Marketers urged to ask tough questions about their corporate hospitality budgets

photoMarketers should question whether their spending on corporate hospitality is justified, last night’s Mumbrella Meet The Marketers event was told.

The four panellists were asked to identify one expenditure they would drop if they had to.

Chelsea Wymer, head of trade marketing at Fairfax Media, identified corporate hospitality.

She said: “It’s about us being able to better justify  what we do. With things like corporate hospitality, it comes back on my plate. How do we then use that experience to build a brand message? How do we raise awareness, educate in that same experience? Rather than just taking people to the football and having a few drinks.”

The media industry, particularly TV networks,  is a heavy user of corporate hospitality, with companies regularly entertaining media agency staff and advertisers at sporting events.

A group of media agency bosses and marketers will shortly be flown to Sochi courtesy of Channel Ten for the Winter Olympics. Nine offers similar entertainment for its big spenders at events it has right to such as international cricket. And Seven took a string of guests to the Australian tennis Open, and has previously taken guests to Wimbledon.

The rationale behind much corporate hospitality in the media industry is that it helps build relationships. However, some critics believe it can lead to individuals from agencies skewing their spending of clients’ money in favour of those who have entertained them. Others point to marketers using it as a means to support their favourite teams or sports.

Arguing that if corporate hospitality was to be funded, it should be more directly about the brand, Wymer said: “How can we make that happen so I can go back to the CFO and say this  is what we did? It’s about being smarter on what we deliver on those things and that we can justify it back to the business.

“ROI, especially in marketing, is becoming important. They are starting to really look at it. ”

Her comments were backed by Kevin Ramsdale, GM of consumer marketing at NAB. He said: “It can sometimes be framed as corporate largesse. You should ask: Why do you do corporate hospitality? In our case we will do specialised corporate hospitality for very specialised customer segments. You’re doing it to create engagement and you’re doing it to demonstrate thought leadership on a topic.”

Wymer added: “There’s a huge difference between taking your clients to a box to watch the football, and having your head sports writer there to discuss the issues that are going on on the field.”


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