Does Business Benefit?

October 01, 1994


The benefits to business of arts sponsorship are not widely understood and practitioners need to obtain evidence of its value, according to joint research carried out by BP and Allegro Arts Marketing. Published at the ISBA conference, Sponsorship and Success, on September 22, their report, The Contribution of Arts Sponsorship to Corporate Reputation examines the impact of arts sponsorship on company image and explores the views of opinion formers, public affairs directors, financial analysts, MPs and journalists on business sponsorship. It identifies several ‘benefits by association’ – a company which sponsors the arts is seen as refined, astute, cultured, knowledgeable and aware – but stresses that arts sponsorship should be related back to other community relations activities, and communicated more widely.

Also included in the study are the detailed results of surveys of visitors to three BP-sponsored arts events at the National Portrait Gallery, the Tate Gallery and the BBC Cardiff Singer of the Year Competition. At the latter two events, there was heavy use of the BP logo; the survey found stronger recall of the sponsor and no significant resistance to the strong branding. Respondents report a positive effect on opinions towards the image and reputation of BP: between two thirds and three quarters at the specific events said the corporate sponsorship was very or fairly likely to have a positive effect on image and reputation. The findings confirm BP’s wider corporate image surveys and provide a benchmark to assess future events. Contact Bob Moffat, Allegro Arts Marketing, on 0181 944 5800


Companies will be placing greater payback demands on sponsorship projects as budgets get leaner, a survey by the Hollis Sponsorship Newsletter has found. Their findings stress that sponsorship projects must be seen to fit the company/brand image. The research also examined how sponsorships are established, most being undertaken as a result of direct approaches from sponsor seekers. Specialist consultancies are generally considered to give good value to their clients, although there should be more emphasis on evaluation. At present a majority of those surveyed spend around five per cent of budget on research. Contact Rosemary Sarginson, Hollis, on 01932 784781


Groundwork for the European Commission’s Green Paper on commercial communications within the internal market has started, with BMRB International commissioned to assess the barriers to effective marketing within the EU. Five different questionnaires are being circulated to companies, service providers (including sponsorship specialists, advertising and PR companies), media (including arts, cultural and sports bodies who are involved in sponsorship), self-regulatory bodies and consumer associations. Contact Lisa Johnson, Cerec, on 0171 378 8143


Tobacco sponsorship of the arts should be self-regulating, according a report by Cerec published at the beginning of October. Sponsored by Philip Morris Europe, the research is based on interviews with key figures in the tobacco industry and arts world and on an analysis of the international press. It finds that tobacco sponsorship accounts for 9.5% of arts sponsorship income of the organisations interviewed and that arts organisations are willing to accept ‘tobacco-tainted’ cash. It also shows that tobacco companies have become adept at avoiding legislative obstacles; for example, the French company, Seita, and Austria Tabakwerke have both housed product-linked arts exhibitions on their own premises. Contact Lisa Johnson, Cerec, on 0171 378 8143


This summer’s Edinburgh International Festival attracted over £1 million in sponsorship and donations – an increase of 20% on last year. Several established sponsors, including the Royal Bank of Scotland and Hertz, strengthened their sponsorship packages with customer promotions and additional advertising, while Scottish Power sponsored an education project in conjunction with Lothian Regional Council and the Mark Morris Dance Group. BSIS awards were won by Scottish Widows, first-time sponsors of the festival, and by the Bank of Scotland. Corporate membership of the festival also increased, with 17 businesses joining the scheme this year. Contact John Godfrey, Edinburgh International Festival, on 0131 226 4001


The second year of Sainsbury’s Pictures in Schools initiative began in September, with double the number of schools involved compared to last year. The aim of the scheme is to introduce children to art within their own environment and to improve the visual aspect of schools. 1,500 primary schools chosen by Sainsbury’s store managers throughout the UK receive four framed reproductions selected by gallery education directors. Each school also receives a teacher’s pack and a BBC video about the paintings. Contact Alastair Creamer, Sainsbury’s, on 0171 921 6000


The second National Power World Piano Competition took place on London’s South Bank between September 14-27, with 50 entrants from around the world taking part. Over £25,000 prize money was offered, as well as four scholarships and international concert engagements. The competition was set up in 1991 and is triennial. Contact Julie Cork, Crowcroft & Partners, on 0171 251 1191


Can corporate image “benefits by association” truly be obtained from arts sponsorship – or are the cynics right in their jibes about corporate entertaining under the guise of supporting a public good? The survey evidence from BP and elsewhere strongly points to real reputation benefits – provided the events are managed effectively. Indeed private survey results from BP show that strong branding is boosting its reputation as a sponsor above companies with a bigger programme. That BP is still serious about sponsorship after the recent painful down-sizing of its general CCI programme is a sign of conviction that there is indeed a business pay-back.

Corporate Citizenship Briefing, issue no: 18 – October, 1994