On October 17th, my firm had the pleasure of hosting the first-known Municipal Forum on Sponsorship in Toronto where a broad cross section of municipalities were represented at the one-day Summit. I was really pleased to present many of the strategies we used to develop the City of Ottawa’s Sponsorship and Advertising Program (which we are now implementing on behalf of the City). Here are a few key findings from the one-day program.
- There is a wide range of adoption levels for sponsorships as a revenue generation model for municipalities. Some municipalities such as Whitby, ON have taken a very active approach towards naming rights, program sponsorships and other corporate partnering initiatives, while others are just “dabbling” in these areas or struggling with how to implement a full-scale program;
- Universally, municipalities are concerned with determining the “fair market value” of their sponsorship assets, managing Council and Senior Management expectations regarding projected revenues, coordinating municipal sponsorship efforts, how to be competitive in a business-oriented environment where municipalities do not have the same flexibility as other properties and building a culture of acceptance among municipal stakeholders, the public and the media for these commercial partnering arrangements.
The conclusion that I’ve come to after hosting the Municipal Forum on Sponsorship is that municipalities have to take a more strategic approach in the way they roll-out their sponsorship programs and need to do a better job at positioning corporate partnerships so that these collaborative arrangements are viewed as a positive experience for the municipality, the sponsor and most importantly, the public served. Rather than positioning corporate partnerships as a “necessary evil”, municipalities need to embrace their partners and consistently communicate the value that these partnerships bring to the broader municipality as well as the individual participants involved in the sponsored programs.
By constantly educating stakeholders and articulating the Win/Win/Win, the overall level of acceptance for corporate partnerships will grow which will in turn, help create more opportunities to move beyond the barriers that many municipalities face in delivering these programs. But this will only come when they take a realistic, professional and strategic approach instead of the scattered approach that is often seen in these environments.
As a final note, I want to “tip my hat” to those who attended the Municipal Forum as I think they are leaders in a challenging municipal environment and pioneers in the sponsorship industry in Canada.
For more posts on municipal sponsorship check out: