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Back to School: Sponsorship Core Courses

Bill Glenn's picture

The end of summer means back to school. And back to school means it’s time for students to clear those summer cobwebs and get back to the “core basics.”

It’s in this spirit clients and properties alike should also use this time of year to do a quick performance report card against the basic core courses of sponsorship.

So using a little creative license, here’s your sponsorship “core course” catalog for reference:


Academically speaking, philosophy relates to the fundamental nature of reality and existence. Similarly, sponsorship strategy must deliver consistent messaging to fans and attendees that identifies why a brand sponsors a particular property. In other words, what core message is the sponsorship attempting to amplify and does the property enable and connect to that position?

“ Philosophy is the framework for critical thinking and reasoning,” says Tim McGhee, Founder and Principal of MSP Sports. “ Absent a grounded sponsorship philosophy, fans walk away understanding little about what the brand represents and experience a disconnect as to why the brand is even a sponsor.”


Sociologists study human social behavior. In other words, who’s in a group and what influences the way they interact and behave? Accordingly, a sponsorship evaluation should always start with, “Does the property’s fan base deliver those targets the brand seeks to engage?” If it does, the natural follow-up question is, “How do they behave?”

Sports fans are unique. What’s the difference between a “somewhat avid” fan and an “avid” fan? How do you define it? The difference may be in how they engage the sport. For example, how can a brand distinguish a season ticket holder, premium online subscriber, and a loyal television viewer?

By identifying these behavioral differences and producing programs which address them, brands and sponsorship properties create an environment that can breed success.


English is one subject few, if any of us, question as to the value it provides in our day-to-day job. Effective communication is both the foundation of a productive society as well as the foundation of a meaningful sponsorship.

Those sponsorships that fail to effectively communicate nearly always also fail to renew. Eric Fernandez, Senior Vice President of MediaLink, sums it up best: “The lynchpin to a successful sponsorship is an integrated activation strategy that includes a variety of communication channels. It delivers a galvanizing message, but is flexible to the target’s preferred way of communicating.”


As the science that deals with the production, distribution and consumption of products, economics is a basis for measuring productivity. More and more, it’s this science that also determines the ultimate fate of a sponsorship investment.

At a micro level, sponsorship productivity may be assessed by how well a property aligns with brand attributes while a macro level may be about revenue. Some brands may flip that model.

Regardless of simplicity or complexity, there are two critical points to sponsorship economics. First, ensure you have a model and second, use the model. In the absence of a measurement model, economics will simply transform to economies that are represented by the financial savings of a sponsorship that’s not renewed because there was no proof of performance.

Class dismissed.

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