|Giancarlo Bernini- Head Of Sponsorship, Sony Mobile|
|Profile of the week|
Monday, 19 March 2012 13:31
Giancarlo Bernini is head of sponsorship at Sony Mobile in London.
He joined Sony Ericsson (now Sony Mobile) in March 2011 and oversees its global sponsorship assets such as the WTA, Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Billabong and other brand ambassador relationships. Before joining Sony Mobile, he worked at Visa Europe for 6 years in several roles in sponsorship and partnership marketing with properties such as the Olympic & Paralympic Games (Beijing 2008, Vancouver 2010 and London 2012), FIFA World Cup 2010, Rugby World Cup 2007 and partnerships such as Disney and AEG.
His start in sports marketing came in 2004 when he joined Visa International as a project manager for the Torino 2006 Olympic & Paralympic Games. Prior to this he worked in sales and business development roles in the financial services sector.
Bernini has an MBA from London Business School, is a dual national of the UK and Italy and lives in London with his wife and son.
My experience at Visa gave me an insight into the whole sponsorship space. Going in and working for one of the biggest sports sponsors in the world was really useful for me in terms of having first-hand exposure of working on global properties like the Olympic & Paralympic Games, FIFA, Rugby World Cup and partnerships such as Disney and AEG.
I am the head of sponsorship at Sony Mobile Communications. I oversee our sponsored properties, so the WTA relationship, the Sony Ericsson Open and the recently- announced Billabong partnership, which we kicked-off globally from January this year.
What are the most challenging and, equally, rewarding aspects of your job?
This is an incredibly fast-moving industry and you really have to be on your toes all the time. Products change very quickly and innovations come in. One of the challenges is making sure that everything is fresh, everything is innovative and trying to do something new every time. But, equally, it’s also one of the most rewarding aspects because we’re always trying to do new things, different things and it’s great to see some of these things come to fruition. For example, last year, one of the digital activations that we did through our tennis sponsorship was Xperia Hot Shots. An online platform that we had never done that before and it was great to see that come to fruition and the results it generated for us.
It depends. Obviously, we need to make sure where we’re investing is aligned with our business objectives. That’s always going to be at the forefront of every decision that’s ever made. So, back in 2005 when we decided to sponsor the WTA, it helped to build our brand on a global level across the WTA Tour. I guess it really depends on the type of asset, what we feel it can bring and help us deliver as a business overall, whether it’s driving awareness, driving preference or driving purchase of our products.
Ultimately it needs to be based on insights and focused on business goals and objectives. Our Billabong partnership is a perfect case in point - that’s a great opportunity for us to drive awareness and preference with our brand amongst a very targeted, but highly- influential demographic; extreme sports enthusiasts. It’s a great partnership to help us position our devices in a new way and is supported by the Xperia Active Billabong smartphone - a water and dust-proof device which suits the needs of extreme sports enthusiasts.
We look to support our marketing goals all the time through our sponsorships. We look to drive preference for our Xperia Sony Smartphone brand, to ensure that people are aware of what we’re doing and ultimately it’s about ensuring that all the activities are helping drive sales of our products.
As I mentioned before, the trajectory of tennis stems back to 2005. At the time, we needed to grow our brand on a global level. The WTA Tour allowed us to do that 53 events throughout the year across the world. 53 events in only 52 weeks in a year means there’s something going on all the time all around the world, which is great for us in terms of getting us a lot of exposure. Tennis is the fourth most-watched sport in the world, and the WTA partnership helps us to connect with consumers around the world. They have a digital fan base of well over 20 million people, so that helps us amplify our messaging throughout the world as well.
The WTA is a great partner of ours. I think from a rightsholder perspective, they’re certainly one of the better partners at striving to innovate and trying to help sponsors achieve their objectives. I think it’s something all rightholders need to do more of, rather than taking a prescriptive sponsorship model and not really moving or being flexible with it. I think the WTA is a perfect example of a rightsholder that is moving with the times, constantly looking to innovate and do new fresh things to help its sponsors and ultimately grow its sport.