How ABP Southampton got value from sponsoring the city's first half marathon for 30 years

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Sponsoring an event can either be valuable for your business or a big waste of money. The team at Carswell Gould explores how companies like ABP Southampton get the job done properly.


Find an event that suits your business

Unless you’ve already partnered up with an event, take time to think about who you want to reach and why. If you’re a doctor it might not be the best idea to sponsor a pie-eating contest.

This spring, CG supported its client ABP Southampton in its sponsorship of the ABP Southampton Half Marathon, creating everything from branding to press releases and coverage to photography and media relations on the day.

The half marathon was the perfect choice for a business as intrinsic to the city as ABP Southampton, as the company really believed in the event. Look for one that suits your brand and provides a great experience for the audience.

Nick Ridehalgh, port director at ABP Southampton, said:

“The ABP Southampton Half Marathon was an exciting historic event for the city. There is a special relationship between Southampton and its port, so as soon as we heard about the event we wanted to do everything we could to support it. It was a great showcase for the city and the benefits will be felt right across the region for a long time to come.”

Define your goals

Your main goal is likely to be an increase in direct sales, but don’t forget to think about all the other elements that will mean a win for your business. Are you aiming for a mass of media coverage or to connect with the community?

Setting out your goals will stop you wasting your money and give you something to measure the outcomes against. ABP Southampton wanted to connect with the city and show residents how much it cares.

Make your business visible

By making the most of the branding opportunities and creating exciting and engaging content, your business will see real value from sponsoring an event. Ed Gould, creative director at CG, said:

“The branding CG’s creative team produced for the ABP Southampton Half Marathon placed the Port right in the thick of the action. The distinctive imagery was shown throughout the city and media coverage, and really worked to tie the Port and the event together.”

As well as getting your business seen at the event, use social media heavily to engage with your audience. Invest in great photographers to capture your business’ involvement with the day and produce some hero shots that will mean more to your audience than adverts. Create great PR to tell your story, as ABP Southampton did by reaching 844,474 people.

When you’ve done all of that, do as Port director Nick Ridehalgh did and participate in the event yourself.


Go the extra mile

Whatever you’re sponsoring, it’s important to add something meaningful to the community surrounding the event and to offer participants something to enhance their experience. Laura Downton, PR account manager at CG, said:

“ABP Southampton benefitted participants in the races by introducing ABP Milemakers. These groups of supporters cheered on runners at each mile and kept them motivated with everything from inspiring placards to sweets and water. Every charity or community group that took part as ABP Milemakers received a £200 donation from ABP after the event as a thank you for their hard work.”

What next?

Check out some more great examples of how CG has helped brands get value from sponsorship:

PSP Southampton Boat Show

GORE-TEX® Arctic challenge


BAILEY’s Women’s Prize for Fiction

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