|Kara Kingston - Associate Director Sponsorship, Bell Canada|
|Profile of the week|
Friday, 04 April 2014 18:13
Kara has been employed at Bell Canada, the country’s largest telecommunications company for the past nine years. During her time at Bell she has held various senior roles including her current position as Associate Director, Sponsorship.
Kara Kingston has 15 years experience working with international and national companies to spearhead innovative initiatives to improve market penetration and brand awareness. Kara manages large-scale consumer, community and public relations programs and negotiates and develops strategic sponsorship campaigns. In her current role Kara directs key properties in Bell’s multi-million dollar portfolio including the soccer (football) portfolio consisting of the Premier Founding Partnership of Vancouver Whitecaps FC, National Partner of FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 and the Founding Partner of the Canadian Soccer Association.
Prior to her sponsorship role, Kara was Associate Director of Olympic Partnerships at Bell Canada where she was responsible for developing and overseeing the company’s multi-million dollar local presence portfolio.
Kara also has seven years experience working agency side, holding roles at PR giant Hill & Knowlton (part of the WPP Group) and Cossette Communication – one of the country’s largest advertising firms.
By Ismail Uddin
You are the Associate Director, Sponsorship of Bell Canada and have moved up the organisation the last few years. How did you first get involved with Bell Canada?
I have been working at Bell for nine years, the time has flown by and it has been a really wonderful experience. Bell was a client of mine at my previous job at PR firm, Hill & Knowlton. I was recruited into a position here in 2005 to run a multi-million dollar campaign to increase awareness of our brand in western Canada.
Since Bell is the largest telecommunications company in the country with a sophisticated brand it was a simple decision for me to choose this as the next step in my career. The opportunity presented was very exciting and because I had been working with Bell in my agency life it was a fairly seamless transition.
You have worked previously in communications and PR roles. What prompted you to work in the sponsorship industry?
It actually wasn’t a conscious decision of mine to work in the sponsorship field; it was definitely more of an organic path. My past experience in communications, PR and brand building really led me here. The pinnacle of my career at Bell was managing our Olympic portfolio program. Our company won the Olympic bid and an opportunity to be a core member of that team arose. I was excited about the opportunity and was one of the first people to put up my hand up and want to be involved.
Bell Canada sponsors a number of iconic Canadian teams and organisations including Vancouver Whitecaps, FIFA World Cup 2015 and Canadian Soccer Association. What is your sponsorship strategy regarding these deals?
If I think back to eight years ago, we used to sponsor a number of different properties. We probably had five times the amount of properties we have now. We were doing a lot of things that were focused purely on brand exposure. But now our business environment has changed and we have become significantly more streamlined in our approach. The sponsorship landscape plays a critical role for us within our overall business plan. We have a national sponsorship strategy that is executed at a regional level. Each region within Canada has a different set of needs and this approach helps us ensure we are doing what’s right for each of our markets.
Coming out of the Olympics I was involved in negotiating our contract with football club Vancouver Whitecaps FC as they entered into their very first season in the MLS. My sponsorship work at Bell has morphed into more football projects; which is exciting for me. It works well as I am able to take learnings from what we’re doing in Vancouver with Whitecaps FC, use it for our relationship with Soccer Canada and also to plan for our partnership with FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015.
As you are a telecommunications and media company how does sponsorship of teams and organisations fit into the company’s plans?
Our lines of business continue to grow. Today we are Canada’s largest communications company and that means we have a lot of business divisions. Since our world at Bell is fast paced the way we look at sponsorship properties continually evolves.
If we are looking at a new partnership we will make sure that it provides us with strong brand exposure. But we also ensure that the partnership will allow us to enhance the experience either for our customers or the fans of that organization providing things such as exclusive sports content.