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Q&A with sponsorship expert Rick Ramsbottom
Rick Ramsbottom joined Score Marketing Inc. in May 2016 as a Senior Consultant for Mobi: the bike share program coming to Vancouver this summer. Wherever he has worked, whether it be with the Vancouver Whitecaps from 2003-2006, the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver or the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, Rick has reached or exceeded sponsorship expectations. He cannot be considered anything other than an expert in the field of sponsorship marketing and Score Marketing Inc. is happy to have him on board.
Read below to learn a little bit more about Rick. You’ll be taken full circle, from his 20′s, to reflections on his time with the Pan Am and Olympic Games, to his current career at Score Marketing Inc., to some advice he’d give his 20 year old self.
What is your favourite project you’ve worked on and why?
It’s hard to choose just one because they are all so unique but two come to mind. The first one is working on the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games here in Vancouver. The opportunity to work on the Games in my hometown was truly something special. It brought the city and country together in a way that no one, including ourselves, anticipated. The second project would have to be the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto. We fought through so much adversity in the early years and seeing the city and country embrace the Games the way they did made all the hard work worth it.
Were there any similarities between working on the Pan Am Games and Olympics?
Great leadership. For the Olympics, we had great leaders in John Furlong and Dave Cobb. For the Pan Am Games, our CEO’s Ian Troop and Saad Rafi were both amazing. They are all incredibly smart and most importantly, were passionate about what the Games could mean for the city, province and country. It’s also key to note that people really trusted them. When you are working with companies four to five years before the actual event is staged, there is a great leap of faith needed from the companies and their executives. They need to trust that the people they are doing business with are doing it for the right reasons and will be there when needed most. The leaders I mentioned provided that and more which is why both Games were so successful.
You helped generate $135 million in sponsorship revenue for the Pan Am Games, more than three times the revenue generated in any previous Pan Am Games, and $750 million in domestic sponsorship revenue for the Vancouver Olympics. How were you and your team able to accomplish these feats?
We had bigger expectations for what we thought we could achieve in both situations. Surprisingly, Toronto, which is the heart of corporate Canada and has the largest population base in the country, hadn’t hosted a major multi-sports event since the British Empire Games in 1930. It was a long time coming for that region. We knew if we could rally the general population and corporate Canada around how unique an opportunity the Pan Am Games were to celebrate both sports and culture, we could have really fantastic results. We dreamt big and shared that big vision with potential partners.
What persuaded you to come work with Score Marketing Inc. on Mobi?
A lot of what you do is about the people you get to work with. I’ve known Garnet Nelson (Managing Director for Score Marketing Inc.) for some time and he has really established himself and Score Marketing Inc. as a leader in the industry. They have a proven track record, boasting some of the most popular properties in the Lower Mainland including the Vancouver Sun Run and the Celebration of Light. We also have a similar approach to partnerships, both believing that a “win-win” approach is key and that a brand’s business objectives must be understood thoroughly before a partnership with a property can be made. Mobi gives me the chance to work on something that is really going to make Vancouver better. It’s going to make the city more livable and help its citizens become more physically active: something I’m quite passionate about.
What are lessons you’ve learned from your Olympic and Pan Am Games experiences that are applicable to the work you are doing with Mobi?
I’ve learned that you really have to take the time to understand a brand’s business objectives and challenges. You have to make sure they are a good fit for the property and figure out whether the property can help them with those objectives and challenges. A key question is how can a company’s values, people and products be integrated into a property that benefit both parties and the end consumer? How can an authentic story be told about why a brand is sponsoring a property? For Mobi, I’ve found that brands are less concerned about general awareness. They want to associate their brand with something that will make the region more sustainable, more active, and a better place to live. They also like the idea of how bike share can benefit their employees and their clients’ employees. Of course brand visibility is important, but you’re really only scratching the surface if that’s all you’re looking at.
What are the essential components of an effective partnership?
There has to be a good alignment for what the event or property stands for, and what the client’s brand stands for. The rights and benefits don’t really matter if you don’t have alignment on values right up front. This helps to ensure the brand can tell an authentic story around why they chose to be involved, and engagement with consumers rings true.
There is always talk about industries needing to innovate to stay relevant with the times. Do you think the sponsorship marketing industry needs to innovate and if so, how?
The big question the industry faces in terms of innovation is how can technology be leveraged to best help brands interact with people? Taking Mobi for example, how can brands interact with the annual and monthly members in a non-intrusive way; a way where users see the interaction as improving their experience? How can the brand’s involvement be integrated into the program’s app or social media? Effective use of technology is the next frontier for the sponsorship marketing industry.
What is some advice you would you tell the young man in the photo we started off with?
Do things you’re passionate about and don’t rush into your career. Your professional career is so long: Is starting at 28 rather than 22 really going to make a huge difference? Life is too short to work on things you don’t care about so follow your heart and do things that matter to you. And work with good people, they make all experiences that much better.