THOUGHT LEADERS : Effective Sponsor Partnerships

Sponsorships and partnerships have the potential to add considerable value to business. The nature and benefits of partnership need not necessarily be purely financial, though many sponsorship and charitable relationships can indeed have an impact on the bottom line.
The message HSBC communicates through its sponsorships and other partnerships is that it shares the same interests and concerns as its clients, and by extension the wider community.
There are number of important factors to consider when forming sponsorship partnership. These include the function of the organisation or event, its basic values and philosophy and the potential fit with one’s own company, services and products, clientele, existing portfolio of relationships and opportunities for employee involvement.
HSBC’s sponsorships are chosen and targeted on the basis of these criteria, with the potential to deepen customer relationships and motivate and inspire employees being among the key considerations.
HSBC New Zealand’s sponsorship of NZTE and KEA’s World Class New Zealand Awards, which the bank is supporting for the third time this year, is good example of relationship that satisfies the above criteria. The bank has an affinity with KEA’s international outlook and interest in creating growth for New Zealand as well as its commitment to supporting excellence.
Sponsorship is an effective tactical marketing tool which can be used to target specific customer segments. HSBC’s golf sponsorships are good example of sponsorship as tactical marketing tool.
Golf is well-established sport in the developed markets in which HSBC has presence and is regarded as prestige sport in the emerging markets which are the focus of the bank’s global strategy. It is popular with clients and potential clients and sponsoring major tournaments ensures that HSBC is top of mind with its target market and provides prime opportunity to expose people to the brand and educate them about the company’s products and services.
HSBC’s investment in developing company-wide sustainability (or corporate social responsibility) programme demonstrates the value to be derived from aligning brand with an issue of considerable emotional, social and cultural weight.
CSR takes the idea of good corporate governance beyond simple profitability and maximising shareholder returns to encompass duty of care to employees and the community at large.
HSBC Group regards environmental sustainability as pressing issue and has signalled its commitment to change by instituting the HSBC Climate Partnership (HCP), five-year programme partnering four high profile international environmental charities including Earthwatch, WWF, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the Climate Group. HCP represents the largest employee engagement programme by any organisation on climate change to date and we are committed to doing our part here in New Zealand.
HSBC New Zealand has partnerships with range of events and organisations including cultural, environmental and educational initiatives such as the Lantern Festivals run by Asia:NZ, Motuihe Island Trust and the Gifted Kids Programme. In addition to the sponsor partnerships I have already mentioned, HSBC Round the Bays and the New Zealand String Quartet Trust round out broad portfolio.
The HSBC Group’s approach to partnerships consists of more than simply writing cheque. It seeks to assist partners in genuinely adding and maximising the value of their own initiative, event or organisation through active involvement.
For example, HSBC New Zealand has run competitions for children at the Lantern Festival, provides support and supervision of children of Gifted Kids Programme school trips and has provided media relations, marketing and strategic advice to that organisation. Opportunities to get staff involved at all levels and through volunteer leave in particular is an ongoing goal for HSBC.
Sponsorship plays different role to advertising in the communications mix. It demonstrates commitment to values and brand positioning linked closely to the property. Unlike advertising, where the relationship between the brand and its target audience is passive, sponsorship creates an interactive environment, where consumers experience the HSBC brand. When the activity supported is compatible with their lifestyle, these shared values build affinity and loyalty. Consumers will try to link the sponsorship and the HSBC brand, so the sponsorship property must reflect what the brand is about.
In New Zealand and around the globe HSBC tends to choose partners that accord broadly with its own professional ethos of fairness, diversity, integrity and achievement. Communication with the partner is vital to ensure ongoing evolution and development of the partnership is attained, and value continues to be added for both parties. We have been fortunate in New Zealand to secure partners who demonstrate real understanding of what makes sponsor partnership work.

Norman Wilson is the chief executive officer of HSBC New Zealand.

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