Knowledge Centre Blog

An Evolving Sponsorship Relationship

November 28, 2012 2:09 pm

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Jameson and The Dublin Film Festival celebrate the tenth anniversary of their association in 2012, and a relationship that has seen the audience for the event grow to over 41,000 each year. By Linda Daly

Joanne O’Hagan, CEO, Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, says the relationship with Jameson has been second to none.

“Without their support of both the festival and film in general we couldn’t be the festival we are. I’d even question if we could exist.”

She puts the success of the affiliation down to the commitment to continuously build the relationship, and says as the business environment changes arts organisations must understand the evolving requirements of the sponsor and vice versa.

“It’s about having a really good communication channel between the sponsor and arts organisation. Things are never perfect for the first year or two but you must have open dialogue, honesty and a willingness to examine and assess each other’s needs in detail in an effort to improve things moving forward.”

Jane Chmara, marketing manager, Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard says the relationship has grown in line with the expansion of the festival.

“We believe it’s a fantastic festival and confirmed that belief last year when we signed a new three year contract, which takes us up to 2015 as title sponsors. We’re really excited about it,” she says.

From a marketing perspective, the festival is the right fit, according to Chmara.

“Any sponsorship arrangement must be a good fit with the brand. Film is core to Jameson’s DNA and it’s something we embrace globally as a brand. We’re involved in a number of projects including the Jameson First Shot – Short Film Competition with Kevin Spacey and the Empire Awards in London.”

Chmara says there is a “fantastic synergy” between Jameson and the Dublin International Film Festival, as the people in both organisations share a strong passion for the event. Both parties meet once a month to discuss the programme.

“We regularly assess how successful the partnership is and what we could do differently. We try to keep the relationship fresh, and make sure we have good, open and honest relationships between key members. The fact that we have similar goals has really helped,” says Chmara.

It’s not only the relationship between sponsor and arts organisation that continues to progress; the festival itself continuously innovates. This year saw the introduction of a new brand identity, enhanced through a 360 degree national advertising campaign across mixed media.

“We’ve hit great heights in terms of the profile of the festival and continue to attract prolific international guests as well as some really interesting playwrights,” says O’Hagan.

“For us it’s not always about the red carpet, it’s red carpet meets art house,” she adds.

Along with the marketing benefits achieved through its sponsorship of the festival, Jameson and Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard also see it as forming part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy.

Over the past four years, the festival has taken a strong community and outreach focus. In 2012 it ran a programme called Picture House, which brought the festival to 10 care centres around Dublin, and had Brenda Fricker as patron. Five care centres have developed permanent film clubs as a result.

In 2011, the festival was brought out into the streets of the capital with scenes from Some Like it Hot and West Side Story staged in the open air.  Two years prior to that in 2009, public screenings were held of iconic films in the locations they were shot.

“Art and culture are very much an important part of our society,” says Chmara.

“Irish people love going to the cinema, and the fact that the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival has become such a success not just in Ireland but internationally is indicative of its strength,” she adds.

Jameson and the Dublin International Film Festival won the award for Best Large Sponsorship at the 2012 Allianz Business to Arts Awards.

Technology and The Arts Converge

November 28, 2012 12:24 pm

Michelle Browne - RISK, video still, 2011 from Quantified Self with Shimmer Research at the LAB Gallery 2011

Fledgling technology firm Shimmer Research is set to launch new products on the back of a collaborative artistic project with the LAB Gallery in Dublin. By Linda Daly

Shimmer has been in existence for just four years but already has a staff of 25 and offices in Boston and Ireland. The company develops wearable sensors that detect movement and emotion, and applies its technology to a clinical and healthcare setting. For example, one sensor can tell if a person with Alzheimer’s disease is getting stressed.

Shimmer was invited to collaborate with Dublin artists as part of the Innovation Dublin Festival in the LAB Gallery. The aim was to develop a greater understanding of innovation and creativity.

Kieran Daly, vice president of business development, Shimmer Research says the collaboration gave the company a chance to look at things differently.

He cites the example of one project which saw artist Michelle Browne invite three property developers who had suffered massive losses in the downturn to play a game of Texas Hold ‘Em Poker.

One of Shimmer’s sensors is called a GSR, which acts as the underlying technology in lie detector tests. A small sensor worn on a wrist band wirelessly picks up if people are highly stressed.

The three developers, as well as the artist, were ‘shimmered up’ during the game with interesting results showing one individual in a high state of constant stress.

“We would never have used this sensor for that type of application idea, and have come up with very good product ideas as a result,” says Daly.

“It has helped us diversify and take the focus off technology in the clinical setting.”

