Paul Samuels was named on 9 March 2023 as one of the four inaugural recipients of the ESA Fellowship. In this Q&A, Paul reflects both on the individual honour and the changing nature of the sponsorship industry during his years of service.
How do you feel to be selected as one of the inaugural ESA Fellows?
It is a great honour to be nominated by your peers for such a prestigious accolade. In my role as Executive Vice President for Global Partnerships at AEG Europe, I’m lucky to lead an incredible team of people and work with world-leading brands – and after dedicating nearly 25 years of my life to this industry, it is wonderful to be recognised amongst some very talented individuals.
What have been the most profound changes in sponsorship during your career?
The evolution of sponsorship from a badging exercise to an integrated marketing platform is remarkable. Once seen as a ‘nice-to-do’ or a chairman’s whim, partnerships are now seen as an essential part of the marketing mix, with a ROI that goes far beyond the financial. Most sponsorships now have a wider purpose, designed to enhance consumers’ best days, drive brand preference and loyalty, build towards ESG objectives and support their communities.
One of the greatest changes within the sector is the increase in diversity – although there is still a long way to go. At AEG now, we are working with a diverse range of people, industries and companies, who are all dedicated to delivering the best quality events for the most people.
On the flipside what are the constants that make the industry remain strong across Europe?
Consumers’ passion for music, entertainment and sport is unwavering – and it allows the industry to continue to grow. As appetite for different types of events grows, driven by evolving or emerging sports, grassroots communities, the development of live music via world class venues and the passion for music festivals across different genres, we gain new opportunities to create exciting brand partnerships. The more those partnerships elevate consumers’ experiences, the more they love live events – and the cycle continues.
Who have been your role models / sources of inspiration in the industry and why?
I have been fortunate to work for AEG for 17 years, and the people that I work with, from leadership to peers, keep me engaged and inspire me each day. Working with the best people in the industry – forward-thinking, dedicated and fun – drives me to keep pushing our business forward.
The team at O2 who backed me in 2004 when I first suggested the idea of taking on the naming rights for The O2 gave me the opportunity of a lifetime, and their open-mindedness and support is something I’ve taken with me throughout my career. That team, and every member of O2 who have worked on this iconic project since, have made me who I am.