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The Lower Saxony Gymnastics Association is one of Germany’s largest federal single-sports associations. Its subsidiary,2 the TSF GmbH, manages the nationwide annual artistic and acrobatics tour known as ‘TUI Feuerwerk der Turnkunst’. Over the past 25 years, this event has developed from a once-a-year show with an audience of 3,000 people in 1988 to a nationwide, annual, four-week tour playing in Germany’s biggest event halls with an overall audience of 170,000 people and a seat capacity utilisation of more than 97% in 2012. Basic choice for sponsorship the main objectives which should be achieved with the ‘TUI Feuerwerk der Turnkunst’ are to increase the awareness of gymnastics, to strengthen the collaboration between the different gymnastic associations in Germany and – last but not least – to gain (some) profits with the event. The most important objective is to give the audience an understanding of what gymnastics could be. The audience should be activated to participate in gymnastic groups on site, e.g., gymnastic groups for parents and children or elderly people. The whole family should be involved in this kind of sport. Therefore, the TSF GmbH pursues a special event pricing strategy: the ticket prices are significantly lower than the prices of all competitors with a comparable event quality. This derives directly from the association’s mission: offering a wide range of sports and leisure activities that promote a healthy lifestyle with a particular focus on families. Being ‘an association for the families’, the event is clearly positioned in the market as family-orientated entertainment with family-friendly ticket prices. While offering a high- quality show remains the event organiser’s fundamental objective, increased customer expectations require an enhanced overall event experience. Modern event halls provide easy access to transportation and accessible parking, comfortable seating, easily accessible catering booths, exclusive VIP lounges, etc. . . . and greatly contribute to the overall customer experience. Moreover modern event halls are expensive to rent. Maintaining stable ticket prices while maximising customer satisfaction is a challenging balance that would not be possible without any sponsorship partners. Analysis of the sponsorship market: The present sponsoring strategy includes a title rights partner, a presenter, two main sponsors, several media partners and a huge pool of local sponsors and cooperation partners. Touring Germany each year for four weeks gives the possibility and necessity to work together with many local sponsor partners. Thereby, the branch exclusivity for each local sponsor is limited to each playing location. In 2010 the organisers added ‘TUI’ as title rights partner on top of the sponsoring pyramid, which generated advantages and disadvantages. Teaming up with a title rights partner is a great opportunity for both the partner and the event organiser, as there is a strong value behind this special long-term relationship. But, when analysing the overall value from an organiser’s perspective, some change management issues need to be taken into consideration. For example, adding a title rights partner warrants adding a new top tier to your sponsorship pyramid. As a result, former top-tier sponsors will instantly be demoted to second-tier sponsors. Depending on the goals of the respective partner, a variety of different marketing activities are exercised throughout the course of the tour. Generally speaking, global partners often prefer sponsorships which give their brand high levels of brand visibility during the event campaign and the actual show while local partners place more emphasis on additional live marketing activities at the event venue which introduce a high-quality brand experience to the audience. An excellent example of a successful sponsorship which combines both brand visibility and brand experience is shown by the mobility partner and main sponsor, Volkswagen. As a repeated tour sponsor for many years, the Volkswagen logo is prominently displayed on all promotional tour marketing campaign activities. A Volkswagen vehicle fleet is also used for all transportation throughout the tour. Additionally, local Volkswagen dealers capitalise on shows in their local markets to display cars at the event venue and invite top-tier customers to a VIP event experience. This combination of sponsorship activating marketing activities allows Volkswagen to fully exploit its sponsorship investment on both national and local scales. Unprompted sponsorship recollection among show visitors regularly exceeds the 90% mark. Sponsor care and relations: The event tours every January with a new show and ensemble and continually returns to its established venues. Additionally, one to two new sites/towns are tested each year. As a sports association, there’s a necessity to support young athletes. Therefore, one to two local sports clubs will always be invited to perform the opening act in their respective home town. Meeting the stars and performing in front of up to 10,000 people are great motivating factors for young talents as well as for their coaches, who mostly serve their clubs as volunteers. Supporting local sports clubs also benefits local businesses, which pursue locally orientated sponsorship strategies to promote their products or causes. ­Long-term relationships, not only with customers, but also with local businesses, are established through these localised strategies. Throughout the years, many businesses have become not just partners but fans of the event. A collaborative management approach that is not just based on contractually agreed benefits but also on mutual trust and a thorough understanding of each other’s businesses and goals ensures long-term partnerships and, ultimately, maximises ROI s for the sponsors as well as long-term profit and planning reliability for the event organiser.

1. In 2010 the event manager added a title sponsor, adding a new tier to the existing sponsoring pyramid. What does this mean for the event and the then existing sponsor hierarchy? What are the main advantages and disadvantages/risks for the event and sponsor?

2. What happens if the event or sponsor is going to embark on an international strategy approach? What does this mean for the event sponsorship from both points of view?

3. How could the performance of the sponsorship be measured? Describe possibilities for evaluation from the point of view of the event manager and the sponsor.

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