International Sponsor Council Partners with the American Brain Foundation on Athlete Brain Health

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International Sponsor Council Partners with the American Brain Foundation for Critical Research and Leadership Collaboration on Athlete Brain Health

Protecting and improving the health of the athlete brain is a lead focus of a global athlete health initiative by the International Sponsor Council (ISC), the trade association for corporate sponsors. The target goals of the ISC athlete brain health program are to provide critical medical research and funding led by the ISC in support of more scientific investigation into brain diseases afflicting athletes such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), ALS and dementia involving Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to research, the program will also include a summit that brings athletes, the sports industry, sponsors and members of the neurologic community together in collaboration on this issue.

In a worldwide effort to raise research funds for athlete brain health, the ISC has partnered with the American Brain Foundation, an international charity dedicated to funding research to defeat brain disease. The American Brain Foundation is the central driving force behind bringing neurologists, researchers, patients and caregivers together to help generate funding for and awareness of brain disease research.

“Our goal is to protect the brains of all athletes from girls and boys involved in youth athletics and recreation, to the highly-visible professionals in football, soccer, hockey, MMA, rugby, as well as nontraditional athletes including eSports,” said Terry Cecil, CEO and Chief Sustainability Engineer of the ISC. “We are also including the impact of virtual, mixed and augmented reality technology on both athletes and fans. This represents millions of people around the world and is a world challenge with a serious impact on society. Partnering with the American Brain Foundation on this project will have a valuable global impact for athletes, fans, sponsors and society.”

Cecil added, “From the perspective of corporate sponsors, athlete health is a sustainability issue. Sponsors have a collective interest and responsibility to help provide leadership on athlete health. Sustainability is a core value for most of the world’s large corporations, and they commit to it throughout their business processes which should include sponsorship. Health, safety and wellness are a critical part of that commitment. As sponsors, these corporations recognize that athletes are a critical stakeholder–without athletes, sport does not exist and therefore neither would sport sponsorship.”

“Through this collaboration, the American Brain Foundation will work to develop an army of researchers focused on athlete brain health,” said Robert Griggs, MD, FAAN, Chair of the American Brain Foundation’s Research Advisory Committee. “Our unique research partnership with our founder, the American Academy of Neurology, gives our foundation access to the best and brightest minds to source the most high-risk and high-reward research on athlete brain health.”

The American Brain Foundation funds the vital research needed to cure brain disease that affects one in six Americans. Founded by the American Academy of Neurology, the world’s largest association serving neurologists and the neuroscience community, the American Brain Foundation’s mission is to bring researchers and donors together to defeat brain disease.

International Sponsor Council Partners with the American Brain Foundation on Athlete Brain Health

McGregor and Mayweather – The Disconnect with Sponsors and What We Can Learn From It

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The McGregor-Mayweather fight was a learning opportunity for sports properties as far as sponsorship goes.  The positioning of the event was an archaic approach to sponsorship and showed a lack of understanding on how to create a meaningful partnership with brands. There were numerous articles about how sponsors were going to line up and provide millions of dollars in support of the grand spectacle that was built on hype and hysteria.

The media helped try to sell the hype and hopefully in the future  we can work together to reach for a more real and accurate situation that presents the sponsor side of things.

The value of sponsorship is not all about how many impressions you can create, it’s about the quality of a positive association for a sponsor and the opportunity to leverage it to successfully satisfy sponsor objectives. And one of those objectives isn’t to damage your brand. Most large corporations are committed to sustainability which through its social leg has a focus on health, wellness, diversity and other critical values. The fight failed to align these values with sponsor commitments.

In the need to create a raw and emotional atmosphere, the fight buildup included comments by each of the two fighters that were perceived by many to be both gay and racial slurs. This isn’t something most any brand wants and can afford to be associated with. Mayweather’s past allegedly involves domestic abuse and violence towards women. This association is damaging to brands and an insult to both women consumers as well as the women executives that work in the sports, entertainment and sports marketing industry.

Showtime, the fight’s broadcaster didn’t escape the damage when McGregor cussed out Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza. One can imagine how this might translate to the treatment of sponsor executives, fans or sponsor clients.

Another very important issue is the specter of brain injury. Even McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, has been quoted in the media stating that McGregor is very concerned about the risk of CTE. With what we know now about the potential risk of brain injury, corporations are starting to reassess their brand association with sports involving a potential high risk of CTE including both MMA and boxing as well as football, soccer, rugby and others. For the fight, the Nevada State Athletic Commission decided to go against the Association of Ringside Physicians plea and ruled to reduce the weight of the fighters’ gloves from 10 ounces to eight ounces which many feel would create more damage to the fighters.  This shows we have a long way to go to commit to athlete health. There needs to be more research on CTE and other brain injuries and a need to look at potential to rules, regulations and equipment to sport.

There will always be some sponsors that will support certain properties and that is their right to, but the industry needs to raise the bar if it wants to be part of making a positive impact on the world. Sponsors aren’t looking to dictate how a sport has to be played or change the behavior of athletes, but the industry needs to realize that risks to athlete health and behavior that is adverse to sponsor values will not be rewarded or supported.

The International Sponsor Council, trade association for sponsors, is working to integrate corporate sustainability initiatives with sponsorship. As part of this work, ISC is focusing on athlete health. Athletes are a critical stakeholder to sponsors and, again, sponsors can’t ignore the risk to athletes or suffer reputational damage.

The sponsorship industry needs to pay close attention to corporate sustainability initiatives and develop property offerings that align and support these values.

