CLOSE-UP: GLOBAL BRIEF; Lowes secures sporting links

Richard Cook looks at the reason for Lowes’ link-up with Birkholz and Jedlicki

Richard Cook looks at the reason for Lowes’ link-up with Birkholz and

Jedlicki



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

that.



‘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,

but worldwide.’



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.



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