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Shevaun McCreedy

Mscsports is the Hollard Sport Industry Awards Agency of The Year for 2021

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Mscsports, the full service sports and entertainment agency, has been announced as the Hollard Sport Industry Awards Agency of the year for 2021.

The award comes along with honours in two other categories – namely Campaign of the Year and Event/Competition Sponsor of the Year for their work on the Castle Lager’s #InOurBlood campaign, bringing to life the incoming British & Irish Lions tour earlier in the year.

Whilst many sponsors opted not to activate during the tournament in light of spectator restrictions and in-stadia attendance bans, Castle Lager stepped up and proved that South Africans’ love and passion for rugby, the Springboks and our country is truly #InOurBlood. The campaign delivered a unique experience for fans around the country and the world, connecting them virtually and uniting them through friendship and shared passions.

“These awards are so significant for Castle Lager. The brand purpose has always been about bringing South Africa together, and to do it using something that really unites us – like our blood – despite so many other issues that could divide us, is truly incredible” says Sphe Vundla, Brand Director: SAB Corporate at Anheuser-Busch InBev.

“Possibly the greatest victory is the 24% increase in blood donations received by the SANBS as a result of the campaign however – especially during a time when it was most needed.”

The Hollard Sport Industry Awards recognises the best work in the business of sport and, after two challenging years for the sports industry, it is incredibly promising to learn of the 66% increase in award submissions from last year – a hopeful sign of the return to some semblance of normality for sport in South Africa.

“The last 2 years have been incredibly difficult for our industry and our country. But despite all of the challenges thrown at us, sport has continued to provide hope and relief to South Africans and we’re proud to have been able to play a part in bringing that to life at a time when we all needed it the most” says Grant McEwan, Head of Strategy at Mscsports.

“The far-reaching impact of sport is why we’re so passionate about what we do, and we’re grateful to do it alongside such committed, supportive and resilient clients. The work and campaigns from all corners of our industry celebrated at the Hollard Sports Industry Awards was inspiring to see. To receive formal acknowledgement and recognition for our part played over the last year is simply the cherry on top.”

“The athletes, brands and rights holders with whom we’re privileged to work have ultimately provided us with the platform on which to create, execute and leverage their sponsorships – their unwavering trust and commitment has been paramount to our combined success” continues Mscsports Managing Director, Neil Jankelowitz.

A full list of the awards and winners can be viewed here.

Transactional vs Transformational – The Sponsorship Paradigm Shift in Post-Covid Economy

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There is no denying that the Covid-19 pandemic has irrevocably changed the proverbial playing field for several industries – and the sports and entertainment industry is no exception. With marketing budgets having been significantly reduced in most instances, the absence of live events and severe hospitality and tourism restrictions has meant fewer sponsorship opportunities to consider and even fewer resources with which to capitalise on them. But who is worse off in this scenario – the rights holder or the potential sponsors?


Debating that question furiously in-house has led us to the conclusion that in fact, that mentality is exactly the wrong approach to sponsorship agreements in the post-COVID economy. The relationship between rights holders and sponsors will have to become less transactional and more transformational to ensure adequate return and mutual benefit for both parties.


Transactional vs Transformational Relationships


Transactional relationships are by nature optimized around getting both parties the most they possibly can in exchange for as little as possible. It often resulted in a series of negotiation rounds until both parties felt they had secured maximum benefit for themselves, utilising the platform as the mechanism to achieve the desired return and commercial value. The sponsorship agreement became the checklist against which accountability was held for rights and objectives to be achieved and the basis upon which renewal was considered. Whilst effective from a corporate governance perspective, it lacked flexibility and room for adaptation which, as COVID-19 has shown us, has become paramount.


In the post-COVID economy, the new etiquette for successful sponsorships will be about creating partnerships and working collaboratively for the best interest of the sponsorship ‘trilogy’ – the rights holder, the sponsor, and the entity itself. When like-minded brands collaborate – knowing what they want, understanding what the other hopes to achieve, and working in partnership to achieve it – the IMPACT of the sponsorship will be that much greater. This relationship-based paradigm shift takes a more transformational approach with both parties acknowledging the value they bring to the partnership and that one is not considered “lesser” than the other.

This approach is likely to entail an overhaul of the traditional sponsorship model and instead, see brands developing sponsorship Requests For Proposal outlying their objectives and desired outcomes. It would become the responsibility of the rights holder to tailor the sponsorship offering accordingly to match and meet the sponsor requirements most effectively. Gone are the days of accepting (and paying for) rights which don’t benefit the brand or campaign objectives simply because they were pre-packaged with the rights which were desirable.

Relationship-based Sponsorships are Based on Delivery Mutual Outcomes, not Outputs.

Transformational-based sponsorship also enables both rights holder and sponsor to capitalise on societal changes which have already taken place. In an era where influence and authenticity have become important elements of the decision-making process, brands are more highly valued by their consumers and followers. This holds great appeal for the right sponsor and rights holder as both brands provide each other with access to relevant, desirable target audiences and more impactful outcomes in partnership. It also cements the importance of agencies to assist with rights holder and sponsor management to enable both parties to remain accountable to their responsibilities and ensure maximum return on desired outcomes.

So, to answer our initial question of who is worse off in the post-COVID economy…
Neither! Provided all parties remain committed to relevance, longevity, and the achievement of mutual outcomes.

With the proverbial playing field forever changed and major shifts in marketing, consumerism, and sponsorship taking centre stage, sponsors and rights holders have the opportunity to optimise their approach to sponsorship in its entirety for the benefit of not only one another but the industry as a whole.

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