18 Mar

Virtual Event Sponsorship

Written by Chris Wilson, Head of Brand Partnerships at Ingenuity 

Will Virtual and Hybrid events continue to become a stable pillar of Partnership marketing?

State of Play

For some time, physical brand activation has been a staple pillar in many consumer engagement strategies. It allows consumers to interact, engage and experience brands and their products across live events, entertainment experiences and sporting events. Over the last 12 months this has reduced to almost nothing for obvious global pandemic related reasons.

As a result, we have seen a surge in new event formats, with sport, media and entertainment rights holders finding new ways to interact with consumers.

The next stage of the ‘New Normal’  will be a transitionary period. Events will have different audiences – both online and in person. New hybrid virtual events have seen music labels, festivals and sporting organisations develop ticketed experiences using technology and virtual conferencing as a means to engage and showcase their I.P or talent, whilst giving consumers the opportunity to watch their favourite stars, celebrities and acts. Over the course of the next 12 months, it will become increasingly obvious that large scale events will have both a group of ticket fans in attendance, as well as a wider broadcast audience through media and streaming. This in turn will provide more entry points and branded assets to sponsor.

Innovation in the space

Brands will be able to engage in new ways by branding certain events through digital media sponsorship. Allowing for a similar experience to more traditional sponsorship but en-masse using digital engagement, product placement, brand takeovers and branded content opportunities. With the rise of tech being used as a tool for broadcast, we see more brands having a gateway to promote themselves digitally.

Market need

Let’s be honest, even with a national lockdown strangling brand’s marketing plans, the industry hasn’t stopped talking to consumers. If anything, they’ve needed to do this more.

Brands need to promote their products and continue to connect with people. Experiential marketing and brand activation always provided that link, so with that being put on hold, brand marketers sought digital platforms to re-create the engagement they were missing.

The world seems to have become smaller as people spend more time at home and considerably more time online. Virtual event sponsorship provides that opportunity for a brand to own something, to target a closed user group audience and to speak to them.

By generating highly targeted marketing communications through this medium, you offer brands a new format to engage both physically and digitally.

Success stories

Just think about all the musicians or comediansthat haven’t been able to gig or perform. Talent organisations are trying to keep clients front and centre so prioritising endorsement campaigns with brands is a no brainer, but as is helping them perform on a stage, even if it is virtual for now (or until lockdown ends soon!).

There are a few live streaming services to watch, but the wonderful team over at Live-Now are one of our favourites. They are developing a new way for brands to enter the virtual sponsorship space whilst also offering the platform to promote their products/brand across virtual events.

Activity like this, as well as across live sport and the wider entertainment industry, provides a great gateway to access consumers, promote product and build brand affinity. Particularly as some stadiums and live performances gigs will move to a hybrid event strategy for the next 6-months. A great example of this is Boiler Room, who have been leveraging live DJ acts with a small audience whilst simultaneously live streaming to people across YouTube globally for years. This is a prime example of a hybrid event actually working!

Be sure to watch how wider music labels, talent businesses, new media and sporting rights holders follow suit in this new era of live entertainment viewership.

Why involve my brand?

It’s fairly simple, guaranteed access to an interested audience. It solves all the same challenges that brand activation provides, just more on a digital scale.

Data capture will provide the opportunity to build brand affinity and customer loyalty. Also providing access to new customers, every brand manager’s favourite thing. It will drive brand engagement and hopefully product sales to drive revenue and awareness.

  • Building brand affinity
  • Drive loyalty
  • New customers access
  • Engagement & engagement
  • Access to a new closed user group
  • Creative content and asset access
  • Develop something unique
  • Develop something to own

Benefits to rights holders getting brands onboard?

In short, sports and entertainment rights holders have struggled with revenue over the past year. There are some great opportunities out there and it’s now time to come out the other end stronger. Build partnerships that add value, support the marketing community and develop great ways to innovate across a year of real struggle and change.


Ingenuity London is a business that connects people. It doesn’t matter if you’re a brand, a rights holder, a publishing house, a tech platform or new media business. We can help you grow and navigate the industry. If you fancy a chat about your plans for partnerships this year, we’d love to speak to you.