Asia is a strong region for Manulife, covering 14 markets across China, Japan and South East Asia. A decentralised structure means that, although there is a regional CMO, market CMOs manage their own budgets and there is no central co-ordination of sponsorship spend.
This structure also further increases the difficulty of creating a collective strategy for the region. This is the challenge that Manulife had been facing for a number of years when the regional head of sponsorship invited us to ‘make the case’ for sponsorship.
The investment case – if we can call it that without a strategy, a plan or a specific property in place – is a common need from brands which are wrestling with the concept of sponsorship. Our approach is – always – to dive into the business, to understand it from the inside out. Our client, the regional head of sponsorship, was marvellous in providing a wide range of internal data – brand tracking and individual market brand metrics, sales performance and share of market, revenues by business lines, audience data, the regional strategic plan and of course contracts and evaluations where available of the existing sponsorship portfolio.
The resulting document set out in detail the potential contribution of sponsorship to key issues facing the brand and business in the region. It received unanimous support from the region’s senior leadership team and ultimately fed into the global marketing review to support the regional case for sponsorship.