Sponsorships takes off just in a different direction

2016-11-03 06:01
 Llewellyn Allen

Llewellyn Allen

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Delivering brand value from sports sponsorships is a challenge for every marketing executive.

There’s one relatively safe, but expensive, route in putting money behind a high profile personality, team, competition or event (usually with guaranteed TV coverage) and then investing a conventional multiple in ad spend to promote the connection.

And there’s another low flying route in going on the ground and adopting manifold smaller events in the hope that they accumulate into broader awareness.

Llewellyn Allen at Metropolitan believes the financial services brand has found a third way that is achieving great resonance; “We have really thrown our weight behind the relatively unheralded MoJo series of runs and unconventionally promoted the essence of what they represent – African success and community heritage”.

The Metropolitan MoJo Series consists of races that resonate with the communities in which Metropolitan operates including the Township to Township (T2T) marathon from uMlazi to KwaMashu in KZN, the Diepkloof Half Marathon in Soweto and The Slave Route Challenge in Cape Town.

“We don’t only see these as races where we can build the brand but also as opportunities to drive recognition of these communities and the people who live in them and to celebrate what makes them great. At Metropolitan we believe sponsorship works when you are engaging stakeholders on an emotional level and it’s a total partnership between the organisation and the community. We promote these fun, healthy events and deliver financial wellness guidance on the ground during them. Bringing it all back to one simple message: Together we can.”

Allen says that each of these events was well established, and generally volunteer organised but not widely known, with little of the kind of traditional media coverage that usually attracts a big sponsor.

“The brand has invested heavily in the challenge of not only driving up participation in these runs to improve the health of the communities involved but also telling the inspiring human stories that lie within them. We gave our agency full creative rein and the result was the ‘I Run This’ campaign which we believe is a ground breaker in sponsorship marketing in its edgy focus on the way that individuals run their lives and achieve their goals. It’s also a real and positive view of real South Africans which is rarely reflected in traditional marketing.”

In the case of T2T, aspiring model Sbahle Siba, Gagasi FM DJ Kini Shandu and prominent athlete twins Diana-Lebo and Lebogang Phalula were used as ambassadors for the campaign.

For the Slave Route Challenge, which is run through central Cape Town, the ‘iamrunningfor’ campaign encouraged every entrant to run in the name of one of the original slaves in the city.

Allen explains that “there are 8000 different names on the Column of Memory at the Iziko Slave Lodge and we got more than enough entrants for every one of those names to be carried proudly by runners through the historic heart of the city.”

“By running for a specific name, the race honours individuals as opposed to statistics and celebrates the diversity of all the entrants. This takes the race to a whole new level and instils a sense of unity and understanding of our different stories and viewpoints which is so critical at this point in our history”.

Allen views the MoJo series as a long-term investment for Metropolitan: “Our primary purpose is to help develop financial wellness in all its forms to do so we want to be a partner in building events and a sense of heritage in spaces that mean something to people”.


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