Phase 2: Assess the options.
We had a load of responses to this brief from our media agency (Dentsu), creative agencies (like Frank, BBH and Twelve) and a sponsorship intermediary (Get Me Media). Each was assessed on its scale, and whether it would excite the retailers, shoppers and colleagues.
The idea that really excited me was the opportunity presented by Get Me Media which was the Wildcats sponsorship. It not only gave us the title rights to that, but designation as the official cereal partner to the England men’s and women’s senior football teams.
Phase 3: The sell in.
I’m a football fan. A Crystal Palace season ticket holder for over 30 years, but I had to temper my enthusiasm and be objective in my assessment and recommendation to the business. It was a lot of money I was asking the business to commit for a relatively long time.
So, my pitch to the business became about the numbers (I even took down the signed Palace shirt that hangs on the wall behind me on Zoom calls, and replaced it with a signed Bobby George shirt).
Numbers like: the scale of the opportunity, data on how our shoppers viewed a partnership between Weetabix and football, whether an on-pack promotion featuring the prizes we had available improved purchase intent, what volume we needed to sell to break even and what I thought a realistic upside would be.
The reality is that, at that time (way back in 2020), the men’s game had more universal appeal with the general public– even amongst the women we asked in our research. The retailers were also more excited about the prospect of having men’s players on pack.
Weetabix, though, were much more excited about the opportunity to fuel the development of grass-roots girls football and be a partner of the women's game. Both are more "on brand" than the men's game.
In fact the men’s team posed a reputational risk to a brand with family values like Weetabix. And as if to prove that point, on the week of one of my board presentations, Harry Maguire got himself arrested and put in jail on a Greek island. Unhelpful.
Phase 4: The implementation.
So, I eventually managed to get the deal signed off internally, after months of going back to the board. Id been working on building my resilience, and that was properly tested in that period. Helped by the fact I passionately believed in the activation and in "going big" if you want to improve the fortunes on a brand like Weetabix.
But, I had no idea how all-consuming the implementation would become for my team. From the 65 page contract with the FA, to the negotiations with all the other UK&I national FAs (we needed to replicate the England deal across the UK & Ireland), to the retailer sell-ins, to the monitoring of what feature we had secured. The activation and amplification of the sponsorship is more important and harder work than getting the deal done in the first place.