How sponsorship benefits all involved in a changing world *H&H Plus*

  • Horse & Hound speaks to equestrian businesses on both sides of the sponsorship experience to understand how agreements can benefit all parties in an age where social media has rewritten all the rules

    The ways sponsorship works have undergone a complete transformation in recent years — becoming something of huge benefit to all parties.

    Those on both sides of the agreement have told H&H how the concept is a viable and advantageous process for sponsors and sponsored alike — with competitors also reaping the rewards.

     Rachael Corry, marketing and events sponsorship executive at Wellington Riding, said she almost built her role herself, having realised there was a gap in the market for her ideas.

    Wellington signs sponsors up for year-long packages at £6,000 plus VAT each, which then guarantee certain benefits to the business.

    “The key for us is exclusivity,” Mrs Corry told H&H. “We have one feed company, one saddler, one horsebox company, so the opportunities are just for them.”

    Sponsors enjoy “a whole host of things”, including advertising space in the main arena, which is used every day, class sponsorship at the centre’s Premier League dressage show — and the same at its first CSI showjumping event this May — and branded fences at its international horse trials.

    They also have support on social media and in printed programmes, and free tradestands at every event, with the exclusivity clause meaning that there will be no direct competition.

    “The whole idea of sponsorship as we do it is to be more interactive,” Mrs Corry said, adding that she has a close relationship with all Wellington’s partners. “We tap into them and they tap into us.

    “But it’s also about investing back into competition; our sponsorship isn’t about making a profit. Our Premier League show has a £2,000 first prize thanks to its sponsor Nirvana Spa; that goes to the competitor instead of to us.”

    Mrs Corry added that while there can be potential conflicts if an affiliated body has secured sponsorship for a class or series, by working “diplomatically” and making sure all bodies are aware of the situation, helped by the relationship with partners, clashes are kept to a minimum.

    “We’re really excited about this programme,” she added. “It’s been running for three to four years now and it’s growing; we’ve got waiting lists.”

    On the other side of the coin, supplement company NAF is a major sponsor, supporting events and series including British Showjumping (BS) teams, the British Dressage winter championships and 20 years with British Riding Clubs (BRC).

    NAF sponsorship and events manager Eloise Chugg-Martin agreed that the days of “handing over cash and a banner being put up” are gone.

    She told H&H that NAF and BRC, for example, have a very close relationship, which means improved championships, and content in the BRC magazine for members, as well as opportunities for the company.

    “At championships, it’s often hard to tell who’s BRC and who’s NAF; we’re really that close,” she said. “We always have a stand there, so can speak to a broad range of people, and as a sponsor, it’s an opportunity to gauge the market.

    “It’s such a lovely atmosphere there; it’s some people’s Olympics and everyone cheers everyone. To be part of that is lovely.

    “The magazine and BRC email content also allow us to speak to those who maybe don’t ride competitively.”

    NAF also sponsors the senior BS Nations Cup team, and has recently extended this to the youth teams, which means connecting with people at all stages of their careers, as well as benefiting the sport and national teams.

    Ms Chugg-Martin added that social media has been “probably the biggest game-changer” in sponsorship, owing to the extended reach deals give all parties involved and the emergence of hashtags such as #TeamNAF for the BS teams.

    BRC manager Rachael Hollely-Thompson told H&H the NAF deal had been an “incredibly long partnership”, which not only allows bigger, better championships and better rates for competitors, it means access to NAF’s expertise.

    “They’re always there to give good advice to members, they write good, genuine content for our magazine; not product-driven but about horses and horse welfare,” she said.

    “It’s great to have the support and we feel the relationship benefits the whole membership.”

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