The following is the introduction to my senior thesis. While I would love to share the entire project, the bulk is a series of interviews I conducted for academic purposes and therefore can’t publish them! With under thirty days until graduation, this chapter is quickly coming to a close. Hopefully, this excerpt is a bit of insight into why I’ve chosen the direction I have as it relates to careers. For more on that though, read this post.
Before I even knew what a partnership was, I was already thinking about ways brands and celebrities could come together. I remember sitting in the car with my mom one day in the prime of my Jonas Brothers craze thinking of ways she could get them to come and perform at a conference for her company at the time. Nick was very out and open about having Diabetes and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) was being honored at the conference she was putting together. Not only that, Red Bull was a brand that had space at the meeting and they had just come out with a sugar free version. I was maybe 12 years-old and point blank told my mom that JDRF should bring Nick to perform and Red Bull could foot the bill. The idea didn’t come to fruition – I didn’t understand the idea of a planning schedule and that you typically wouldn’t hire talent a week prior to the event – but I saw a similar event come together down the line and knew I was onto something.
In learning more and more about what partnerships are, however, I’ve come to realize that maybe that wasn’t the first time I was exposed to them. The American Heritage Dictionary defines a partnership as “a relationship between individuals or groups that is characterized by mutual cooperation and responsibility, as for the achievement of a specified goal.” Think about it; any time you have worked with at least one other person towards a common goal, you’ve entered into a partnership. It might be a stretch, but those times when you couldn’t even talk and mom was trying to feed you in a high chair, you formed a partnership because mom or dad was trying to feed you and you wanted food – common goal: get the child to eat.
We go through life forming not only business partnerships but also personal ones. They help us to grow and achieve more than could be done alone. In the past few years, I’ve seen a change in the phrase “corporate sponsorship” to “corporate partnership”. In part due to a passion for understanding, I wanted to speak to an eclectic group of individuals who make some of these partnerships happen and / or benefit from the deals done. As will be discussed in depth further, brands are now looking for partners who want more than just the money – though this is still a large part. Similarly, teams, leagues and properties are looking for brands who share in their values and can help enhance the experience of fans rather than just a way to make some money and fill some dead logo space.