Entrepreneur takes fresh approach Viz. sponsorship

Ling Valentine's novel approach to marketing clearly applies to sponsorship deals too...

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

Regular MT readers may remember Ling Valentine, the entrepreneur behind Ling’s Cars, whose remarkable website we wrote about last week. In our ongoing attempts to bring our browsing habits into the 21st century, we’ve been having a good look around her site – and couldn’t resist bringing you news of one of the more unusual sponsorship tie-ups we’ve seen...

Ling has signed a deal with Viz, the rather rude comic that your Mum probably didn’t like you reading as a teenager. In the latest issue, she appears as herself in the comic strip ‘Billy the Fish’ (the half-man, half-fish who plays in goal for Fulchester United) as the team’s new sponsor. It’s not the first time that real people have shown up in cartoons (Spandau Ballet and DJ Simon Mayo rather bafflingly turned up in ‘Roy of the Rovers’, while Shakin’ Stevens and Mick Hucknall have both featured in ‘Billy the Fish’), but Ling has gone for a typically unusual approach...

In the story, Viz has her holding the chairman hostage with a Chinese nuclear missile, demanding that a massive advertising hoarding featuring her website address be put up in front of one of the stands. The dialogue includes the chairman confessing to the manager: ‘I’m scared, Tommy, she’s absolutely mental,’ and the piece signs off: ‘Is Rick Spangle really about to get his life taken away by a Chinese nutjob?’ Not exactly the flattering coverage that most sponsors would expect in exchange for their backing...

Still, Viz took a similarly daft approach to a sponsorship deal with betNOW last year. And clearly Ling doesn’t mind too much – after all, she now signs her emails as ‘The OFFICIAL Business Ambassador to Viz Magazine: the only mentally unstable, ethnic minority North East entrepreneur to represent Viz's interests in the wider business community’ (which seems pretty indisputable to us, as titles go).

Now you may think this is just Ling being her usual zany self – she’s a big believer in using humour to raise profile, which we reckon is great (and judging by the fact that she’s apparently enjoying a record year for car hires, it seems to be working for her). But it also raises an interesting question about the way sponsorship deals are done today. In a world where corporate sponsorship is everywhere, does the sponsor really get enough bang for their buck just by plastering their logo on something? Or are we so immune to corporate branding these days that it takes something mould-breaking and unusual like this to grab our attention?

Watch this space: the corporate titans of UK plc could be dreaming up inventive tie-ups with Roger Mellie, Sid the Sexist and Finbarr Saunders even as we speak...

In today's bulletin:
Sales rebound - but retailers want more
Persimmon sees something to build on
UK leads the way in leadership
How intrapreneurs can change the world
Entrepreneur takes fresh approach Viz. sponsorship

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