Binet and Field and Sponsorship Marketing

long and short bw blog header

Back in August, and not for the first time, Byron Sharp chose to  undermine two voices which threaten his dominance in the field of marketing effectiveness –  Les Binet and Peter Field. Our post, highlighting the ways in which sponsorship aligns with Byron Sharp’s new model for marketing, was well received – so we’re doing something similar – showing how well many of sponsorship’s intrinsics align with Binet and Field’s analysis of marketing effectiveness. We’re offering this in the hope that it will be useful in the same way for sponsorship practitioners to integrate their influential thinking, along with a few quotes, into their presentation of sponsorship. So here we go, The Long and the Short of Sponsorship Marketing.

Focus on marketing effectiveness

‘No two individuals in the history of advertising have done as much to uncover its overall commercial impact as Les Binet & Peter Field.’

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A pretty awesome credit from Tom Roach on his blog post, The Greatest Hits of Binet and Field (which includes a PDF of Binet and Field’s best tables). And that’s saying a lot given they’re up against the omniscient Byron Sharp.

Les Binet is Head of Effectiveness at Adam and Eve DDB and runs DDB Matrix, the network’s econometrics agency. Peter Field has spent 15 years as a strategic planner in advertising, working at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, managing the planning departments and Bates and Grey; and for the kaufen sie die mesteroloninjektion last 15 years a consultant.  They have a host of secondary publications and extensions but their three greatest, greatest hits are : Marketing in an Era of Accountability, published in 2007; and The Long and the Short of It, published in 2013; and Effectiveness in Context, 2018. You can download a PDF of Marketing in an Era of Accountability here : The Long and Short of It retails on Amazon, as does Effectiveness in Context.

Binet and Field share Byron Sharp’s appetite for empirical thinking. The books both draw on 25 years of submissions to the UK IPA Effectiveness Awards for their data – a corpus at the time approaching nearly 1000 submissions. The objective behind their analysis was to uncover some of the factors which make B2C and B2B marketing profitable.

Implicit advocacy for sponsorship marketing

As was the case with How Brands Grow, we would argue that Binet and Field’s publications provide strong advocacy for sponsorship marketing. This blog will look quickly at the main outtakes from The Long and Short of It.

Although the publication is coming up to ten years old, it’s still current and indeed, only this August, Byron Sharp in his own dismissive way acknowledged its authority and influence at a LinkedIn B2B Next Summit. But despite the drama, Sharp, Binet and Field are aligned on many of their findings and many of these relate to sponsorship.

So let’s take a look at some of the conclusions Binet and Field have drawn about effective marketing practice.

Go broad or go home

Binet and Field share a common starting point with Sharp : go broad. Campaigns which address a broad general audience and target new customer acquisition perform far better than campaigns which focus on existing customers.

They observed that loyalty campaigns targeting existing users were dramatically less successful in business terms than campaigns aimed at recruiting new customers. Only 12% of IPA campaigns which were targeting increased loyalty, actually achieved major effects – and the effects tended to be short-term. Over the term of six months, they underperformed the volume effects of customer acquisition penetration campaigns by around a third. By contrast, 47% of the campaigns targeting new customer acquisition, achieved major penetration growth.

Targeting Long-term prospects tend to produce the broadest effects and the biggest paybacks, because this is ‘usually the biggest group and the group that knows least about the brand. Non-buyers may be relatively expensive to communicate with, but because their behaviour is often influenced by lack of saliency and/or ignorance of the brand, marketing can exert a powerful influence on them.’

A useful quote here: ‘It is clear that the benefits of broad reach considerably outweigh the benefits of tight targeting…. Undoubtedly this finding can be partly explained by the ‘herd effects’ resulting from broad-reach communications that not only impact target consumers but also those around them: the perceived familiarity and popularity of the brand amongst the many enhances its appeal to the one.’

Binet and Field use their findings in part to re-assert the value of TV as a marketing channel – but sponsorship marketing campaigns commanding a mainstream audience, supported by TV, fulfil the same criteria as an excellent vehicle for brands to drive effective campaigns. Despite accusations of wastage – which we ourselves have levelled at some mass consumer sponsorships – opening up the funnel from the top is the best approach (subject to the usual caveats).

The brand’s the thing

Most companies experience a tension between brand-building and sales. And in recent years, the pressure to prioritise sales has only increased. But Binet and Field are categoric in stating that a fixation with short-term sales performance will not deliver maximum long-term success.

According to their findings, ‘although long term effects always produce some short term effects, the reverse is not true. Long term effects are simply not simply an accumulation of short term effects.’

The language of their analysis conflates or at least intertwines the concept of brand campaign with long-term and sales activations with short-term, so at times the expression is a little confusing, but the plain English version would read : if you focus on brand, you’ll generate some sales uplift; but if you focus on sales, you won’t build the brand.

That’s not to suggest an exclusive focus on brand-building. Their recommended investment ratio is 60:40 in favour of brand – but acknowledging that the objective is to achieve an equal share of voice within brand and activation.

At Redmandarin, we’ve always been clear that sponsorship’s primary role is to drive brand. It leverages changes in the target audience relationship with the brand to achieve other commercial objectives, but it starts with brand. Binet and Field’s findings clearly align with this.

Media in Focus was published in 2019

In fact, according to their analysis, shown above, sponsorship is the outright best ‘channel’ to deliver ‘very large brand effects’ – changes to brand metrics but also to insulating the brand against price sensitivity.

How sales activations connect is a moot point. The same analysis show sponsorship as the least effective ‘channel’ to deliver ‘very large activation effects’. (Remember – in their lexicon, activation means sales.)  Binet and Field conclude the ideal campaign model should be ‘designed at the outset around a big idea that can elastically accommodate brand activation ideas’.