McGregor and Mayweather – The Disconnect with Sponsors and What We Can Learn From It

The Sponsorship Industry Needs Disruption


With all due respect to Clayton Christensen, this is our take on ISC’s disruption of the sponsorship industry.

Historically, sponsors haven’t succeeded in leveraging their respective power in protecting their interests. There are a number of reasons for this, but mostly it’s because sponsors have always been viewed as replaceable.

As their trade association, the ISC works to harness the collective power of sponsors. This benefits both sponsors, but also the sponsorship industry.  Collaborating through the ISC, sponsors can successfully protect and promote their interests. This increases the value of sponsorships which is great for sponsors and the industry. To achieve success in doing so, we need to disrupt.

The sponsorship industry – and sports in particular – has enjoyed great success. When that happens, people can be hesitant to change. This mindset of status quo can be a dangerous thing – just ask Steve Sasson and Eastman Kodak. There are, however, many issues facing the industry that negatively affect sponsors. To address this, the ISC analyzes the industry and is acts to disrupt for positive change.

This is the reason the ISC is focused on CTE, FFIA reform, athlete doping, reform of Qatar’s kafala migrant worker program and others. We see current and future risk and work to avoid and mitigate it. To date, the industry has largely ignored these issues even while individual sponsors have voiced concerns. These issues also underline the importance of ISC’s commitment to integrating sustainability and sponsorship. There is risk of brand reputation when a corporation’s sustainability initiatives are in conflict with issues created by sponsorships. If you’re not convinced, pay attention to the executive who takes responsibility for their company’s sustainability program and its success – it’s the CEO.

The ISC is honored to be supported by some of the world’s top corporations in thought-leadership and sustainability including AT&T, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Bridgestone Firestone, The Coca-Cola Company, Coca-Cola Enterprises, FirstRand, MasterCard, McDonald’s, Panasonic, Visa, among others. We are a facilitator of innovation and progress, and we ask you to join and support us in this valuable work.

If we don’t disrupt ourselves as sponsors and an industry, we will be disrupted.

The Sponsorship Industry Needs Disruption

ISC Launching Sus10ability, Platform to Lead and Promote Sustainability With Sponsorship

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The International Sponsor Council is the world trade organization for corporate sponsors. In support of its mission to promote and protect the collective interests of sponsors, the ISC is launching Sus10ability, a platform to promote corporate sustainability programming and to integrate it with sponsorship.

“The ISC works to raise efficiency for the sponsors,” stated ISC CEO and Chief Sustainability Engineer, Terry Cecil. “Corporations are leaders in sustainability. It’s just no one knows it. Sponsorship can change that for sponsors. For most major corporations, there’s a disconnect between sustainability and sponsorship. This has to change. Sustainability and sponsorship could result in increased budgets for sustainability and making rock stars out of sustainability executives. Of course, they need to engage for that to happen.”

Cecil added, “We need to educate the sponsorship industry and fans on sustainability. Internally we consistency on that definition. Sustainability is a formula and too often we are seeing positioning that ignores the economic and social legs. The environmental leg is key and a great opportunity for sponsorship activation, it just doesn’t work alone. As an example, many major issues for the sports industry affecting sponsors involve the social leg. The ISC is focusing on these issues. A few examples include Athlete Doping, CTE, FIFA reform, security and safety, Qatar’s kafala system, among others.

“Brand reputations are at severe risk if sponsorship isn’t aligned with sustainability commitments. In the case of CTE, it’s real Even the NFL admits to it although a few involved in sport are denying it. Any company that has safety as a core value to its brand is in conflict when sponsoring a sport with high incidence of CTE if they aren’t active in supporting both a solution and education on the dangers. “

“There are huge positives to the integration between sustainability and sponsorship including raising industry efficiency of sponsorship, positioning sponsors as relevant and valuable through their respective sustainability programs and ensuring that sponsorship is a positive impact on the world. There may not be a higher calling for our industry and bigger opportunity for sponsors.”

ISC Launching Sus10ability, Platform to Lead and Promote Sustainability With Sponsorship

Alibaba Group Signs Eight-Year Deal with FIFA

Congratulations to FIFA and Alibaba Group on their partnership which will highlight Alibaba E-Auto. This is great news for FIFA and the world of football especially its growth in China. As the world’s largest online and mobile commerce company, Alibaba Group will bring a new perspective and support to the marketing impact of FIFA as well as have a valuable opportunity to work with other FIFA partners in taking a critical lead in the organization’s reform. Job well done by FIFA’s Thierry Weil and team.

Alibaba Group Signs Eight-Year Deal with FIFA

ISC Focusing on Safety Concerns for Industry

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The International Sponsor Council is focusing on safety issues facing the sponsorship industry. There are concerns regarding the preparedness of the industry and its ability to manage incidents targeting events. The ISC has been in discussions with stakeholders and will be holding meetings to increase collaboration and the sharing of information between parties around the world in order to stave off threats of all magnitude.

“This is an issue of paramount importance,” stated Terry Cecil, CEO & Chief Sustainability Officer of the ISC. “We must broaden and facilitate working relationships between sponsors and the industry so that we may most importantly protect lives and at the very least avoid disruption to the world’s events. It’s a major focus for the ISC under its commitment to sustainability and its social leg which includes health and safety. This affects not only fans, but employees, clients, vendors and others. Sponsors want to provide leadership on this issue and work together to provide the greatest possible protection”.

The ISC has partnered with some of the world’s leading security forces including former SEAL Team Six members and is providing services to sponsors as well as other stakeholders involved in the sponsorship industry.

ISC Focusing on Safety Concerns for Industry