Richard Cook looks at the reason for Lowes’ link-up with Birkholz and
Last week the Lowe Group announced it was acquiring a minority stake in
the Frankfurt-based sports sponsorship company, Birkholz and Jedlicki.
The company has been around for 25 years, organised and managed more
than 400 sporting events and, crucially, has handled the Opel account in
Germany for more than a decade.
In fact, a large chunk of its dollars 54 million billings comes from the
pan-European sponsorship strategy and implementation work for General
Motors, which included Euro 96, covers the backing of some of Europe’s
leading club sides, and forthcoming event sponsorship for the World Cup
finals in France in two years’ time.
Although the Lowe Group and Birkholz and Jedlicki’s involvement with
General Motors provided a convenient introduction for the two partners,
the formalisation of the link-up is based on firmer foundations than
‘We are delighted to have found a partner with such a wealth of
experience in this specialist field,’ the Lowe Group chairman, Frank
Lowe, says. ‘But, in addition, this investment fits in well with our
strategy of building up our integrated know-how - not just in the UK,
Lowe concedes that Vauxhall/ Opel’s successful involvement in Euro 96
has helped to open the agency’s eyes to the world of sports sponsorship.
But it’s not all about the feel-good factor - the figures make pretty
straightforward reading as well.
Sports sponsorship is leading the communications sector in terms of
growth, according to Lowes. The agency estimates that, across Europe,
the market has doubled in size in the past five years to about dollars
3.7 billion. Worldwide, the figure is closer to dollars 10 billion.
This growth is increasingly fuelled by programme sponsorship, which
should be a concern of most conventional agencies, let alone those with
integrated aspirations. In the end, the emergence of sports sponsorship
as a real force in the mainstream agency world may be the one comfort
they can all cling to when those sporting memories finally fade.