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ESA survey reveals short-term uncertainty, long-term confidence in sponsorship

(Photo by Federico Guerra Moran/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Research from the European Sponsorship Association (ESA) has revealed confidence in the long-term health of the sponsorship industry, despite Covid-19.

First results from ‘ESA Sponsorship Sentiment Tracker‘ research found the majority of sponsors are changing their approaches during lockdown but plan to honour contracts going forward.

Moreover, only 30 per cent of respondents agreed that Covid-19 will have a major long-term negative impact on sponsorship.

The ESA Sponsorship Sentiment Tracker is a new industry survey gauging the health and confidence of leading sponsorship organisations across Europe. More than 150 thought leaders and senior sponsorship professionals from across Europe took part in the survey.

Respondents were nevertheless uncertain about the overall health of sponsorship, with an average confidence score of 5.5 out of 10. Brands were marginally more positive than rights-holders.

Andy Westlake, chairman of ESA, said that more than 70 per cent of sponsors plan to extend or adapt their current deals. He added: “I have a strong belief that those brands that continue to support sports and entertainment will undoubtedly reap long-term rewards.

“There are certainly challenges ahead but we work in an industry that thrives on innovation and I remain positive, once live events return, that our industry will be ready to recover quickly”.

Beyond sentiment, the research found that 43 per cent of surveyed companies had furloughed employees, including two-thirds of rights-holders.

Of those which have temporarily laid off staff, the average headcount reduction per business was around 40-to-50 per cent.

This is expected to translate to longer-term impacts on sports and entertainment, with three-quarters of all respondents believing that some events and rights holders will disappear.

Other findings from the survey included:

  • Just under one third of respondents have applied for government help, with a further 33 per cent saying they plan to or may do
  • 67 per cent of respondents are working on several different business strategies depending on the length of the lockdown
  • More than half of responses predict a higher appetite for live events in the long-term
  • 81 per cent expect to see the widespread adoption of flexible working
  • 70 per cent anticipate greater consumption of digital content.

ESA said that the Sponsorship Sentiment Tracker will be surveyed on a regular basis in the coming months.