A bumper year predicted for sponsorship as fan events make a comeback

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Neil Jankelowitz, CEO, Mscsports

Investment into sport and brand sponsorships is set to make a big comeback in 2022, as brands realise the potential of sponsorships and their capability to outperform other tools in the marketing mix, particularly when it comes to keeping audiences engaged and connected at scale.

This is according to Neil Jankelowitz, CEO of Mscsports, a performance-driven sponsorship agency and winner of Agency of the Year, Event/Competition Sponsor of the Year, and Campaign of the Year for its Castle Lager #InOurBlood campaign at the recent 2021 Hollard Sport Industry Awards.

“The past two years have seen all areas of our lives disrupted, and whether we like it or not, the pandemic will continue to impact everyone for the foreseeable future,” Jankelowitz says. “However, we cannot take everything we have learnt as an agency for granted, and how we have adapted to survive, and in many cases thrive over this time.”

Jankelowitz outlines the sponsorship trends he believes that are likely in 2022:

Credit: Unsplash

Hybrid event experiences

For the past two years brands have had to think digital-first, especially because physical events and activations were (and continue to be at risk of being) cancelled overnight. Digital fan experiences exploded in popularity with brands finding innovative ways to ensure they continued to reach consumers via digital channels.

“The focus was always on the stadium experience in the sports sponsorship world, but the pandemic compelled a shift towards the digital world where fans unite around an event or a cause,” he explains. “The digital social world has the added benefit of being able to provide more specific feedback so that brands have more measurable data to measure their return on their investment.”

Not only are consumers used to enhanced digital experiences, but they also now expect engaging digital content to be part of the overall fan experience – and it could be anything from video or augmented reality (AR) enhanced experiences to exclusive or behind the scenes content.

With a gradual return of fans to stadiums and event venues, brands must ensure they provide an engaging, hybrid fan experience that includes elements of the physical and virtual worlds.

World Cup opportunities provide longevity

Opportunities will abound for brands in the sports sponsorship arena over the next few years, with the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, and the Cricket World Cup, Rugby World Cup and Netball World Cup, all in 2023.

However, brands must ensure year-round fan engagement through these sponsorships to realise a greater return on investment. Fans are no longer satisfied with watching their favourite teams and sports stars competing in-season only. They want to know what they’re doing in the off-season too.

“At a time when everyone is craving connection, fans want to remain connected to their favourites all year round – which presents a wonderful opportunity for brands to produce engaging content with leading personalities both off- and on-season, creating longevity for messaging and achieving sustained impact too,” Jankelowitz adds.

Deliver measurable outcomes not tactical outputs

A tactical plan will only get an agency so far with its clients. From a strategic perspective, brands must insist on measurable agency outcomes, not just agency outputs. Any agency can deliver a spectacular event with all the bells and whistles, but if it doesn’t meet or exceed the client’s business objectives, millions will be wasted.

“Our agency has developed an in-house proprietary measurement tool called the Sponsorship Efficiency Index (SEI) that reports so specifically on the reach and effectiveness of our campaigns that we can show our clients their exact return for every rand spent,” he says.

“The SEI assesses various metrics to deliver an impact score for each campaign, giving our clients including the likes of Discovery, Castle Lager, Engen, Prudential and many others, a scientific measurement of the results achieved by each campaign.

“I believe the industry is finally on the road to recovery. While I remain cautiously optimistic about what lies ahead, I am bullish when it comes to the value we provide and measurable returns we deliver to brands who trust us to manage their sponsorships,” he concludes.

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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.

Leading by Example – Carrie Delaney achieves highest honours in ESA Diploma

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Mscsports Head of Client Services, Carrie Delaney, has been announced as South Africa’s top student and second overall across 14 countries that undertook the European Sponsorship Association (ESA) Diploma in 2021.

Mscsports Head of Client Services, Carrie Delaney

The ESA Diploma is an international online qualification for practitioners of all levels wising to learn more about the commercial world of sponsorship and sports marketing – the only formal qualification of its kind within the industry. 

Not only did Carrie complete the course whilst simultaneously juggling work, a demanding schedule and motherhood, but she excelled – graduating with distinction, scoring the highest marks ever achieved by a South African student to date which is no small feat!

Carrie joined Mscsports as Account Director in 2019, but with her exceptional work ethic, interpersonal and communication skills and passion for the business, she was promoted to Head of Client Services in 2021.

Congratulations Carrie and the entire class of 2021!


ESA is a not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to inspire, unite and grow a welcoming and diverse sponsorship industry, achieving this through education, guidance, representation, the recognition of excellence and the sharing of best practice and performance.

Mscsports Shortlisted for 2021 Hollard Sport Industry Awards

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Mscsports has been shortlisted in 7 categories in the 2021 Hollard Sports Industry Awards – including Agency of the Year.

There is no doubt that the last two years have been challenging for everyone – but especially for those working in the sports industry that relies on millions of fans supporting events every week. Despite tough conditions, brands and rights holders alike have pivoted, transformed and swiftly converted events, campaigns and activations that traditionally were held in-person, into online fan experiences to ensure that the proverbial ‘show’ still goes on.


Castle Lager remained true to their long-standing commitment to South African sport as the headline sponsor of the British & Irish Lions Series. At a time when everything was keeping us apart, Castle Lager leveraged their sponsorship of the British and Irish Lions Series to live their values of promoting friendship, coming together and uniting communities. We were honoured to work with Castle Lager and their agencies to bring the #InOurBlood campaign to life. The campaign has been shortlisted for:

  • Brand/Sponsor of the Year
  • Campaign of the Year
  • Fan Engagement Award
  • Communications Award
  • Event/Competition of the Year
  • Social & Environmental Impact Award


In the knowledge that during the pandemic, more than ever, the youth of South Africa needed motivation to succeed and reason to believe, Engen pivoted its knockout tournament into an online event for the first time in its 18 year history, allowing players and coaches to benefit and upskill even when they weren’t able to play in person. Furthermore, in a move toward gender equality, Engen launched the ladies tournament with equal prize money ensuring no one gets left behind. Engen cares!

The campaign has been shortlisted for the Social & Environmental Impact Award.

We look forward to the award ceremony on the 25th of November and celebrating the opportunities, creativity and impact that has been produced despite the Covid-19 pandemic (and in some instances, because of it).

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