Andy Westlake was named in November 2023 as the fifth recipient of the ESA Fellowship. In this Q&A, Andy reflects both on the individual honour and the changing nature of the sponsorship industry during his years of service.
How do you feel being recognised with the ESA Fellowship?
There’s no other way to feel apart from immensely proud! I’ve worked in the sponsorship industry for over 30 years and it’s a business I love. That’s why I so willingly and enthusiastically gave my time to support the European Sponsorship Association’s work back in 2014. To have served as Chair for six years was an enormous honour and to now be recognised as an ESA Fellow really is the icing on the cake. I’m really delighted to be recognised in this way and look forward to many more years supporting the work of ESA.
What have been the most profound changes in sponsorship during your career?
The most profound change has been the place that sponsorship now has at the top table amongst senior marketing decision-makers. Back in the 1990s sponsorship was often a function that sat separately from other divisions, quietly getting on with worrying about placement of perimeter boards, securing a few column inches in The Sun and making sure the right people had the right tickets on match day!
Today we see a sponsorship landscape that is truly integrated across all business functions. Marketing leaders oversee the activation but every other divisional head will be tasked with squeezing value out of the partnership. The digital world has also been a profound change in my career. When I started at Capital Radio we relied on telephone and fax – email and mobiles were a twinkle in the eye of business. How times have changed in one generation!
On the flip side what are the constants that make the industry remain strong across Europe?
The constant is the relationship that fans have with the past times that they love. Sponsorship has always allowed, and will always allow, brands to build stronger, deeper and more enduring relationships with consumers by adding value to their passions in a way that helps them sell more stuff to more people more often!
The way those relationships are communicated has changed but the essence of sponsorship – the silver bullet that our industry trades on – hasn’t changed at all.
Who have been your role models / sources of inspiration in the industry and why?
I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside some brilliant people in my career so far (and it’s still going) but let me maybe pick two!
As a role model it’s Alan Pascoe, who was my big boss at Fast Track and someone I still call a friend today. He was a brilliant, dynamic force in our industry who is known to so many and he was certainly one of the driving forces that made Fast Track such a success.
I would also name-check my friend and colleague at Reg&Co, Karen Morris, as an inspiration. Karen set up on her own 20 years ago and has been running a successful business, in a few different guises, ever since. I’ve loved being back together with Karen – having worked with her in commercial radio – as a Director at Reg&Co and the business is stronger than ever.
There are tons of others that I could choose but I’ll leave it there for now!