A good way to finance a movie, for both first time producer and more experienced, are through sponsorships. To be successful in finding sponsors the producer needs the ability to communicate how the sponsor will benefit from their engagement. Here I will do a brief overview what kind of commercial values are being sold through the sponsorship – and how they can be “packaged” for sales.


Public relation values

The value of being a sponsor to a movie project is the value to use the movie as a means for communication, networking and brand association. These are all public relation values. If the producer knows how these values can be categorized and labeled for sale – and know who the potential buyers are, he can form a plan for how the sales process should be executed. It’s important to understand that there are many commercial values in a movie project, other than just the distribution rights – and that it’s those other values that are being sold through a sponsorship. This means that you invite the potential sponsors to take part of the exploitation of the picture, rather than just supporting production costs as a gesture of generosity. To make the sales process easier you can categorize the public relations values of movie in three categorize: The value of exposure, the networking value – and the value of association. These three categorize can then be divided into rights and opportunities. Rights are what a sponsor company receives that as part of the agreement from start. Opportunities includes the supervene rights that a company has an option to use, but needs additional support from the sponsor company either financially or in terms of own staff and/or creativity. This then explains to the sponsoring company that there are more ways than one to use an engagement as a sponsor to a movie – as well as describes the return of the sponsorship. This also allows for the sponsor to start out with an engagement in a smaller scale and then increase it later on.


The value of exposure

The value of exposure in movies, are most of the time associated with product placement, and sure, product placement can be a great way to get exposure; Like a having an actor drink a beer of a certain brand, drives a car of another brand, talks on the phone of yet another brand – or maybe even mention a specific product. However, the value of exposure in a movie projects does not start or end with product placement – or what’s seen up on the screen in terms of credits. It could also be having the company logo on the website of the movie, printed on the t-shirts worn by the cast and crew – or being mentioned in the behind the scenes documentary or having their products exposed or used on set when journalist are invited (like energy drinks). Not to forget the maybe most important exposure of all, being mention in the press releases sent out to all media – or even included in the e-mail banner from the production company. Many people are fooled to think that the value of exposure are the only “true” value when it comes to public relations package in movies – and it’s also quite easy to handle. All the company needs to do is send a company logo to the producer and make sure he gets the exposure agreed upon. However, the leverage won’t be as good if a company only chooses to go for the value of exposure, since it won’t impregnate the company communication – but rather be a separate part of it.


The networking value

The networking value is the value that a project can offer in terms of networking activities. This can be anything from being a board member, acting as extra on a set, attend the premiere, take part in panel discussions and similar activities. These activities are perfect opportunities for sponsoring companies to actively represent the company as a human being, in a personal way – and to establish new business relationships. These activities such as attending a premiere and mingle with actors and directors,

makes for rich experiences that sticks with a person at the sponsoring company – and can be used by the sponsor to strengthen their relationships to third party clients (if they’re able to invite them to the premiere). The networking activities also have the benefit that it requires a bit more engagement from the sponsor, since they have to be actively involved in how they plan to use it, which usually makes it easier to reach the goal that the sponsor have with their engagement in the project.


The value of association

The value of association is the value of the right for a person or corporation to associate itself with the movie. To use the movie as a vehicle in the marketing of the companies own product or services such as creating tie-ins in the form of special meals at fast food restaurants – or targeted ads to the customers  using pictures of the characters in the movie. It also includes all sort of “symbolic credits”, such as associate producer – or some of the “passive” executive producers. The association right can also be used in the internal communication in larger corporations, to co-workers, retailers or customers. Such as when a post production service provider are co-producing features mainly for improving their image, so they can charge the advertising agencies more for their commercials.


Spheres of interest

To avoid difficulties in the sponsors understanding, of how they can benefit from the commercial values on the public relations side of movie, the producer needs to be distinct in the structure and logic of the allocation of these values. An engagement in the project can act as a universal tool that can help the company reach out to all different spheres of interest that a company might have, with different purposes. To clarify the different arenas that an engagement in the project can be used for, the producer can categorize the sponsoring company objectives in four different “spheres of interest”: The Market, The Capital Market, Staff and Community. To get a stronger focus on the engagement a company should probably just focus on one of the spheres. A sponsoring company could e.g. have the sphere “Staff” as a priority, and “stronger fellowship and loyalty” as a goal. Alternatively “The Market” as priority and “Increased sales” as a goal – or “The Capital Market” as a priority and “increased amount of trust” (goodwill) as a goal. Regardless, this categorization will make the sales process much easier, since it clarifies what the customer gets for his money. It also makes it easier to understand what kind of actions the producer needs to take, to help the sponsoring company reach their goal.



The sales of public relations values in a project can most of the time benefit from the use of barter agreements, so the producer can provide these services in exchange for goods or services from the sponsoring company. These goods and services will then decrease the cost of production or marketing and in many cases also will contribute to an increased value of the project – since most companies have an easier time providing goods or services then hard cash. This also leads to the partner getting exposure and a stronger conceptual value, by having the production using the company products or services.

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