BDS Sponsorship, Sponsorship Information

An idea with Wheels

The BDS created Land Rover Experience at Bluewater has won the Global International Council of Shopping Centres Award for Centre Productivity.

Bluewater attribute a 6% increase in footfall to the Land Rover Experience.

The link up between Land Rover and Bluewater is one of the pioneering deals, which illustrates how a venue can own sponsorship assets (in this case, the gravel cliffs) which are not immediately obvious.

An idea with Wheels

Shopping centres are coping with a flat economy, consumers jaded by the same old roster of tenants, and the need to drive up income and asset value to meet investors’ expectations. Meanwhile, brands are finding it hard to communicate with target consumers: we are no longer watching terrestrial TV en masse, and marketing via e-mail, internet or mobile phones is simply too easy to click off.

But put the two problems together, and you have a solution called sponsorship. The centres can offer brands a desirable opportunity to meet their audience, in return for which the brands pay to utilise centres’ underused aisles, wall space or external areas.

“There are many more ways of increasing revenue from the four walls than just the rental,” says Christopher Wicker, president of the Retail Consulting Group. “Sponsorship could become a substantial part of operational revenue – it’s not peanuts”

One new idea is for an operator running several centres to sign exclusivity deals with brands: for instance, for Kodak photo booths or Coca-Cola drinks dispensers. In the US, the 240-centre Simon Group has pioneered this approach. In the UK, Hammerson has recently struck an affiliation deal with American Express.

Attractions for shoppers

But shopping centres are beginning to examine permanent brand sponsorships aimed at delivering extra revenue, new services or attractions for shoppers, and a branding alliance that benefits both sides.

Brands can create, design and finance product-related “experiences”, signing medium-length 3-6 year
licensing deals, instead of conventional leases. “There are no risks – the sponsor pays, and you charge the consumer,” says Richard Busby, Chief Executive of BDS Sponsorship.

Busby’s consultancy approaches brands on behalf of property owners to develop sponsorship deals.

Centre owners are aware of the danger of over commercialisation.

Peter Allwood, Head of Asset Management at Bluewater warns against “cheap and tacky marketing grabs”. But overall, he feels that the advantages are too obvious to ignore. “There are ways to enhance the brand, improve the customer experience and make more money.”