Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Sticking to the Game Plan - Head of Sponsorship, E.ON

Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Sticking to the Game Plan - Head of Sponsorship, E.ON

Article excerpt

It was as a teenager growing up in Suffolk in the 80s that Mark Thompson, E.ON's head of sponsorship, nurtured his interest in grass-roots football, volunteering his time to local club Ipswich Town FC.

Now, 20 years down the line, his job has made it possible for him to transfer that interest to a bigger stage through E.ON's shirt sponsorship of the selfsame club, as well its ties to The FA Cup and The Football League, the latter com-prising an initiative called 'Fans of the future that aims to encourage more youngsters to attend matches.

Despite his youthful appearance, Thompson, 37, is a veteran of the UK utilities market, having made his debut in the industry when he joined Eastern Energy more than a decade ago.

His involvement in sports sponsorship stretches back even further, to 1994, when he worked for Denny Bros Printing, managing a series of business-to-business sports tie-ups. He also spent time on the panel of the now-defunct Sportsmatch scheme, which allocated government funds to local sports clubs and initiatives.

Thompson has since overseen a range of high-profile sponsorship deals spanning football, rugby league and rugby union. It was last year, however, that he signed his most significant agreement to date - a four-year title sponsorship of the FA Cup. 'We realised we were new to football and were conscious of the need to respect the traditions of the FA Cup, so we followed the tournament from the preliminary stages, which began with Wembley against Thame United, through to the final at Wembley Stadium,' he says.

While he claims to be extremely satisfied with the results of the tie-up's first year, he is keen to push on and add further depth to the sponsorship, which already spans the Women's FA Cup and the Youth FA Cup as well; E.ON is also an official partner of The FA's development programmes.

Thompson is, however, wary of acting impulsively. 'It is important to do something different from your competitors, but strategically it needs to be thought out. Last-minute deals are generally last-minute for a reason and tend to be no good,' he says.

Despite his lengthy track record of tying up with sporting events, Thompson's enthusiasm for such activity remains as fresh as ever. …

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