|Mark Osikoya- Head of Sponsorship, Coca-Cola GB|
|Profile of the week|
Monday, 30 January 2012 11:24
Mark joined Coca-Cola Great Britain (CCGB) in September 2008 with responsibility for the company’s sponsorship strategy and portfolio across all brands. This role covered Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of The Football League and Wayne Rooney as well as Powerade’s partnerships with the English and Welsh Rugby Unions and the Great Run series of events. At a global level, Coca-Cola is also a partner of The FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championship.
Mark joined Coca-Cola Great Britain (CCGB) in September 2008 with responsibility for the company’s sponsorship strategy and portfolio across all brands. This role covered Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of The Football League and Wayne Rooney as well as Powerade’s partnerships with the English and Welsh Rugby Unions and the Great Run series of events. At a global level, Coca-Cola is also a partner of The FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championship. With the onset of the London 2012 Olympic Games, Mark moved on to a role focused solely on Coca-Cola’s sponsorship portfolio around the event, covering LOCOG, athletes, Team GB, Paralympics GB and Street Games.
Before joining Coca-Cola, Mark worked as a Sports Marketing Manager at Adidas UK and then seven years working as Head of Sponsorship at The Football Association in England, before, most recently, being part of the Client Services Team at the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (London 2012).
I didn’t really know what I really wanted to do afterwards. I did a graduate training scheme with Allied Domecq, where I spent a lot of time in each different area. I decided marketing was for me and then in my first marketing job, I got a taste for sponsorship. Because I’ve always played sport and am very much into sport, I moved into sport sponsorship quite quickly. I never really intended that to be the route. It was just through experience and the fact it was working on something that you’re passionate about.
During your stint at Adidas, how difficult was it not to alienate people who supported other teams, and how conscious of this were you?
When you get into that side of sponsorship you’ve got to accept that you can’t please everyone. I think the way you’ve got to approach it is you’ve got to focus on getting into the mindset of the people you are appealing to and focusing your message on them. There are ways you can focus the messaging much more towards the group you are concentrating on as opposed to those that you’re not. You’re going to have people who support one person or one team and you’re going to have people that don’t support them. I think you get into sport from a sponsorship point of view because of the passion of the fans and it’s the passion of the fans that support the team that you’re sponsoring that you focus on. It’s about focusing on the positives rather than negatives.
A popular debate on iSportconnect at the moment surrounds the sponsorship of Liverpool. Why do you believe Warrior Sports chose a team not living up to expectations on the pitch as way of entering the UK soccer market?
I think it’s positive to be honest because more money is coming into the sponsorship industry. Whilst Liverpool might not be doing on the pitch over here currently, they have got a massive global fan base and there’s a great opportunity to talk to people over in Asia, for example. Plus, it must be the link between Fenway, New Balance and Boston. Also it’s about which brands are going to become available and where the opportunity lies. If you look at Arsenal and Manchester United, they’re not going to become available for a long time and Tottenham recently done a deal with Under Armour.
From an F.A point of view, a lot of the time you have to be in sales mode, so you’ve got a property that you’re going out to sell and you are actively pitching that property to prospective sponsors. When you are not in sales mode, you are in client-servicing mode and you are making sure that sponsors that you’ve got get the most out of sponsorship deals that are in place.
You’re also working towards a definitive cycle so there was always a definitive three/four year sponsorship cycle. At Coca-Cola things are a bit more fast-moving, those cycles maybe aren’t three or four years, they’re much more annual because that’s when the brands plan there activity. Things change a lot quicker and you’re reacting a lot more to the external environment than you would at a governing body.
It’s the first time that I’ve worked on properties that are truly global like the World Cup and the Olympics. Previously, my experiences have been much more based around the United Kingdom and Europe, so it has changed my perspective in terms of there are very few properties that you can talk about being global. Luckily at Coke, we sponsor most of them. It’s really a positive thing to work on something you know is going to be activated in hundreds of markets across the world.
I think it’s the ability to talk at a global level, but also localising the partnership as well. The Olympics are a property that appeals to everyone broadly, but on a local level you can make that message relevant to a particular local market, so through our Olympic sponsorship we also get sponsorship of the national Olympic committees and the teams as well. So whilst the Olympics might not be held in your market, every nation has a team that’s competing, so there’s a relevant interest.