|Daniele Sano - Head of Sponsorship, bwin.party|
|Profile of the week|
Wednesday, 14 August 2013 13:58
Daniele Sano is the Head of Sponsorship at bwin, the online gambling firm who have partnerships in sports with Manchester United, Real Madrid, MotoGP and more.
Daniele was born in Luzern, Switzerland but was a resident in Italy, living in Rome and working between Milan and Vienna.
He has a bachelor's degree in International Politics and a master's degree in Event Management.
Daniele joined bwin in November 2007 and was appointed as the Head of Sponsorship & Events of bwin.party in January 2011.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you became involved in the sponsorship sector?
It was a coincidence as I had been studying international politics. I started working in the event industry and then I moved into the marketing area. I really started to enjoy that work. I was working for Octagon, dealing with their sponsorship for the Superbike World Championships. In 2007 the company became Infront Sports and I was offered the job at bwin as a Sponsorship Manager. I think they contacted me because of my experience working for a rights holder and in the sports world. I moved to bwin at the end of 2007 and since then I have always been working in the sponsorship and events units. At the beginning of 2011 I was promoted to Head of Sponsorship and Events at bwin party.
Have you always had an interest in sport and if so does this make your role at bwin easier?
Yes I have always watched and practised a lot of sports. My interest in sports definitely makes my job easier and more enjoyable. I have to say though that I was not planning on working in the sports industry. I am very lucky because I am working in a world that is associated to one of my passions.
You joined bwin just after the company became the main sponsor of Real Madrid. How exciting a time was that for the company and what were the biggest challenges for you then?
One of the reasons I was convinced to join bwin was their very strong and impressive sponsorship portfolio. When I joined we were already the shirt sponsor of AC Milan and we had just entered the Real Madrid jersey deal. Bwin also sponsored Moto GP which, for me, as an Italian, was a very strong sponsorship. These deals played a crucial role in my move. I was moving from a very international sport marketing company to a betting company. Moving to a company where I would be working with very important partners was exciting and played an important role in my decision making.
Your overall strategy now across football seems to be to focus on teams’ online fan bases, one example being the restructure of your deal with Real Madrid. Why do you see this as the route to take?
This is part of our recently launched sponsorship strategy that focuses on digital partnerships. In the past we have always invested heavily in sponsorship and our objective has been centred on brand visibility. We decided to shift from this to a different kind of integration. We believe we have reached a good brand awareness level in our key countries and now we need to talk and engage with our core target group. For us it is key to be integrated on the online, social and mobile platforms of our partners and also to be able to use our partners’ key content. This includes the designation, logo, the player image, or content such as exclusive interviews, ticketing and merchandise on our platforms as well. At one end we want to be integrated onto their platforms and at the other end we want to make use of these valuable assets on our platforms.
Was your main goal then originally with Real Madrid to achieve brand awareness and did you know you would then move to this online strategy later on?
We started investing heavily in sponsorship in 2004/2005 with the Moto GP and AC Milan deals. Our key and primary objective in the Real Madrid deal was to increase brand awareness. However, it was also a way to position ourselves and build from there. Being a betting and gaming brand it is very important to achieve a political acceptance. In 2005/2006 there were not so many betting and gaming firms partnering with top rights holders, leagues or teams. This gave out a lot of credibility that we can now see. The level of acceptance and awareness, as well as the increase in value can be trailed back to our sponsorship strategy.
You also have partnerships with Manchester United, another massive force in world football. Has your business in England grown as a direct result of this partnership or has that deal actually helped you on a more global scale?
The partnership with Manchester United is certainly helping us in the UK, but we have to consider this partnership as an international one. This is the reason why we wanted to partner with Manchester United. It must not be seen as a local, English sponsorship engagement. We can consider Manchester United as the most global football club in the world in terms of reach. This partnership also started our digital approach. Working with Manchester United has been easier than with other clubs and that is why we chose an English club. In England the approach to betting and gaming companies is definitely more open compared to other countries. There is a different culture in England and it is more accepted. For example with Manchester United we were able to launch a co-branded slot machine. We also launched a co-branded Twitter channel with them and so we are doing high-levels of activation that would not be possible in other countries.
The business in the UK grows when we complement our sponsorship approach with a strong marketing investment. Sponsorship itself can only contribute to the growth of a market but cannot deliver direct business results with just a general statement. It is not going to deliver direct business results in any country.
What other countries and clubs have you found it harder to work with?
It is not really about the teams. All the teams are very similar in terms of access, so it is really more about the country and the culture. For sure in Italy and Spain it is very, very difficult when it comes to betting or online poker.