Purpose and Your Sponsorship. Telling a Story That Matters..

By Posted in - Sponsorship on June 25th, 2020

A few years ago I called up my colleague, Brian Cooper, who was then President of the S&E Group and asked him if we would sit down with me and my then client, Cycling Canada for some insights on sponsorship. Brian, if you didn’t know, had worked with legend Steve Bauer on producing a Toronto based cycling race back in the day so I knew that he would have much to offer. The conversation was lively and quickly moved away from selling sponsorships based on impressions to selling against purpose. Let’s face it, for all the impressions counters out there in the sponsorship world who value a partnership based purely on numbers, properties like Cycling Canada (and so many others) cannot compete against major league teams.  Cycling offered brands a direct connection to a movement of health and wellness and even pillars like sustainability through clean energy imagery and positioning. Combine that with a decent reach to a targeted demographic and suddenly your sponsorship is telling a story.

Fast forward to today. Wow. With a significant disruption due to Covid-19 and affirmative eruption of the Black Lives Matter movement, purpose seems to be the lead on every marketing newsfeed. Just as I started writing this article, Strategy Magazine came out with some compelling research: 

“Consumers are four times more likely to purchase from a brand that has a strong purpose, and are four-and-a-half times more likely to be an advocate for that brand among friends and family, the study found. Also, 94% of respondents stated it’s important that companies have a clear and strong brand purpose – however, only 37% of global respondents think companies actually do; that number is even lower among Canadian respondents, at 21%.”

With the absence of most professional sports, live events/festivals brands are going to need to make a shift in their sponsorship investments. And even when pro sports come back, will it be ok to be solely promoting your brand with a logo on a rink board or will they need to combine their marks with their purpose (like Bell Let’s Talk)? As I mentioned in my article back in March, things are going to change, and we are starting to see what the new expectations of consumers will be. It is up to brands to ensure they are connecting to consumers with high-relevance, esteem, differentiation and consistency through greater purpose than just profits. 

At DEC, we are moving even deeper towards purpose for both brands, properties and athletes. It started with that conversation with Mr. Cooper and then blossomed with an encounter with Afdhel Aziz who co wrote the book on purpose, Good Is The New Cool with Bobby Jones. Replace the word Coolwith Relevance and I feel it sums it all up. If brands want to remain relevant they will have to change how they show up in the minds of consumers (whether that is in advertising, marketing or social).   Aziz professed “consumers are demanding increased social responsibility from their brands while still insisting on cutting edge products with on-trend design.” Brands need to be relevant but now they also must promote “good” not just goods.

We are excited to announce that we are working with Olympic champion and Officer of the Order of Canada, Beckie Scott, the founder and CEO of Spirit North.  She, and the Board of Directors of Spirit North, have worked diligently to create one of Canada’s leading sport-for-social-development organizations with programs reaching over 6,000 Indigenous children and youth in 60 communities and 77 schools across the country. 

Indigenous children and youth are Canada’s single most at-risk population.   They are in the most disadvantaged position in the country as it relates to every main determinant of well-being – physical and mental health, poverty and education.  Before health vulnerabilities and systemic racism were in the headlines, they were conditions that Indigenous communities lived with every day.  We trust you agree this is no longer someone else’s problem and that this cycle must be broken.

We have collectively created incredible and rewarding opportunities for brands to do good in this community: making a difference where one is absolutely required. Spirit North partners with corporations who are committed to empowering children and youth to learn, grow, thrive and strengthen themselves and their communities.  In return, we share our voice and our platform so that our partners can communicate their commitment to reconciliation, equality and a brighter future for all.  These kids need heroes and that is exactly what it can be for your brand.

Please DM me if you would like to have a meaningful conversation about purpose, Spirit North or any of our other programs we represent. Together we can make a difference for what is good for your brand and the community in which you thrive.