One week on from IEG 2015 in Chicago, I have had a chance to reflect on what I learned and the experience overall. The conference is widely regarded as the largest sponsorship conference in the world, and it is an impressive event. It runs with impeccable time-keeping and overall the content was excellent. My biggest takeaway was that we are right on trend in Ireland, and this was comforting, if a little disappointing. I was hoping to uncover some magic formulas for measurement or some secrets to excellent activation. It would appear our own industry is well ahead.
A highlight was certainly the presentation from Evelyn Molloy of Mayo Clinic and Ryan Tanke of The Minnesota Timberwolves. Through their partnership, Mayo Clinic have evolved their leadership position into Sports Medicine with an onsite facility at the training ground and the Timberwolves players, can be treated onsite for injuries immediately with access to top class doctors, physiotherapists and surgeons. Their unique partnership means they are now well and truly embedded in each other’s business for the long haul and to their mutual benefit. The facility is also open to the public.
Dan Griffis, head of sponsorship at retailer Target spoke about all the different properties Target are involved with and had some interesting advice on how he views ratios in sponsorship. Dan stated that Target tend to use a ratio of 35:55:10 – which is Sponsorship Fee: Activation Budget: Measurement budget. It was refreshing to see measurement being included in this debate, and activation budgets getting priority.
The keynote address was from former teacher and philanthropist Charles Best, who founded DonorsChoose.org, a story which received a standing ovation from the 1,200 strong crowd. Everyone in the audience got a €25 giftcard for his website, where ordinary teachers post projects they need funding for, and ordinary people can donate towards or pay for the class project. This is an incredible story, founded on a simple proposition and an answer to a real problem. DonorsChoose.org is instantly replicable in other markets, but they have no plans to expand beyond America.
Finally, my experience at IEG 2015 ended with a super presentation from Thomas Van Schaik of Adidas, about the Twitter account of Brazuca (the ball from World Cup 2014). This was the first time Adidas spent more on digital activation of their sponsorship than any other media. Thomas’s advice, ‘celebrate what you stand for and reserve the lion’s share of your budget for amplification’, this struck exactly the right chord with me!