The Canadian Sponsorship Landscape in 2018

November 7th, 2018 | Norm O'Reilly and Elisa Beselt, The T1 Agency


The Canadian Sponsorship Landscape Study provides Canadian sponsorship professionals with key insights and information on the scope, scale and trends of the sponsorship industry in Canada. Pulling from the data and uncovering the perspectives of the three key groups of sponsorship stakeholders – sponsors, properties, and agencies – the study paints a robust picture of what is happening within the industry.

With the results of the latest iteration of the CSLS finalized (12th Annual), here’s a snapshot of results that show us what’s going on in the sponsorship industry:

  • Canadian sponsors spent $1.94 billion on rights fees
  • They activated at ratio of 0.54; for every $1 in rights fee spend, they invested an additional $0.54 in activation
  • The total industry size (rights fees and activation) was $2.98 billion
  • Sponsors set aside 3.7% of rights fees on evaluation

In addition to the key numbers from this year, here are three unique trends over time that we think deserve some special attention this year:

1. VIK or value-in-kind investment has gradually declined as a percentage of the overall sponsorship investment.

In other words, cash is growing. In the early years of the study, it wasn’t unusual for sponsors to report that one in every three sponsorship dollars was VIK. In more recent years, that has dropped to one in every five dollars. So instead of providing cash to a property, the sponsors are providing budget-offsetting product or service. Why such a significant decline in VIK? A few potential reasons could be that:

  • Many organizations structure their incentives around cash revenue, not necessarily the equivalent amount in VIK, encouraging a higher focus
  • As the line between sponsorship and philanthropy blurs for many organizations, it may be that more VIK is earmarked as philanthropic donation rather than for sponsorship marketing objectives
  • Given the low activation ratio that we see in Canada, it may be that we’re behind on capitalizing on every opportunity to bring sponsorship to life and wring out every possible dollar of value for the deals, including VIK

2. The investment by sponsors in festivals has continued to decline.

After peaking in 2011-2013, capturing around 24% of sponsorship investment in Canada, the percent of sponsorship spend allocated to festivals has steadily declined, with this year’s investment at 8.3%. What’s sparking this downward trend? It may be that festivals are mirroring the trend seen in causes in that they are becoming an integral, required part of sponsorships and no longer being viewed a single entity.

3. Property activation reinvestment has continued to grow.

A few years ago, we started asking properties how much of their rights fee revenue they reinvest in activation. At first, it was close to zero (0.3% in 2013). But over the last few years, we’ve seen that steadily increase to 11.9% in 2017.

Properties are starting to realize that by allocating some of their sponsorship revenue to bringing the deal to life on behalf of their sponsors, they’re able to demonstrate the value of that sponsorship and potentially increase the likelihood of renewal.

For more results and insights from the Canadian Sponsorship Landscape Study, please visit: