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Prism Managing Director Says Brands Will Be More Cautious With Sponsorship Spend

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n an exclusive interview, Prism managing director, Shannan Quinn, told Ministry of Sport there are a lot of brands still happy and willing to invest in sport, but they will be more cautious with their spend due to COVID-19.

“A lot of people ask me, ‘do you feel that brands are still interested in investing in sponsorship?’ and ‘is there enough money to keep the sponsorship industry afloat?’,” Quinn told Ministry of Sport.

“We’ve found that there definitely is, and not only with the clients and major brands we look after.

“We also have a sports rights division of our business where we own and under-right a number of sports stadia media and code assets which we then commercialise, and through that process, we’re still finding a lot of interest.

“There’s a lot of brands that are still willing to invest in sport, what we’ve found is there’s probably a lot more brands in that mid-lower range instead of the obvious and endemic brands in the high range, so you’re probably going to have a lot less partners willing to drop 6 or 7 million dollars for rights of a major rights holder.

“We’ve noticed various brands are looking to trim their sponsorship spend a little bit more cautiously.

“Whether its brands that can’t necessarily afford to sponsor a club or code officially, we are seeing a pivot to more creative deals across the industry.

“I think we’re seeing a lot more creativity for how they’re gaining their sponsorship, but at the same time I still feel like there’s a lot of interest and that’s not going away.

“The ratings for the major codes have been very strong, and we’re still getting briefs and having conversations; I think a lot of brands are just using this as an opportunity to re-evaluate their sponsorship spend and their output.

“Compared to 15 years ago, it is very different, rights holders are even using this as an opportunity to look internally and say, ‘we need to be more efficient with our resourcing and personnel’.

“On top of that, you also have seen what the networks are doing, the likes of Seven with Cricket Australia with their existing broadcast deal, and you’ve also seen the same with Channel Nine and what they did with the NRL trying to renegotiate current broadcast deals,” he said.

When asked how COVID-19 has changed the sports industry and what the future will look like for sports in the post-COVID-19 world, Quinn said the fans will be the real winners.

“I think sport in general has changed for good,” Quinn said.

“It’s too early to tell if it is going to be better for brands, better for rights holders or better for the media, but I think inevitably it’ll be better for fans, which is probably the most important sector to be looking after.

‘They’re the ones that drive the game, they’re the eyeballs; I think all the learnings that have come out of this will benefit the fans the most, which is the greatest outcome…

“I think quite blatantly, the industry as a whole has changed forever.

“The fans are such an imperative part of sport, regardless of the product, they are a massive part of the decision to sponsor any club or code, because fans inevitably are customers.

“Whether you’re KFC trying to sell chicken, whether you’re Vodafone trying to sell broadband packages, or whether you’re BP trying to sell fuel, it doesn’t matter how you skin it, fans are customers.

“They have to make up a massive part of your marketing mix,” he said.

Discussing the impact COVID-19 has had on Prism as a business and their influence on the sports sponsorship market, Quinn said the timing of working with Vodafone to sign as a major partner for Cricket Australia helped bolster the organisation’s operations in the face of the global pandemic.

“When COVID-19 hit in early March, we were poised to have a pretty normal and positive year; we had a couple of our major clients renew some of their major contracts which was great, being KFC across the NRL and Cricket, and BP across their major Supercars partnership,” Quinn said.

“Around the start of March we were brought in with Vodafone to have a look at their entire sponsorship portfolio and we did a deep dive and analysed all of their sponsorships, of which they had about 12 or 13.

“They saw the opportunity to engage us to look through their entire suite of assets and provide detailed recommendations moving forward.

“They wanted to look for new opportunities aligned to their new sports strategy and their new creative campaign that was coming out mid-this year.

“We were engaged to do this project right at the start of COVID-19, so we were quite lucky at the timing of this.

“The team worked really hard on this specific project.

“We went away and evaluated their portfolio in granular detail, spent about six weeks doing so, and our recommendations were received really well, resulting in Prism being retained to work with Vodafone on their existing suite of partnerships moving forward.

“Then also, during that process, we started working on negotiating a major partnership, which ended up with us announcing the Cricket Australia partnership,” he said.