Today’s word of sponsorships are being dubbed as partnerships. Whether it’s a sports sponsorship, entertainment sponsorship, cause sponsorships or otherwise, almost every rights holder says “our organizations looks to build partnerships, not sponsorships.” Yet almost every so called “partnership” comes down to a brand paying for assets to gain a way to talk to that property’s targeted fan base, that brand trying to tell a compelling story through product/service integrations and/or contextualized marketing, as well as rights holders being protective of providing benefits beyond contractual rights. That folks equals a sponsorship. In how rights holders are attempting to pitch partnerships, there is no differentiation from a sponsorship. Today’s so called “partnerships” really are sponsorships.
A partnership should not focused on an exchange of money for assets, but rather a mutually benefit relationship where two companies use their channels (owned, paid and earned) and resources to support one another around a specific objective or objectives. A partnership isn’t focused on one company solely paying another for marketing assets. That is a sponsorship. So as we view sponsorships versus partnerships, rights holders should use the term “sponsorship” unless driving rights fees is not the primary focus. Sponsorship equals pay to play. Partnership equals holistic integration between two companies.