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Play big or go home!

March 24, 2021

Following last week’s announcement of Manchester United’s new shirt partner, SQN CEO Claire Ritchie-Tomkins offered her thoughts on the big money investment:

A recent whitepaper I read by B2B Institute on LinkedIn about B2B trends for the next decade concluded by saying that brands should ‘play big or go home’ and that is exactly what TeamViewer has done with its £55m a year shirt sponsorship of Manchester United.

Like many others, when the deal came to light via Twitter last Thursday, the team here at SQN were surprised too that having worked in the tech space for over 30 years, a relatively unknown B2B tech brand would have made such a big investment. But on the back of work that we too have been doing in the sponsorship space in the past year, we can understand perhaps why they have.

With the advent of digital and the ease with which digital marketing spend can be tracked, attributed and measured, marketing has been very focussed on lead generation. The number of times I have been to speak to a brand about sponsorship and all they wanted to know was the impact sponsorship would have on lead or demand generation and whether it was comparable. In a digital world it was easy to know that if X was invested in Y then the guaranteed outcome would be Z.

Sales activation, as the above is known, generates great returns for the brand in the short term but brand building is what creates long term value and generates demand in both the short and long term. As Peter Weinberg and Jon Lombardo of B2B Institute succinctly put it, “Sales activation doesn’t create demand, it just helps businesses capture the demand that is already there. Brand building compounds over time and influences future sales from future buyers.”

With this in mind then, investing heavily in the brand, associating the brand with values you aspire to, creating a credible and valuable story of the impact the brand is having on the property, and showcasing the benefits of that solution to other customers on a global stage all contribute to brand equity. The sales uplift of brand over time way outperforms short term ROAS based sales activations.

But it doesn’t stop there. Sponsorship creates an emotional connection with your brand whereas advertising, even if it is digital, just shouts at your customers! In addition to the value created for the brand in such a partnership, there are many other paths of value that will be created for TeamViewer from this association.

Revenues will be generated directly from Manchester United themselves, from partners, and from the ecosystem. The product showcasing opportunities of how Manchester United are using and benefitting from the solutions are huge. How many potential customers will think that if it’s good enough for Manchester United then it’s good enough for me? Taking customers to Old Trafford is a far more appealing proposition for a prospect than taking them to see an installed base reference customer such as a bank.

When I managed Nortel’s partnership with Williams in F1, we decided to run a future product focus group at the Williams Conference Centre. When we would have previously been trying to drag people along to an equivalent event in a hotel, suddenly the lure of a Formula One team meant that we were oversubscribed and had a waitlist of people wanting to share their opinions with us ..and of course see some F1 cars in the Williams museum!

In addition to brand elevation and revenue generation, another key benefit that TeamViewer will enjoy as a result of the partnership with Manchester United is a platform on which to build relationships. Be that with customers, prospects, channels, the media, analysts, employees or future hires. Relationships are critical to business success and to helping TeamViewer reach its revenue goal of €1bn by 2023.

The late 90’s saw tech take over from tobacco as the big spenders in F1 with Nortel, Compaq, HP, Sun Microsystems, SAP all taking centre stage. With the announcement of Cognizant as title partner of the Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team in February and the likes of NetApp, SentinelOne, Cisco, Microfocus all making investments in motorsport sponsorships more recently, it clearly suggests that sponsorship has a value and a place to play at the table.

We don’t need to be convinced of that of course. SQN was set up almost 20 years ago with the vision to help tech brands leverage sport and entertainment, and we have not rested on our laurels. The sponsorship industry has changed massively in that period of time and as a result, we too have evolved.

Measuring the return on sponsorship for any brand but particularly a tech brand is never easy but by understanding the industry and what’s important to the C-level, we are able to demonstrate the business impact of sponsorship and justify the investment. The good news is that investment doesn’t have to be reserved for the big household names, we have proven success in helping challenger brands identify partnership opportunities that enable them to compete with far bigger competitors and punch way above their weight.

In the case of TeamViewer they’re not going home, but they have gone big, which with Manchester United is expensive but it doesn’t always have to be if you know where to look and how to make it work for you.

If you are a challenger brand in the tech space and want to do things differently, we are here to help and show you how you can use sponsorship to generate significant returns for your business. If you want to learn more then we’d love to speak to you, so please get in contact with us today.


We are excited to announce that Sine Qua Non (SQN) has joined rEvolution, bringing SQN’s technology and communications prowess to rEvolution, the global, integrated sports marketing agency. Together, we will continue to grow as one team to deliver best-in-class integrated marketing services for our clients.

We put people first, challenge personal effectiveness, and act as change agents on a unified team. We share these values now and moving forward. In this next chapter we will scale our skillsets and expertise together to make an increasingly significant impact in the industry.

Please visit http://www.revolutionworld.com to learn more about rEvolution’s capabilities and culture.

This is an exciting time for everyone on our collective team, and we look forward to continuing our work with you.

John Rowady
CEO & Founder, rEvolution

Claire Ritchie
CEO & Founder, SQN

Chris Ritchie
Director & COO, SQN