Associating a business with high-profile activities through sponsorship is a key form of promotional activity.  For example, sponsoring an event enables a company to get wider exposure for their brand, develop good PR and take on the credibility of the activity.

Sponsorship may take different routes and forms.  Kia Motors is relatively new to the UK car market but aims to grow its market share.  It views sponsorship as a major element of its promotional plan.  In order to increase awareness and create positive perceptions of the brand, the company has aligned the Kia name with long-term, high-profile sports events. These include sponsorship of the Oval, the famous cricket ground in London, and sponsorship of the FIFA world cup finals.

Barclays Bank is looking at a different form of sponsorship by offering £1m to groups that want to set up free schools, as well as investing £15m in expanding the money management courses it runs already runs in some schools.  Barclays will provide free banking to new free schools and academies in order to help get them off the ground.  The offer will also include the opportunity of work experience for 3,000 pupils aged 16 to 18 from academies and free schools.  (BBC, 18th January 2012)

The chief executive of Barclays Retail and Business Banking, Antony Jenkins, said: ‘It’s a sizeable commitment.  Barclays is supporting free schools and academies because we want to boost financial skills for young people.’  Mr Jenkins also said that it was important to give young people real experience in the world of work, not just ‘tidying up the photocopying room and making coffee for people’.

Academies and free schools are key parts of changes the coalition government has brought in.  They are state-funded but with more freedom over the curriculum and teachers’ pay and conditions than other schools.  A total of 24 free schools opened in September 2011 and 71 more are due to open from September 2012.

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