. More Confusion on What Sponsorship Is:  The age old argument of ‘sponsorship’ vs ‘partnership’ has evolved.  It is no longer an argument about semantics, but rather an argument about what sponsorship actually is.  One of my favourite things to ask people who work in sponsorship (especially at sponsorship conferences) is what their definition of sponsorship is.  It is astounding how so many people have such different definitions when pressed for specifics.  Most people can spout the typical ‘partnership’ speak, but when queried on specific campaigns (typically digital based) they trip up on whether they believe that is sponsorship or some other type of marketing/advertising.  As the lines get more blurred, the value of understanding becomes greater.  Which leads me on to my second prediction…
  2. Sponsorship Education and Sponsorship Training Will Be Desperately Sought After: Whether in the form of great content online or in books, taught at conferences or through webinars, or consultancy in the form of course training or at Slingshot Sponsorship’s one day Bootcamp, people are trying to get to grips with what to do, and how to do it better.  Through our own sponsorship training sessions alone, we have seen interest in sponsorship training double within the last 3 months.  While this is due to increased confusion on what sponsorship is, it’s also driven due to the fact that it is becoming harder to understand how to make money from it.
  3. New Sponsorship Agencies Will Crop Up: Sponsorship is becoming more diverse and it takes specialists who truly understand how to harness this commercial value to maximise it.  No longer is sponsorship confined to agencies helping out with Olympic sponsorship applications or designing sponsorship proposals, industry professionals are becoming driving forces within the overall business.  And because of this, more diverse and specialist sponsorship agencies and professionals are required to fill this need.
  4. The Value of Sponsorship Services Will Increase: Although there is increased confusion about what sponsorship actually is, the value of doing it well is becoming much clearer with better measurement tools, better purchasing behaviour, smarter activation, and clear demonstration of ROI.  When done well, sponsorship can be transformational – and when you can do this, your value is apparent and worth much more.
  5. Digital Agencies Will Sneak Up Around Sponsorship: The industry has still yet to get to grips with digital and its implications on how brands influence consumer purchase behaviour.  Although there are a few brands who are doing this well, on the whole it is being ignored or undervalued within the sponsorship mix.  Digital agencies are hungry to get more involved within their brands business and regardless of skill set, are actively pitching for sponsorship business by showcasing smart digital activations.  This poses a real threat to our industry.

Whatever the future holds for you this year, the entire Slingshot Sponsorship Team wish you a successful one!

In the world of sponsorship, bigger isn’t always better

Throughout the year there have once again been rumblings that the NBA (United States National Basketball Association) are set to announce the opportunity for sponsors to appear on team jerseys for the first time. The cost of this 2½ inch by 2½ inch spot – an estimated $100 million. Whilst this might appear to be an excellent opportunity for sponsors there is the potential for oversight. Brands often strive for the largest assets with a ‘bigger the better’ focus without fully equating how this will impact the brand or the potential response from the public, instead of looking to maximise their current rights.

Rarely do sponsors fully utilise the assets available to them. There are a wealth of activations available to engage with their audience yet for many these remain unused, mostly due to a lack of creativity.

The All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team was at the centre of a similar occurrence in recent years. As the most successful national rugby team on the planet with perhaps the most iconic jersey, which has always been sponsor clean (barring the small placement of Stienlager during part of the 90’s); a fact that filled fans with immense pride.

However this all changed in 2012 when AIG confirmed its place as Major Global Sponsor of the All Blacks. Included within this multi-million pound deal was the prime of place upon the legendary All Blacks shirt for the first time ever. On the one hand a ground breaking coup for AIG, yet the public outcry was huge with many New Zealanders speaking of boycotting AIG’s services, creating substantial adverse PR for the brand globally. This was not seen as a sponsor utilising an asset but instead a brand defacing that famous jersey.

Despite the fact that AIG used a logo 2/3 smaller than the norm this was not enough to dissipate the fallout. If the badging was crucial to AIG’s sponsorship (almost all other All Black’s sponsors have managed without this) they may have done more to quell the public’s uproar. They had the opportunity to engage with fans and to ask them how best the logo might be displayed on the jersey – allowing the fans to feel as though they were consulted on the matter, sparing some of the fallout.

