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Breaking the Mold: Creating a New Sponsorship Value Proposition to Drive Revenue

As the head of Commercial Strategy & Business Development for KNVB, Nicole Bekkers has embraced the challenge of thinking differently about partnerships to break the mold and create a different value proposition.
“If we want to create new revenue streams, we have to create a bigger market for ourselves,” she said.

Bekkers brought her insights to Seattle back in September during her Sponsorship Summit session: “How Adopting a Diverse Sponsorship Portfolio Will Accelerate Results for Brands.”

For Bekkers and the Royal Dutch Football Association, breaking the mold required a little outside-the-box thinking. After all, the Netherlands is a relatively small country and, well, not everyone is a football fan.

“The biggest aha moment was when we finally embraced that football (European), like any other sport, is just entertainment, and we are competing with other entertainment brands in creating new value propositions,” she said. “We asked ourselves, ‘How can we carve out a new proposition that creates value both on the rightsholder’s side and on the brand’s side?’”

To accomplish this, Bekkers took the unique approach of bringing together four of the country’s women’s sports federations – football, volleyball, field hockey and handball – to create a new value proposition that would bring more value to potential sponsors.

The first potential sponsor was the country’s Ministry of Defense, which was looking to recruit more women. The partnership centered around the story of team, struggle and ambition. It was a partnership that made sense.

However, the partnership conversations were derailed by the pandemic. Ultimately, that led to an even larger partnership, this one with DHL. DHL had turned down a potential partnership with each federation on its own. As a collective, though, this was a unique opportunity that produced a multi-million dollar partnership over four years.

“This added value for DHL, that’s the most important part,” Bekkers said. “It’s the story of women and girls breaking barriers, reaching their full potential, using four, award-winning national teams.”

With the visibility and activations across the four sports, DHL gained an 11% increase in likeability in just six months. This partnership provided tangible benefits for DHL and the federations.

“If we can help the players of the teams to be their best selves, they can inspire a whole generation of boys and girls to go for their dreams and reach their potential,” Bekkers said.

Bekkers said she is seeing more of these types of partnerships come to life, mentioning the jersey partnership between the Royal Belgian Football Association and the Tomorrowland Music Festival. By bringing together two audiences, each property was able to reach more people in a unique way.
For Bekkers, this is a key piece of sponsorship’s future, finding a story and creating something different.