Earlier this year, when talking about their major international partnerships within women’s netball, Chrissy Fice, brand director of Vitality, said “we’ve been able to innovate…rather than taking a cookie-cutter approach to [the sponsorship]”. They supplemented their partnership with various indents across Sky Sports, utilised a #WeAreRising initiative to integrate with those involved at grassroots level and, importantly, liaised with the federation to ensure the partnership had a long-lasting effect on the sports participation. This later point was absolutely fundamental to the success of the sponsorship, making for what would be a very peculiar shaped cookie indeed.

Nobody should accept a standard, copy and paste, take it or leave it style service.

This rings true for sport sponsorship just as much as it does for when you go to buy your next car, choose which school to send your kid to or visit the hairdresser. We all prefer that that personalised, unique and tailored service, moulded neatly around our individual wants, requirements and desires whilst managing not to cross the very thin privacy line we all have. Some do it well, most don’t.

Jeff Bezos famously said the ‘secret sauce’ to Amazon’s success is an ‘obsessive compulsive focus’ on customer over competitor. From free two-day shipping to streaming movies and grocery delivery with 1 click, Amazon is continuously innovating to solve customer problems and make the experience centred around you and your buying habits.

Here in the UK, First Direct consistently top the list on customer rating with banks. Mostly due to their focus on quick, informative and specific responses to their valued customers. From a 24/7 helpline and social media team, you’re felt a priority with a personal service at the touch of a button.

And whilst not all of us may be lucky enough to experience it, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company famously allow any employee to spend up to $2,000 per day to improve a guest’s experience. Whether you’re a waiter, a receptionist or a cleaner, you’re encouraged to do what you can to make someone’s visit unforgettably unique.

In the world of sport sponsorship, it’s not quite as easy as recommending a tent because you bought a sleeping bag, answering the phone quickly or gifting a customer a laptop charger as they’ve lost theirs. It often requires rights holders to think outside the box and forget the status quo. Most recently, Paddy Power achieved this with their various front of shirt partnerships within football which gained attention for their lack of front of shirt branding. This ‘unsponsoring’ of the clubs is to make the point that football shirts aren’t billboards, which, unsurprisingly, was headline news in the world of sport. This stunt created lots of positive PR and will continue to do so over the course of the season as viewers can’t help but notice the lack of branding which has become standard.

The female first social networking platform Bumble decided to spend $20m to be the first patch sponsor for basketball giants, the LA Clippers. In fact, the message is clear that it’s not actually a patch, but an ‘empowerment badge’, encouraging equality in the world of sport both on and off the court. The Clippers paved way for this ground-breaking partnership by generating awareness for diversity and gender equality, most notably through hiring the NBA’s only female team president in Gillian Zucker. This clear sign of commitment has ensured that the various activations are implemented with a clear purpose and direction towards Bumbles core values.

In the same way that sponsorship of a football team used to start and stop with a logo on the front of the shirt, the industry is continuing to change drastically. Our dynamic, responsive and tight knit team at Blackcastle Sport are proud to be at the forefront of this approach. No two of our partnerships are the same as we take the time to deeply understand our clients and their objectives and then create a package completely bespoke and unique based on these markers. We don’t believe that all partnerships should be created equally, to paraphrase a famous saying, and we’ve also thrown our cookie cutter in the recycling.

To discuss this approach further give us a call on 0207 099 99 00.