One of the most severe effects from this may well have been the effect on AIG’s revenue. Not considering the additional sponsor fee for the badging opportunity, the impact from the boycotting of services and negative PR will have taken an impact on the businesses bottom line – one of the very things the sponsorship aimed to increase.

Ironically, the All Blacks was also one of the best utilisation of assets provided – by cereal brand Weet-Bix. As a long standing sponsor of the New Zealand rugby team (12 years), Weet-Bix took the opportunity to be creative with the assets they held rights to instead of opening the cheque book to acquire more branding.  Parents were encouraged to visit the Weet-Bix website and enter their child’s birth date.  Birthday cards were sent to the children with personalised messages ‘signed’ by the New Zealand players.

Weet-bix provides a prime example for how a sponsor can maximise the rights available to them. Electing to take a creative approach instead of opting for a badging the brand engaged emotionally with over two million people in New Zealand building the brand message, providing emotive moments for children and parents alike.

Whilst the drivers behind each brands’ sponsorship of the All Blacks may have been different, Weet-Bix shows how creatively utilising sponsorship rights can maximum emotional benefit instead of seeking bigger brand visibility and badging.

For all brands that are considering that $100 million NBA outlay, more consideration needs to be made on maximising current rights available, better engagement with a fanatical audience, and how to truly align with the sport to drive emotional buy-in.

Identifying Potential in the Barclays Premier League’s Transfer Window

It’s not even December and the rumour mill is in full flow regarding the opening of the Barclays Premier League’s January transfer window. Already dominating football-related conversations in pubs and bars across the UK, can we take a leaf out of our American counterparts’ book and capitalise on this excitement?  

Football is right at the epicentre of British culture. With revenue reaching €3 billion last year in the UK alone, it comes as no surprise that brands have attached themselves to every perceived point of value, from stadium naming rights to TV ad spots.

The Potential

With speculation rising as to how teams are aiming to strengthen through the mid-season transfer window, it seems an apt time to discuss the potential of the transfer market as a whole. As of the launch of Sky Sports News HQ in August this year, ‘Deadline Day’ is gaining traction and fast becoming a staple in the diets of football fans across the UK. As we saw last autumn, the transfer window offers a unique opportunity for brands to both reach and engage with their core audience in the off-season.

Furthermore, transfer deadline day is impossible to miss on social media. This year, Radamel Falcao’s switch from Monaco to Manchester United sparked a surge on Twitter with his name being mentioned over 1.6 million times before the window had even closed. Above all else, this clearly demonstrates the active participation of viewers.

The market is growing too, in just the last decade, due to the influx of wealthy overseas owners, English clubs have increased their spending in the transfer market from a combined £265million to £835million.

One of the challenges that we face is that in its current form, transfer deadline day is actually pretty dull; moments of excitement are surrounded with hours of ‘dead time’ and speculation. Whilst advertisers are aware of the increased interest on news outlets on deadline day, as yet none have been bold enough to do more than pay a premium for advertising space.

It’s Not Impossible

The NFL – America’s most watched sport on TV, and one that is making real progress in terms of successfully opening a London-based franchise, has proved that the transfer market is an area that holds great potential for the sponsorship industry. Their incredibly strong commercial strategy has contributed to their increasing success in the UK, having sold out Wembley for the Dallas Cowboys vs Jacksonville Jaguars game earlier this month.

Bud Light signed on as the official beer of the NFL in 2011 and has since adopted the NFL draft (a once-a-year event in which NFL teams select eligible college football players to add to their rosters) as a core aspect of their strategy. According to Mike Sundet, senior director at Bud Light, “the NFL Draft has become an unofficial holiday for fans – something they begin looking forward to almost as soon as the previous season ends.”

This year Bud Light is offering 32 fans, one representing each NFL team, an opportunity to be directly involved in the second-round draft, aired live on primetime US TV. Bud Light not only provides a channel for fans to directly connect and interact with their favourite teams, but also engages with fans increasing both brand advocacy and awareness.

The Opportunity

If a brand were to take total ownership of transfer deadline day with a clear strategy on how best to exploit the vast interest from the fan-base, there are huge potential gains for both the brand and the English Football Leagues.

