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7in7 Interview Series: The New Frontier of Sponsorship Activation

Despite the slow return of live events, sponsor interest and renewed enthusiasm for in-person activations and engagements are inevitable. As a result of COVID-19, events, properties and sponsors will come together in new ways to deliver meaningful and customized activations. From concept to execution, sponsorship teams will be challenged to reimagine how audiences and sponsors engage, what assets can be offered, and how sponsor objectives can be met uniquely and successfully. Creativity and innovation will be critical to your success when live events return.

Scott McNearney, the Director of Global Sponsorship at South by Southwest (SXSW), has joined us to illuminate how properties and events can deliver innovative and successful activations moving forward. Scott is a leader in developing unique and state-of-the-art activations. Scott has mastered how to bridge the gap between brands and event properties. In a timely and informative 7in7 interview with SMS Founder, Paula Beadle, Scott shared seven key insights on how to make authentic connections.

  1. Ask Smart Questions

The SXSW team dives deep into their sponsor’s objectives to better understand how they can develop and execute an engagement. The team asks probing questions to help identify the best opportunities to promote the brand’s product, how they can connect them to the SXSW audience, and what activation opportunities make the most sense for immediate and long-term impact.

  1. Take a Collaborative Approach

While ideation is a vital part of the process, executing successful activations is only possible if you collaborate with your entire team to understand what is feasible. Make space for every voice.

  1. Redefine What Success Looks Like

Sometimes events and properties make the mistake of measuring the success of an activation by the grandeur of the original idea. However, Scott reiterates that for SXSW, some of the most successful activations aren’t novel but integrate into the existing fabric of the event.

  1. Know Where Audience Meets Activation

For SXSW, knowing its audience is critical. Taking the time to understand how the audience wants to engage, what is important to them, what has or hasn’t worked for them, their needs, or how their experience can be enhanced is a core part of developing activations.

  1. Keep the Lines of Communication Open

Whether with sponsors or internal departments, consistent and open dialogue is essential to the success of an engagement. Consistent communication helps set clear goals and expectations from start to finish.

  1. Be Driven by Experience

The experiential festival encounter is everything! Scott shares a best-in-class partnership between SXSW and Mazda that exemplified an experience that not only helped the partner reach their goals and objectives but amplified the audience’s on-site experience.

  1. Remain Calm, Cool and Very Collected

Producing a worldwide, multi-day festival with hundreds of events that integrate best-in-class activations is no easy feat. Being able to read and react to adverse situations and unforeseen challenges while being solutions-focused is Scott’s secret key to success.

To hear more insights from Scott, register for the Sponsorship Mastery Masterclass series and access his session “Cool Activations Ideas to WOW Your Audience.” Scott joins many other industry trailblazers who share with the SMS community how they are innovating and inspiring the sponsorship industry –and taking it by storm. Register today to learn more.



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