According to Binet and Field, brand response campaigns appear to offer the best of both worlds. They are ‘only slightly less effective at driving short-term direct sales than pure response campaigns, and only slightly less effective at driving longer-term share growth than pure brand campaigns.’

This model could well be describing sponsorship marketing even though we as an industry tend to focus our attention on quality of activation rather than the quality of the big idea.

Their analysis suggests that mass consumer sponsorships which can carry mainstream sales activations will be most efficient. The sporting world’s major events are obvious examples of platforms which allow brands to  transcend the direct sponsorship audience with activations.

But their description provides a useful lens for both rights-holders and brands : how large does this sponsorship loom in public consciousness (as a social object) and how feasible is it to leverage communications against a wider audience? How do we ensure our sponsorship campaign works effectively as a brand campaign?

Take the long term

Within the framework of Binet and Field’s analysis, a long term approach, combining brand-building with sales activation, is a prerequisite for success. And long term begins at three years – the typical sponsorship term, appropriately. They also reiterate that ‘the most important driver of long-term growth remains the level of share of voice’ and that this well-established correlation is stronger now than ever.

In the interviews we conducted to support our analysis of Olympic and Paralympic marketing (ref here, page bottom), it became abundantly clear that timeframe was an important factor. In an age when change is the norm and tenure of appointment is a rarity, the ability to craft a six or seven year (Olympic and Paralympic) campaign is extraordinary. It enables a consistency of message and investment which for most businesses is almost unthinkable.

But the Olympics are not alone. Many sponsor /rights-holder relationships outlive their brand campaigns, and it is sponsorship marketing which has the potential to deliver  consistent and iterated brand support over the timescale required to build brand equity and business value.

It’s all about the passion

According to Binet and Field, ‘Emotional campaigns … produce considerably more powerful long-term business effects than rational persuasion campaigns. In general, emotional metrics are more likely to predict long term success, while rational metrics are more likely to predict short term success.’

Once again, there’s very little to separate the findings of Byron Sharp from Binet and Field. But while Sharp merely talks of the importance of internal memory structures, Binet and Field apply Daniel Kahneman’s conclusions in Thinking Fast and Slow to go into the process of how emotional association overrides cognitive or rational decision making. Or how System One, fast thinking, dominates System Two, rational thought.

Emotion is of course the stock in trade of sponsorship marketing and sponsorship practitioners believe inherently in its importance.

But their findings beg a large question for sponsorship practice : how do sponsors best emotionally imprint their brand on the sponsorship audience? Martin Lindstrom, to give him credit, was onto this nearly two decades ago. This is a clear area of focus for Redmandarin, with our focus on the psychology of sponsorship.


Finally, Binet and Field conclude that salience is a key driver of brand preference.

Coming from the world of advertising – and working from campaign data – Binet and Field single out creativity and the impact of fame on effectiveness. ‘Campaigns that are top of mind and especially those that get talked about have a disproportionate effect on long-term brand success’ – and although its role in short-term success is less critical, it certainly helps. ‘High levels of salience were almost twice as likely to result in both top box short-term sales growth and long-term share growth.’

Creativity is always at a premium. Nobody would deny its importance but it’s easy to dismiss its real game-changing value. Binet and Field clearly call out the impact of their data. Campaigns which create brand fame outperform other campaigns by a wide margin. This is a commendable reframing of How Brands Grow’s emphasis on salience – landing the point that salience and fame can only come from creativity.

Fame campaigns – campaigns that emotionally inspire consumers to the degree that they share their enthusiasm with others  – are the most effective and efficient of all and have a powerful effect on profitability  because of the multiplier effects on volume and pricing. Consumers are especially prepared to pay more for a brand everyone is talking about. The most successful rounded approach is to develop highly creative fame campaigns supported by powerful activation to drive short term sales whilst the brand effect gains momentum.

There’s no intrinsic link to sponsorship marketing here. This is just our own call out that sponsorship campaigns require the same calibre of creative input as the best advertising campaigns. Nothing less.

Integrated marketing drives market share

An addendum here, added 8 November, to incorporate a point highlighted by Larry DeGaris, Exec Director of the Medill Spiegel Research Center at Northwestern University. Thanks Larry!

Larry’s point is that Binet and Field’s analysis of the value of integrated marketing communications campaigns and the conclusions are also positive for sponsorship.

Campaigns that mix advertising with other channels generate significantly faster growth for the same share of voice : table 47. And ‘although the data suggests there are diminishing returns as the number of advertising media increases – the same is not true of below the line channels, for which is appears to be a case of the more the merrier’ : table 48.

Another intrinsic of sponsorship marketing is of course that it requires an integrated approach, making use of the entire ecosystem of comms channels relating to the sponsorship to reach consumers. The only qualification of course, which we certainly wouldn’t debate, is that advertising support is critical. The amplifier effect is generated by advertising +.

Larry has just sent over another paper, by Kate Cox, which examines the relative effects of multi-channel campaigns integrated around a big idea and multi-channels campaigns that connect less explicitly, through shared values or a higher order ideal, for example. This clearly has the potential to qualify channel usage – we’ll either add to this post or add new to cover this. Thanks again Larry!

The value to sponsorship marketing

Binet and Field’s findings – and the nature of the analysis they’ve produced – employ the language of planning and from that point of view, of potentially greater value even than Byron Sharp. They speak directly to the priorities of planners – and sponsorship can clearly be shaped to address these priorities very directly.

The perfect sponsorship campaign, from Binet and Field’s perspective, is a three year campaign with mass consumer relevance. The sponsorship’s content transcends the subject matter itself. Salience is top priority for the brand response campaign, so the absolute focus needs to be best in class sponsorship scoping, and there needs to be a real, transcending big idea, a compelling proposition and superb creative. Easy!