|Tim Ellerton – Global Sponsorship Manager, Heineken|
|Profile of the week|
Friday, 22 March 2013 17:05
Tim Ellerton has worked as the Global Sponsorship Manager for Heineken since 2008, working there for five years.
Before this, Tim started his professional career as a Senior Account Executive for Synergy Sponsorship Ltd in 2001, where he worked for nearly three years.
In 2003, Tim moved into the sponsorship market with Coca-Cola, becoming their Sponsorship Executive. After a year he moved up to Associate Sponsorship manager.
Tim became Coca-Cola’s Sponsorship Manager in 2007 and stayed with the company in 2008 before moving into his current role as Global Sponsorship Manager at Heineken.
He studied History at the University of Southampton and is a keen sportsman, regularly playing hockey, football, cricket and golf.
Heineken are major sponsors of the Champions League and the Heineken Cup.
By Ismail Uddin
You used to work at Coca-Cola. How does that role compare to being at Heineken?
My role at Coca-Cola was largely a UK role, whereas this is a global remit. For example, with the Champions League we have over 90 markets activating. It’s a corporate head office role, which is one of the key differences, but as companies and as brands within sponsorship, they’re not too dissimilar in many ways. I’m still trying to create engaging conversations with consumers and activations around our sponsorship and hopefully increase brand equity and sell more of our products on the back of it, so in that respect not greatly different.
The other thing about Coca-Cola is that with Heineken there are a lot more competitors, whereas in the soft drink or cola category there are fewer players whereas there are thousands of beer brands around the world.
What are the most pleasing aspects of your role at Heineken?
It’s a privilege to work on some of the properties we have, such as the Champions League and Rugby World Cup, and to be fortunate enough to experience some Champions League matches sometimes. The most exhilarating sporting event, for me, is the Champions League final, and with the other games in the Champions League it’s just a step up from any other type of football you can watch.
In terms of the role specifically, those three or four weeks when you’re working on Olympics and football World Cups are extremely exciting. But relevancy isn’t so much in the down years, whereas the Champions League comes back every September and lasts nine months, so once you finish one you’re onto the next program so there’s always something to keep you busy.
Heineken is a big believer in sponsoring sports events. When choosing a partner what criteria do you look for?
We look for relevancy for our audience, the ability to deliver on our business objectives and it has to be relevant for our products and our category as well.
Is there a certain return of investment (ROI) sport events provide you?
ROI is different for every brand. For me that’s the reason ROI is difficult to judge because everyone has their own objectives. We have our own objectives, some sponsorships we like for certain reasons and others sponsors we like for other reasons. It’s impossible to have one uniform way of measuring ROI. For example, the Champions League helps to build our awareness in markets all around the world, some of which we may have no position in or a very small position. The Heineken Cup, for example, we’ve been involved for 17 years and we know that rugby fans are already very loyal Heineken drinkers so it’s much more around increasing that loyalty. So, there’s no one way of measuring ROI for me, it depends entirely on what your objectives are in the first place.
Why is sponsoring individuals not in Heineken’s mind-frame?
Due to the nature of our product we have to be very careful around ensuring that we’re not appealing to an audience below the legal drinking age and quite often, active sportsmen and women are exactly that.
Second of all, we feel that by supporting the events themselves, rather than just the individuals or the individual clubs, your ability to reach a wider audience is far greater than an individual sponsorship where you can often alienate people who don’t support that team or that player’s team as opposed to being a tournament sponsor. Our research does show that people appreciate the sponsors that facilitate the event and contribute to making the event happen.
Wales have just retained their Six Nations crown. You joined as sponsors following their triumph last year. Will their success help you penetrate the market and reach the audience you want?
What I could say is our sponsorship of the Welsh Rugby Union puts our product in the hands of consumers at the event. One of the great things about rugby is you can sit in the stands during the game and enjoy a beer. It’s pure coincidence that we joined them during their success. That does help our association in that company but we can’t rest our laurels and be lazy. You still have to activate and be relevant to consumers. You can’t just expect to gain from a team doing well, you have to give something back to consumers and use it to enhance their experience.
Does the likelihood of success from a sports team play in your mind when choosing them?
We want to be associated with successful tournaments, teams and events. We wouldn’t ignore an opportunity just because a team wasn’t performing well, it’s not the only factor but it is important and it definitely helps.