Convergence between technology and the arts is the key to success, according to Daly.

“There are very few companies that can survive and lead in their field if they stay on their own. Likewise, there is a tendency among artists to surround themselves with a lot of artists. We need to blur the lines between people who are existing in silos,” he says.

Sheena Barrett, curator, the LAB Gallery agrees.

“Working with other disciplines allows you to reflect on your own way of working as it forces you to communicate your ideas but also your approaches to people outside your field of work.”

As a small firm, Shimmer contributed to the project by donating hardware and time. Its engineers worked with each artist to write software.

By giving engineering time, the firm engaged its employees.

“Many of our customers both current and potential aren’t technologically trained, nor do they need to be, so it helped improve our interaction with clients. Being shortlisted for the creative engagement award is something we were also particularly proud of,” says Daly.

Barrett says it emerged very quickly that Shimmer was open to the risk-taking inherent in an artist’s practice. They had, she adds, plenty to contribute to the conversation, thought processes and problem solving.

“Shimmer Research offered the promise to facilitate new ways of working for our artists. They were great to work with. If at times they were bemused by requests, they were always respectful of the artists’ practices,” says Barrett.

“It’s not every day you are asked to work on a project that involves putting sensors on a dressage horse to record its movements and heartbeats. And in turn generate a sound piece in effect composed by the horse, as was the case in Bea McMahon’s One Letter Poem.”

After completion of the projects a two-month show was held at the LAB, and comprised a booklet guide and series of workshops where Shimmer engineers and the artists gave talks.

While the LAB is part of Dublin City Council, Barrett says sponsorship provided by Shimmer Research allowed it to augment its core programme.

“This partnership allowed us to support artists to realise ambitious projects that challenged their current practice. It was also instrumental in attracting new target audiences outside of our usual publics.”

Talks are underway between the two entities about future projects.

Shimmer Research and The LAB Gallery are winners of 2012 Allianz Business to Arts Award for Best Small Sponsorship

Modern Day Heroes

November 15, 2012 11:21 pm

The Moderns, IMMA

The Moderns, IMMA

‘The Moderns’ was a major exhibition of modern art from IMMA’s own collection, joined with supporting material from a variety of other historical State sources. The exhibition, which took over most of the museum, attracted 135,000 visitors, 28pc of whom had never been to IMMA before.

According to Hugo Jellett, former Head of Development at IMMA, the exhibition had a profound effect on the country culturally and was also hugely important for the museum itself, which, he says, has not done quite as much for Irish art as it has for international art over the last 10 years.

He stresses that BNP Paribas’ support had a big impact on how the museum was able to promote and enhance the exhibition, which ultimately turned it into one of its most successful events to date.

While Jellett had spent several years trying to attract BNP Paribas as a partner, the nature of the exhibition and scale of the sponsorship were completely different to what he had originally envisaged, he says.

His initial objective was to get BNP Paribas to emulate what it has done for many years in Paris – namely to sponsor a contemporary art event. “I offered them all sorts of French artists coming up but their reaction was ‘No, we want something which is recognised as being really important to Ireland’.”

Gilles de Decker, CEO of BNP in Dublin, explains that when the idea of sponsoring ‘The Moderns’ was presented to the bank, it was felt that the collaboration was a good fit to expand the philanthropic footprint of the group in a local context. “It was essentially an exhibition of the nation’s collection, the largest of its kind to date, and in that regard was an optimistic and celebratory project at a time that the arts required support,” he says.

Without a sponsor in place for an exhibition there is always a possibility of compromise in some aspect of the show.  “If no sponsorship comes, it can still take place, but the impact may not reach its potential” says Jellett.

So, as a result of receiving a substantial amount of money from BNP Paribas, the museum was in a position to produce an important 500-page book on ‘The Moderns’ and also had a budget to develop and run a TV and radio campaign.

“Doing TV ads for art exhibitions is not something usually attainable,” says Jellett. “It helped snowball this whole promotional effect for the exhibition.”

Another outcome was funding by the Department of Arts to create an online gallery.

“What the BNP Paribas support did was turn a relatively straightforward, exhibition into probably the biggest exhibition we’ve had,” concludes Jellett. “In a challenging time, there was a real swelling of pride, a real sense of achievement that happened to come at a good time for the country and I think it made quite a lot of people come and visit, and keep returning.”

According to de Decker, BNP Paribas regards its sponsorship of The Moderns as a successful partnership with IMMA. “It supported a landmark exhibition for the museum while providing both access and awareness to a wide public including our clients and employees.”

