No Letting Go: Why the sponsorship game is a long one


In 1925, Ford made the decision to sponsor Australia’s Geelong Football Club and 91 years later, the automobile company is still the club’s main sponsor and has been key in providing support to the club, through the good times and the bad times. Ford aren’t the only company with long standing sponsorship relationships. From Coca-Cola and the Olympic Games, to Canon and the World Cup tournaments, sponsorships are spanning decades with no end in sight.

Nigel Beacham, Commercial Director at Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, looks at four partnerships and why they have remained strong.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

In November 2015, Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Unicef celebrated a 20-year partnership that has helped improve the lives of over 4.5 million children. Since 1995, guests visiting Starwood hotels have raised almost $35 million through Check Out for Children, a project which allows Starwood guests to add $1, £1 or €1 to their bill to support Unicef’s work for children.

By finding a simple way to support charitable giving through their guests, Starwood Hotels have been able to contribute towards sustainable and long-term improvements in communities around the globe contribute whilst remaining front of mind with their clients in all territories they operate in.

Anything else just isn’t tennis

Slazenger and Robinsons are two companies which are synonymous with the Wimbledon Championships

Slazenger provided its first hand-sewn balls to Wimbledon in 1902 and more than 100 years later, its balls can still be seen on court. The partnership between Wimbledon and Slazenger is reportedly the longest running at 114 years. Robinsons’ Barley Water was born in 1935, and has appeared by the umpire’s chair ever since.

There are many benefits of partnering with globally iconic events like the Wimbledon Championships, but for both Slazenger and Robinsons, it’s about more than just exposure.

The association reflects an alignment of values. Heritage, performance, quality and an enduring association with Englishness and summer days. Through these values both brands stand out from their competitors and will no doubt continue to protect their partnership long into the future.

If Carlsberg did Sponsorships

The longest serving partnership of any Barclays Premier League club was Carlsberg’s sponsorship of Liverpool FC. The Danish beer was the club’s main shirt sponsor for 17 years, before becoming their official beer partner in 2010.

During the 21 seasons Carlsberg sponsored Liverpool, it is estimated that over 5.7 million pints of Carlsberg were served at Anfield, more than enough to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool.

Despite these impressive numbers Carlsberg launched a marketing campaign in 2013 designed to rejuvenate the brand and achieve its objective of becoming the world’s fastest-growing global beer company. By constantly pursuing the link between their marketing and commercial returns and capitalising on football’s ever growing following, Carlsberg has been able to maintain their position at the top of the world of beer’s premier league.

The Birth of a Sailing City

The Chinese city of Qingdao began its relationship with the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in the 2005-06 edition, and is the longest serving Team Sponsor and Host Port in the race’s 19 year history.

Qingdao’s dream was to promote itself as China’s ‘city of sailing’, whilst attracting other major events by showcasing the city’s Olympic facilities to a global audience. The Clipper Race played a vital role in ensuring the city was ready to host the world’s most prestigious sporting event, with sailing participation continuing to grow throughout China during its ten year relationship with the race. During the first race, only one Chinese sailor took part. This figure rose to twelve Chinese nationals in the Clipper 2013-14 Race, and twenty in the current race.

Aside from raising Qingdao’s international profile, the Clipper Race has been used by the city as a global trade platform, promoting Chinese brands in the race stopovers around the world. The partnership has also seen the last two Clipper Race yacht fleets being built in Qingdao’s shipyards, further deepening the city’s association with the marine sector beyond a marketing agreement.

According to PwC, sports sponsorship will remain a growth area as brands explore the opportunity to engage with mass consumer audiences in more innovative ways. With the recent news of companies like Anheuser-Busch, Dunlop and Three renewing their sports partnerships with Bud Light, the British Touring Car Championship and the Irish National football team respectively, it seems long term partnerships are here to stay.

Find out more about the Clipper Race partnerships here.