Nuell Entertainment’s Gary Nuell, Danny Wimmer Presents’ Clay Busch, DBI Beverage Inc.’s Pete Leesha, Spectra Food Services & Hospitality’s Nick Nicora, Verifone’s Ted Tekippe, and Shazam’s Eric Zimostrad shared their knowledge about what goes into a successful sponsorship for both an event and brand. 


Got Sponsorship?

For starters, Busch said sponsorship is much more than “throwing a logo on an ad-mat.”

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When it comes to engaging with consumers, Busch explained that Danny Wimmer Presents pays close attention to driving retail for its brand partnerships.

“We’re heavy into on-site activity,” Busch said. “Content is key for us. We pride ourselves on having a lead program where the brand can have two-three months of solid marketing. They can use our likeness, they can use our brand, they can use our talent.” He added, “We build sports bars at our Aftershock festival. Sports and rock music go hand in hand. … We highlight [the bars] as a part of the festival experience. … I’ll talk about Slipknot, I’ll talk about Faith No More playing the show. I’ll also talk about the Coors Light sports bar and all the games we’ll be showcasing that weekend. … We’re recapping videos, we’re highlighting our sponsorships, press releases, media – everything we’re doing to show what the sponsorships did.

"A good example is a partnership at WWE where I had Corey Taylor from Slipknot attend a wrestling match right next to the Coors Light sports bar. He slapped a WWE wrestler. That went viral.”

Nuell noted that what was once considered “selling out” by artists is now a springboard to launch careers. As an example he brought up X Ambassadors, which wrote the song “Renegade” specifically for a Jeep commercial. And while The Allman Brothers Band was already an established act, Nuell found there was a direct correlation between people watching and Shazam-ing Geico’s commercial featuring “Midnight Rider” and purchasing the song.

Sponsorships are really all about relationships. Leesha said that when DBI Beverage Inc. is considering a new sponsorship he asks, “Are we working with good partners or do they just wanna take our money and walk away? Because to me, partnerships are really important. A lot of time I’d much rather do a multi-year deal than just a one-year deal. Because we might have a great event and then we might have a softer event.”

Busch agreed and said, “We have a theme in our company where we don’t chase checks. We don’t even use the word sponsorship. We use partnership. With Steven and Pete [at DBI Beverage Inc.], when we originally went to them it wasn’t necessarily about how much money can you write us but what can we do for each other? ‘This is how many people attend our event. What are you comfortable with?’ ‘I need marketing support, I need POS in your liquor stores.’ Don’t chase the check.”

Nuell pointed out that these relationships are based on trust and that it’s important your partner knows you’re looking out for their interests.

He added, “You’re trying to seek ROI for them, not just yourself.”

The panel also discussed generating revenue outside the most common categories sponsoring music, which includes non-alcoholic beverages, spirits, beer, retail, food, telecom, bank, auto and hotel. Nicora suggested working with an anti-DUI program to add an image to cups saying “Don’t drink and drive” or partnering with a rental car agency to have special parking spots at a festival for designated drivers.

Following up after an event is key to a strong partnership. Leesha noted that DBI Beverage Inc. meets with BottleRock Napa Valley throughout the year.

“Right after the event we start meeting for next year,” Leesha said. “How are we going to make next year better? It’s OK to pick up the phone and talk to each other. If we let you down, we need to know that. When we get involved we want to do world class stuff. That’s very important to both of us so the event is good for the consumers. We don’t own the event, but doggone it, we feel like we’re owners too.”