Read more here

Bringing Mexico to West Cork

November 15, 2012 11:15 pm

Allianz Business to Arts Awards

Allianz Business to Arts Awards

The annual festival, which is held in the West Cork seaside village of Schull and brings together established and first-time filmmakers, has already attracted two film productions to the local area. Its organisers, meanwhile, have established a relationship with the Mexican Institute of Cinematography to bring a Mexican strand to the programme – an obvious fit for the sponsor.

When Barry & Fitzwilliam managing director Michael Barry was initially approached by the event’s organisers in 2009, his company had already been sponsoring the Cork Film Festival for two years. “I’ve always liked film and I thought we might get a share of noise for Corona by sponsoring the Cork event,” says Barry.

“We would believe that everyone who goes to the cinema is a potential Corona customer, or anyone who loves film is a potential Corona customer.”

“When the Schull people came to me, I was a bit reticent because I was doing one film festival already. But I said I’d give them some time. After about five minutes I decided I’d have to support these people, because they had such passion and enthusiasm for what they were doing.”

“There was also an element of supporting Schull, because West Cork has been good to us as a business over the last 29 years. It was a bit about putting something back into the community.”

This year, the festival faced an additional challenge when the local hotel, which had previously provided the main screening rooms, was put into NAMA.

The novel solution was to stream the films to venues all over the village, including pubs, restaurants, shops, the library and on sides of buildings.  As the organisers said: “We ask the question ‘What is a cinema?’ and look for answers in every corner of the village.”

According to Barry, the benefit for Corona of the sponsorship has been great exposure. And, the fact that this year’s winning film was, by coincidence, Mexican has been a bonus, he says.

“In terms of the exposure and the PR activity that they generate, the column inches are a wow, and that’s how we would measure it,” he says. “It’s a very good sponsorship from that point of view.”

Read more here

Who Will Sponsor My Project? Finding the fit.

October 18, 2012 3:36 pm

By Rowena Neville, Director of Marketing & PR, Business to Arts

Identifying sponsorship prospects can be a tricky business, but one that’s essential. You waste your own and others’ time sending out generic letters to all and sundry without some kind of science behind why you’re doing it. Face facts – it’s not likely to work.

Have a think about the project you’re seeking sponsorship for. Think about the likely audience and map who they are and in what way they will be engaged over the course of the project. These touchpoints are what your potential sponsors are going to be interested in, and will ultimately help you put an appropriate value on the partnership.

Then you can start asking questions and doing research in the business marketplace. Such as :

  • Who’s spending money right now?

This could be on marketing, expanding workforce, investing in new buildings etc.

  • What new activity is there in the market?

New companies, new products, new advertising campaign, who’s obviously building brand profile?

  • Who’s big in your local area?
    Companies employing people in the local area should be invested in growing capacity locally, and might be interested to see your organisation grow, to help build a stronger community.
  • Who innovates around the space where we want to be?

Using their workforce skills to help you grow could give them a creative boost.

  • Who is developing new technologies that interest you or could link to your artform?

Perhaps working together creatively could help showcase their products.

  • Who supports what we do in other places?

Look at your peers abroad and what international companies support them.

  • Who supports my artform?

A company synonymous with photography, might be interested in an innovative photography programme your organisation is running.

  • We have a big anniversary coming up…who else does?

Maybe you could have a shared party to celebrate the joint achievement.

  • Who already cares about what we do?

Look at your existing family of sponsors, customers, suppliers and who your audience are.

These questions (and others you might add) should help create a long-list of potential prospects, so you can move on to the next series of questions to help interrogate the list and distil it down to the strongest list of potential prospects.

Before you approach anyone to consider sponsoring your project, be sure that you know WHY they should. No matter your method of approaching an organisation, they should be clear that this approach is tailored to them and their business needs, that there’s a thought-through series of reasons why a partnership makes sense, and that they will clearly benefit. Looking at your long-list, try making some notes against these and other questions :

  • Whose customers are my customers?
  • Who wants what I’m selling?
  • What potential partnerships would be the most newsworthy?
  • Who shares the same values?
  • Which companies share a brand fit?
  • What unique benefits could I offer that would suit their specific business challenges?

This will identify the companies that are not a good fit, where a partnership doesn’t make sense, and will help you work up an approach that is tailored to each of the organisations on your shortlist. Showing that you understand their business and have familiarised yourself with where they are in the market and how they market themselves; and immediately referencing the areas of similarity and the great ways you can work together, will help you get that meeting to present your investment ideas.

A final note on seeking sponsorship is to give yourself plenty of time. We typically recommend at least 18 months in-advance. We are not the only ones. The DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center recommend developing your artistic programme at least 5 years in-advance and identify prospects based on this long term planning.

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