An interview with Hollis Sponsorship Awards Barrie Award winner Rob Honeywood
Can you give us a quick insight into your background and what areas you cover in your work...
Rob Honeywood: The role that the department has here at Carat is unusual compared to some other sponsorship agencies at the Hollis Sponsorship Awards because we’re part of a media agency. We’re the department that gets involved when clients’ business needs require we go beyond planning and buying to deliver more bespoke campaigns. My background is more media focused and spans all types of content within media – sport is just one alongside many.
However, I have worked on media partnerships that have amplified sports associations such as Nivea for Men and Team England, Telegraph and The Ashes. We have a large number of clients and I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to work on a large number of campaigns.
How did you decide that the sponsorship area was what you wanted to focus on?
RH: In a way, it was down to luck. When I first applied to Carat there were a number of areas I could choose to apply for such as planning, buying, digital etc. When I saw sponsorship on the list I knew what it was, how it worked, and knew it was the right option for me. And it’s turned out to be my perfect role - it involves project management, organisation and diligence but at the same time it can also be very creative. Every campaign is different, a new experience. There’s a lot of variety - we work with a number of different clients on a number of different projects, utilising every single medium available to us.
Explain some of the challenges that you had in getting your first full time job in this area and how you overcame them.
RH: When I came out of university I spent a while in financial head hunting which I soon realised was a big mistake. That taught me about everything I didn’t want in a role and then made my background look strange when applying at media agencies. Combined with my French and German degree, it gave the impression that I had no inclination towards media and sponsorship. So I then had to prove this wrong. I did this by being able to show a good awareness and understanding of how sponsorship works. I could demonstrate knowledge from a consumer perspective and explain why brands would want to engage in sponsorship activities.
What have been some your career highlights to date?
RH: The Hollis Sponsorship Awards a couple of weeks ago was definitely a highlight as we also won awards for TV and radio sponsorship. They were campaigns I was highly involved in and it was great for the teams for them to be recognised. Most campaigns are a highlight in their own way – I’ve had the opportunity to work on some great partnerships for such a variety of clients, particularly LEGO, NIVEA, Kellogg, Ray-Ban, and now Wickes, to name a few.
I’ve been promoted twice in my time at Carat, so that has always been something that I have been pleased to achieve. It’s also great when we are able to promote other team members – it means a lot to you as their mentor.
What opportunities do you think are out there in the sponsorship sector and what advice do you have for candidates?
RH: I think the whole industry is interesting as there’s such a wide range of skills getting involved from lots of different places. There are many different opportunities and routes into the sector.
Candidates need to be aware of how sponsorship works, how it affects them and why brands would want to get involved in a certain area - it’s not necessarily a secret how it works, it’s often common sense. When we interview for our graduate schemes we often ask what sponsorship campaigns they like and/or why they think the brand has done something in a particular area. It’s a question that many are often not prepared to answer. It helps to get an inclination of their interest in the sector.. Simply having your finger on the pulse of what is going on in your chosen field is half the battle, such as being aware of YouTube crazes or being able to identify why a sport might suddenly have a larger profile and be more commercially interesting after the Olympics. It’s also worth remembering that interviewers/recruiters are seeing lots of candidates for particularly juicy roles, so make sure you enjoy the interview – I think a bit of dynamism makes a better impression than being deadly serious.
What does winning the Barrie Gill Award mean to you?
RH: It means a great deal because I’ve worked at Carat for four and a half years now and I think it’s gone pretty well so far! To be recognised by the interview panel, especially with my largely media background rather than sport – that was a really nice surprise. There were quite a few rounds to get through and the other candidates were really strong, so I still can’t quite believe it.
What’s next for your career?
RH: I’ll be carrying on in my role at Carat. I’m also studying for the IPA Advanced Certificate so I’ll be cracking on with that. That’s the next big thing on the horizon for me.
Apart from that, I’m looking forward to working on more campaigns and getting that eureka moment of piecing it together. It’s about making partnerships for brands that make sense but might also be a surprise at the same time. I’m also determined to add to Carat’s award collection.
In a perfect world, what would be your ideal job?
RH: Within Carat we have an amateur dramatic society and put on yearly plays within the company. I’ve been known in the past for a bit of theatre acting so have always thought that could be quite interesting if I were any good! I also somehow got cast to dance in the Olympics Closing Ceremony which was an unforgettable experience so dancing about on the telly also has quite an appeal.