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Luke Organ | The changing landscape of commercial activity amid Covid-19  

Luke Organ, Right Formula’s managing director of commercial, explains how Covid-19 has focused minds on digital engagements to achieve business objectives. 

In the current climate, the challenge for rights-holder commercial teams is almost exclusively being able to: a) capture attention, and b) convince budget-holders to spend.

If the value proposition and solution being presented are not well thought through, then it would be fair for commercial teams to expect to receive some fairly blunt responses from the marketplace at present.

Everyone is talking about the need for the sponsorship landscape to change its approach in valuation and activation methodologies.

That’s a given and, frankly, if we’re not thinking in this manner, then I quite often refer back to Henry Ford when he said: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

While the value points of sport and entertainment remain true, the current environment is mandating a change in approach by commercial departments.

In today’s world, the lack of traditional assets is focusing minds – and the vast majority of marketing spend – into digital routes. Digital and marketing teams must now work harmoniously with – or as part of – commercial departments to service all stakeholders needs.

Value propositions and purchase cycles must be at the heart of all commercial thinking in order to achieve quantifiable and measurable business outcomes for partners.

As brands consider their investment in the sporting field, or for those who are considering investing in the same, the challenge will be to find the rights-holder who can address how they will help the brand ultimately achieve its objectives.

More developed markets and verticals want to focus on latter stages of the purchase cycle – the trigger opportunities, the drive to conversion and the affinity and advocacy for their brands.

Rights-holders still build out their valuation stack utilising traditional media returns and tangible assets, while seemingly ignoring industry trends that show more than 70 per cent of global marketing budget is directed towards digital activities, with a view to driving conversion and advocacy.

Brands must be able to locate the right partner who can support in an aligned manner. In the recent 2020 Global Marketing Trends Report by Deloitte, they identify that purpose-driven companies witness higher market share gains and grow on average three times faster than their competitors.

Now, how many rights-holders in sport and entertainment lead with a clear purpose and conviction to their raison-d’etre? Authenticity to this strategy is paramount and while brands continue to do more around purpose-led initiatives, sport and entertainment has some way to go to as a whole to catch up.

 As always, talent remains crucial to drive clear understanding and interpretation of a rights-holders value proposition. Alongside this, in a market where there is no sporting activity, we are seeing increasing numbers of rights-holders furloughing staff. This will ultimately lead to negative growth in their pipeline development.

Brands in certain segments are still marketing and are still spending, albeit with adjusted or curtailed objectives in mind. Rights-holders sit on some of the most engaging and compelling materials that the digital industry has to offer, and so as the on-field action halts, the off-field action should continue – however with a much more rigorous consideration in place as to how it can help stakeholders.

Failure to balance talent with stakeholder needs will see an adverse effect on pipeline development, which, in turn, delays revenue conversion, promotes negativity around the proposition and therefore has continued negative financial consequence.

Sport and entertainment is so resilient. It forms a corner stone for communities across the world and has done for many, many decades. Although our landscape will change, we have to believe in the strength of our arena and the fans’ desire for our product.

That desire will continue to fuel the engine and, in doing so, continue to attract the support and interest from the marketplace as to how both fans and corporate partners can consume and leverage this unparalleled space.

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