Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

An Interview with Carlos Illa, Sponsorship Director, Telefonica, SA. (Interview)

Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

An Interview with Carlos Illa, Sponsorship Director, Telefonica, SA. (Interview)

Article excerpt

In the early 1990s sponsorship became established as a widely-used marketing tool in Spain. The Barcelona Olympics, the Universal Exposition in Seville and the naming of Madrid as the Capital of European Culture were largely responsible for this. However, intensive sponsorship use does not necessarily mean appropriate sponsorship management. Carlos Illa, Sponsorship Manager of Spanish telecommunications firm Telefonica, has been always one of those few professionals who has managed to combine intensive use and appropriate management. In this interview he addresses various issues involved in sponsorship management including the combination of local and transnational sport marketing, sponsorship decision making and selection criteria, and different evaluation methods.

Keywords: sponsorship, transnational marketing, decision making, evaluation

Introduction

In the early 1990s sponsorship became established as a widely-used marketing tool in Spain. The Barcelona Olympics, the Universal Exposition in Seville and the naming of Madrid as the Capital of European Culture were largely responsible for this. However, intensive sponsorship use does not necessarily mean appropriate sponsorship management. Carlos Illa, Sponsorship Manager of Spanish telecommunications firm Telefonica, has been always one of those few professionals who has managed to combine intensive use and appropriate management. In this interview he addresses various issues involved in sponsorship management including the combination of local and transnational sport marketing, sponsorship decision making and selection criteria, and different evaluation methods.

CC: Carlos, perhaps we could start by you explaining something about the philosophy of Telefonica's sponsorship department?

CI: We have tried to make sponsorship a fundamental element of communication in our marketing mix. Sponsorship has gained an increasing priority as conventional advertising has become more saturated and, we feel, decreased in credibility. Sponsorship has been particularly useful at communicating our brand's values. In order to achieve this, we examine different sports along two dimensions, as shown in Figure 1. First, we look at sports that have similar values to our own. This means, in particular, having a commitment to being in the vanguard of technological development. We try to transmit this value via sponsorship. We also look at sports that we see as being closely affiliated with the members of the public that we are targeting.

We think that brand values are one of the main assets of the company. The best way of transmitting these values is through social, cultural or sport sponsorship. However, a sponsorship with international reach is desired because we think that our key markets are multinational. We have therefore pursued sponsorships that give us visibility in our most important markets. We also look for sponsorship opportunities that will provide us with continuity in our marketing. This is essential in sponsorship because the returns are slower than those from conventional advertising. From our point of view, first of all, a sponsorship must follow a global and co-ordinated strategy that tries to gain maximum brand impact with the public.

CC: What is required to develop this type of global co-ordinated strategy? How do you put it into practice?

CI: We put it into practice through careful global planning that gives consistency and coherence to all the sponsorships in the company in every sector and every country in which we work. The right sponsorship strategy must promote a unified message while being diverse enough to take into account particular national and local features. That is important and it is one of the major contributions of this department.

We have managed to combine all these features from the headquarters where we are. We are speaking about local closeness with a global view. …

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