If cooperation from the Premier League Football Association and Sky Sports could be secured, the space would be a blank canvas for a brand to create something both memorable and incredibly effective. The only part of the equation missing is the brand that’s willing to think outside of the perceived limits of the existing area.

Slingshot’s MD Jackie Fast Takes Home Two Awards at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards

Jackie Fast, MD of Slingshot Sponsorship was awarded with two awards for the Media Disruptor Entrepreneur of the Year at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, held at Old Billingsgate in London on November 19th, 2014.  In association with NatWest, the awards celebrated entrepreneurs who embody a spirit of disruption, innovation and enterprise.  Regarded as the new benchmark for entrepreneurial success in the UK, the awards celebrated the contributions and innovations of British entrepreneurs and their impact on the economy.

With some extremely talent nominations (see full list of nominations for the category here) within the Media Disruptor of the Year Award, Jackie Fast was given Bronze in the overall category losing to Shane Lake from HungryHouse who took home Gold.

In addition, Jackie was given the NatWest Special Merit Award beating out Sarah Wood, Founder of Unruly and Jay Radia, Founder of Yieldify.

To see the full list of winners from the Great British Entrepreneur Awards click here.



Creating Transformational Moments Through Location Technology

The development of location technology is growing fast and has major implication to sponsorship – especially when considering location services to engage brands to their customers onsite at the events that they sponsor.  Understandably, Apple was the first to launch with the Apple iBeacon.  Shortly after Samsung launched Proximity as the “mobile marketing platform that connects consumers with places via cutting-edge Samsung location and context-aware technology.”

The potential of this technology is limitless, but made essentially relevant for retail sales.  Imagine you are in M&S to purchase yourself a cashmere scarf.  If M&S employed location technology via in-store transmitters, upon arrival the store could tell not only tell you what cashmere scarves are available, but also what gloves might match and where they can be found.  Upselling in-store no longer needs to be done by the sales people on the ground, but applied in your hand.

The influence on sponsorship and the physical space

The development of this type of technology further erodes the traditional sponsorship model, making way for a new breed of thinking driving effective, collaborative partnerships that demand a deeper understanding of consumer behaviour and engagement.  This potential need not only be applied to Westfield, but also within football stadiums, music festivals, science museums and children’s museums – allowing sponsors and rights holder to effectively influence and engage with their audiences.

The intriguing aspect of this technology which isn’t particularly new, is deciphering the data location technology generates. Rewarding loyal, frequent shoppers with unique events or rewards offers brands an extended and tangible asset to target and communicate a specific demographic.

Smartphones making us work smarter

Brands want to take greater ownership in the festivals and events they support to the dislike of some event organisers. However, turning this insight into commercial solutions that ultimately drive sales is what excites top level marketers (and Slingshot employees!).

Marketers are driven by media content because it works – it’s that simple.  However our sponsorship solutions shouldn’t be limited by this alone.  Instead, sponsorship professionals need to start questioning the true value of collective goals – ensuring involvement and activation drives purpose beyond the traditional.  Utilising location services not only helps sponsorship professionals do their jobs better, but more importantly adds significant value to the customer’s experience, which is what matters most.

Richard Branson Asks Me About Collaboration

You are reading an article from Virgin’s Entrepreneur series.  You can read the full article here.

I am a champion for collaboration – I built a business on it.  However, it seems more and more recently this isn’t becoming new news.  Successful companies in today’s landscape are taking notice and driving their business forward through partnerships by uncovering business synergies.  In the business world, this is collaboration; however, most of the time – the partnership is a reflection of what a good sponsorship strategy can do for a business.

Sponsorship is finally moving away from the pitch.

I recently spoke at the Western Canada Sponsorship Congress on how to create sponsorship strategies that provide real business value rather than just marketing value.  However, it’s impossible to start considering sponsorship as a framework to provide core business value when conversations are initiated around different objectives at the outset – most often focused on reach and demographic.  However, integrating a sponsorship strategy into a business can drive more than brand awareness and we should be championing this as an effective use, considering the value sponsorship can deliver when worked that little bit harder.

The current economy is finally shifting towards understanding and utilising collaboration as a business driver, and sponsorship professionals are often the best placed people to integrate this effectively based on their significant experience and expertise.  Which is why it always surprises me when sponsorship agencies are so focused on their competitor’s client roster, when the world really is their oyster.


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