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Revolutionary Partnerships Rooted in Authenticity

If there was one message driven home by our panelists during the “Brands Driving Change and Revolutionizing Sponsorship” at the annual Sponsorship Summit, it’s that, for brands, the age of transactional deals that trade dollars for logos has come to an end.

Panelists Jeff Hansen, General Manager/Strategic Partnerships at Microsoft, Amy Azzi, Senior Director of Sponsorships at T-Mobile, and Whitney Ellison, Director, Brand Marketing at Alaska Airlines, all shared a similar message. When it comes partnerships, these brands are looking for partners to help deliver authenticity.

“What we’re trying to do is drive a more emotional connection to the company,” Hansen said.

Azzi added, “For us, when we look at a sponsorship, it’s always about building a genuine partnership. We’re always looking at where we can bring our network and where we can make our partnership better.”

Before Alaska decides to “shake hands and make magic together,” there is a process of vetting potential partners. “For us, at Alaska, shared values are incredibly important,” Ellison said.

All three brands have found successful partnerships in the sports and entertainment space. For T-Mobile, partnerships with Red Bull Rampage – real-time data transfer from cameras using T-Mobile’s network that allows fans to engage more deeply with the sport – SailGP and Major League Baseball all highlight T-Mobile’s 5G network. By highlighting T-Mobile’s capabilities in fun and unexpected ways, it helps to build brand affinity.

Alaska understands that fans travel and the brand has made a point to “meet fans where they are at the passion point in their life,” Ellison said. The airline is really working to get creative in the content space, finding ways to get involved in the community.

A perfect example of prioritizing the right partnerships was Alaska’s activation with the UNCF. Not only did Alaska create a special aircraft that symbolizes its support for education and equity in 2021 the brand also flew HBCU students to the Monterey Jazz Festival.

For Microsoft, its multifaceted deal with the NFL provides a platform for teams to tell stories across technologies. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s deal with the Special Olympics helps to empower programs and athletes through technology.

For each brand, every sponsorship deal provides benefits to everyone involved. These brands have been intentional instead of transactional and they are charting the course for the future of the industry.