SAP Hires Momentum as Global Sponsorship AOR After 20-Agency Pitch

New Appointment Ends 16-Year Relationship With Omnicom's GMR Marketing

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German Bundesliga football club TSG 1899 Hoffenheim is using the latest sensor-based technology combined with in-memory platform SAP HANA to improve player potential.
German Bundesliga football club TSG 1899 Hoffenheim is using the latest sensor-based technology combined with in-memory platform SAP HANA to improve player potential. Credit: Courtesy SAP

SAP selected Interpublic Group's Momentum Worldwide as its global sponsorship AOR following an RFP that started out with 20 agencies.

Once the initial 20 shops were whittled down to seven, the database software company decided to send some staffers into each of the agencies' offices to see them in action for half a day, said Bonnie Rothenstein, VP-marketing communications for global sponsorships at SAP.

During the visits, each agency started out with traditional meetings in which they talked about their strengths, but then "it went into a completely different direction" at Momentum, said Ms. Rothenstein. SAP met with the shop's chief technology officer and analytics team and saw some of what Momentum has built for clients in-house, such as its active virtual reality experience for American Express that launched at the U.S. Open last summer, she said.

"When we select a partner in general it's very important that there's a clear focus on technology showcase and not showing what others have done before, but providing thought leadership with how we're building our solution set," said Bjoern Ganzhorn, head of global sponsorships at SAP.

Mr. Ganzhorn said the company wants to thank GMR for its "longstanding support and contribution to our business for the last 16 years." Representatives from GMR were not immediately available for comment.

SAP wants to make sure it "takes sponsorships to the next level" by making them more like partnerships and moving from logos and signage to offering authentic experiences and solutions, said Mr. Ganzhorn. For example, in 2013, SAP partnered with the German Football Association and provided it with custom technology to enhance preparation and on-field performance. The German National Team went on to win the Football World Championship in 2014.

Some of SAP's sponsorships have included the NBA, Cirque du Solei, the Washington International Horse Show, the ICC Cricket World Cup and the Super Bowl.

Momentum is tasked with supporting SAP with strategy, vision, measurement and evaluation, event activation and technology. The shop will also create video and content at sponsorship events that will live on digital, social and internal SAP channels, said Ms. Rothenstein, adding that the goal is to engage a variety of audiences, from consumers to IT professionals.

All other SAP agency relationships remain the same, including BBDO as lead creative agency, Fleishman for PR, Right Formula for Formula 1 sports marketing and PHD on media.

Aside from stating that SAP is "looking for a long-term partner," Mr. Ganzhorn did not reveal any contract or budget information on the account.

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