What Would Being Santa’s Sponsorship Manager Look Like?

December 15th, 2016 Posted by

It’s Christmas and so I thought I would have a bit of fun exploring what sponsoring Santa would look like, recalling some of the topics I have written about this year, and trying to work through the process of developing an approach for an available property I have as Santa’s sponsorship manager – Milk Pourage Rights.

But where do I start?

Firstly, before I even start to think about where I should look and who I should approach, I need to make sure I am ready to hit the market.

First step – Getting Ready

To start with, I begin to pull together ‘my story’ which outlines,


Pretty easy this one as the only rights holder that is synonymous with the biggest holiday observed globally, representatives present in most countries around the world and retail outlets globally leveraging the Santa brand to drive engagement and sales.

My Stats

To back up my USP I need some statistics. I’ll be collating stats on Santa’s global reach including number of homes visited, number of children impacted/benefited and total time Santa will spend in the air (peak engagement period).

Available Inventory

Designation as the official milk pourage partner is not going to be enough to activate the sponsorship. So, I need to assess my wider available inventory. That way, I am prepared with what I do have available to offer partners as I identify what would be appetising to any prospect based on what they may be looking to achieve (objectives).

My Creative

Next, I would work on a deck piece which succinctly outlines the above as well as the tailored opportunities that I will develop after further research. This would be augmented with a one-page highlight reel around the opportunity as a further engagement tool.

It would look something like this  – [click image to expand]

sponsoring santa 2016

[click image to expand]

Identifying Prospects

With my story locked down, I need to start prospecting and conducting research on potential partners. Given the size of Santa’s reach and profile, large multi-national brands are my target.

As such, I am thinking along the lines of Nestle, Lactalis, Danone and Fonterra, as the four top dairy companies in the world, as my first research targets. In processing this research, I’ll assess what objectives I can help achieve through both my USP and my available inventory. The reaserach helps me identify the following overarching objectives that these brands are looking to achieve:

  • Brand Awareness;
  • Brand Positioning; and/or
  • Community Engagement.

Furthermore, during my research, I’m looking to gain an understanding of:

  • their current marketing behaviours and activity;
  • their current partnership activity;
  • any sub-brands, of the company, that could be used to push through as their ‘Hero’ brands; and
  • other Christmas related activity/partnerships which may either be blockages or which could be augmented by my opportunity.

First Contact

My first contact with these companies would be via an introduction, seeking an initial conversation, which would be set-up by a trusted source.

An initial LinkedIn search shows that I can reach the decision makers at both Nestle and Fonterra through clients that are connected through a previous work history. Perfect; I’ll ask them to make an introduction for me.

First Meeting – Aligning Benefits to Objectives

Of course, the introductions went smoothly in this scenario! The LinkedIn introductions were successful and both Fonterra and Nestle agreed to an initial meeting

Following my first meeting I ascertained that:

  • Fonterra had some strong community engagement objectives, within their marketing plan, but very little branding objectives outside of New Zealand.
  • Nestle are big on their branding and, through their Skim Milk and Nan products, were both focussed on engaging with parents and communities within retail environments.

At both meetings, I left behind my one-pager and made an agreed time for a follow up meeting with Nestle who were quite engaged.

Making My Pitch

Following my research and initial meetings, I am now ready to pull it all together. I have decided to make an approach to Nestle and have secured a meeting at their head office in Switzerland. My deck now contains:

  • my USP;
  • my statistics;
  • my understanding of their marketing objectives and how I can align those to benefits:
    • Branding Awareness – Sleigh Signage,
    • Brand Positioning – Official Milk of Santa (licensed to all retailers), and
    • Community Engagement – Santa Appearances presented by Nestle NAN/Skim;
  • Benefits included:
    • 2 x logos on all Santa Sleighs globally,
    • promotion in all marketing activities to licensed re-sellers as the official milk supplier to Santa,
    • 10 x exclusive Santa Appearances,
    • 10 x pre and 10 x post-Christmas branded content pieces promoting Nestle’s Christmas moments, and
    • ability to leave discount vouchers under each tree globally for discounted access to Nestle NAN and Skim products.

Total Commitment – $27M over two years.

How else could I twist this?

Given the broad reach of Santa, the different activation appetites of the various markets and local distribution challenges, a great idea would be to offer Santa rights by region.

Yes, this will take some deeper research, and involve more conversations, however, the spread of risk and commercial upsides would be enormous.

How Would You Approach It?

This was all a bit of fun but I would be super interested in hearing your thoughts on how you’d approach this task. Leave a comment below.

A Test

In the infographic, did you spot the sponsor that I slipped in that is out of place?


Mark Thompson - SponServe

Mark Thompson // Managing Director

Mark specialises in sponsorship and diversified income strategies and has used this expertise across the Community, Semi-Professional and Professional Sports sectors. He combines hands-on experience in managing the expectations and obligations of sponsors with marketing and stakeholder engagement to deliver outstanding results.

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