In addition to the financial and strategic support we sought from national, regional and local government, attracting commercial partners and sponsors was critical to the success of Copenhagen 2021.
By combining WorldPride with EuroGames, Copenhagen 2021 promised to be the most significant LGBTI+ event held anywhere globally in 2021. By becoming a partner or sponsor, businesses and organisations were given the opportunity to show their support for the LGBTI+ community, employees and customers or clients.
The offer to Partners and Sponsors
The first step in securing partners and sponsors for Copenhagen 2021 was to set a financial target. This was calculated as a percentage of our total budget and agreed by the City of Copenhagen as a condition of their funding. This amount then allowed us to identify how many partners and sponsors we aim to enlist. We assessed assets that we were likely to be able to offer partners, for example presence on our website and exposure on our social media channels, physical branding during the event and access to the WorldPride Marches, concerts or other events.
We then engaged Kuanhsi, an agency specializing in corporate partnerships to advise on a structure that would be appealing to potential partners, and deliverable by us. We subsequently developed a tiered structure as below:
Main Official Partner
This was the highest level of sponsorship. This gave partners a degree of exclusivity within their sector and included all assets with the highest exposure at each touchpoint. There would be a limited number of Main Official Partners and it allowed the corporate partner to design certain elements of the partnership and build a full activation around it.
Our next level gave the Official Partner most of the benefits of being a Main Official Partner at a slightly smaller cost but included brand exposure and full use of our rights. This was ideal for companies that wanted to commit but for one reason or another could not quite stretch to the headline level.
The ‘buy in’ tier of Sponsor was designed to give limited brand exposure and use of our rights but did allow them to be a formal partner and engage with our audience in an authentic way.
Media partnerships were negotiated and agreed by the Communications Team. (See section 12).
For brands that wanted to release an official product as part of the event and/or license our brand, these varied in size but usually included an upfront fee and then a royalty based on the total sales of the products.
For non-profit, civil society and government institutions.
The base level that gave limited access to our logo, placement on the website and the option to purchase space in the WorldPride Marches.
We then identified the different sectors and targeted specific businesses and organisations to approach. Some of these were from previous involvement in the Pride movement, or were already active in engaging with LGBTI+ rights. We employed partnership specialists to go out and sell to these targets on a commission basis, as part of the deal they would complete all contract negotiations and hand over the client once the agreement was in place.
Activating Partners and Sponsors
A Project Manager was responsible for liaison with all partners and sponsors and for activating their partnerships. This generally began with an introductory meeting prior to an activation plan being developed which detailed activations across digital and social media, announcements and PR activity, and physical activations during the event.
A comprehensive Activation Guide was published in April to provide information to partners and sponsors on the responsibilities on each side, and what material we needed from them, and when.
Partner networking events were held each month at hotels and other supportive venues around the city, where partners and sponsors could come together, network, and meet with key members of the Copenhagen 2021 team. Some Main Official Partners and Official Partners also had regular catch-up meetings to assess progress.
All potential partners and sponsors were measured against our Ethics Policy and approved by the board of Happy Copenhagen. The Policy states:
We will not enter into partnership or sponsorship arrangements with companies who:
- Manufacture or promote tobacco products
- Manufacture or sell weapons or arms unless they are manufactured solely for recreational purposes (i.e. sport shooting) and subject to controlled sale to avoid their purchase by individuals, regimes or organisations with malintent
- Promote alcohol in a way that does not meet standards set by the Danish government in relation to consumption, advertising, marketing and age of sale
- Manufacture products in countries where homosexuality is illegal unless the company has a stated policy and provides support to LGBTI+ advocacy organisations in that country
- Financially, verbally or in any other way support regimes or organisations that violate human rights
- Directly or indirectly violate the European Convention on Human Rights or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- Directly or indirectly violate recognised international treaties or standards on the protection of the environment
- Engage in unethical profiteering schemes or lending practices that target those with a low socio-economic status
The ongoing impact of the pandemic led to many partners and sponsors coming on board in the last few weeks and months before the event, and on one occasion we received strong feedback from the community in relation to one multinational corporate that we were bringing on board as a sponsor. By mutual agreement with that sponsor we cancelled the agreement, and issued an apology. The circumstances of this individual case will be a learning point for the parent organisations in the future.
MATE.bike supplied us with multiple products for competitions and giveaways. They produced three branded ‘hero’ bikes to be used by Copenahgen 2021 to raise awareness of the event, ran competitions across multiple channels – social media, volunteers, instant ‘on the day’ wins, EuroGames athletes. Pop up test ride events at various locations during Copenhagen 2021.
LEGO – Everyone is Awesome
LEGO adapted a well known phrase from the LEGO movie “Everything is awesome” to produce a collectible set celebrating the LGBTI+ community. LEGO also facilitated an activity at our venue for children, Rainbow Children @ BLOX, called “Build the Change” which ties into a much bigger campaign. LEGO also donated signed copies of the LEGO set to the Copenhagen 2021 charity auction.
hummel were a Main Official Partner with exclusivity on apparel. They produced a branded clothing line that sold through their stores and through Copenhagen 2021 channels. Their marketing activations highlighted personal stories of LGBTI+ people within sport. hummel also produced hummel-branded volunteer clothing across the whole event for maximum brand association
The #FromFlüggerWithLove concept invites everyone to ‘report’ hateful graffiti in public spaces by photographing it and posting it on social media with the hashtag #FromFlüggerWithLove. Danish company Flügger then contacts the local authority and draws attention to the problem. If the local authority so wishes, Flügger covers the hateful graffiti with something beautiful, fun and colourful. #FromFlüggerWithLove was one of several initiatives Flügger presented as one of the main sponsors of Copenhagen 2021: others included the rainbow crossing painted on Vester Voldgade adjacent to WorldPride Square.
In support of our commitment to sustainability, we opted not to produce a broad range of merchandise but to focus instead on a few high quality pieces that embodied our brand with a nod to the quality and style for which Danish design has become renowned.
We produced and sold a metal pin badge, a hand painted representation of our logo, together with a high quality cotton shopping bag, and a cotton support wristband that was sold at venues across the city and which unlocked special deals and discounts. Our merchandise stalls also sold a range of Copenhagen Pride-related merchandise.
In addition, our main official partner hummel produced a wide range of official clothing products on which they had exclusivity; on several occasions we took action to remove unauthorised products from sale on print-on-demand websites. Several of our product partners also produced special Copenhagen 2021 products, including Equality Coffee from Peter Larsen Kaffe, a range of rainbow PANTONE™ products from Copenhagen Design, and a rainbow version of Martin Schwartz’s iconic Copenhagen poster and postcard.
We developed decoration boxes to enable local businesses to show their support for Copenhagen 2021 by purchasing balloons, flags and other decorations from us, rather than from retailers that do not contribute to the event. These were warmly received and over 300 boxes were sold.