Brand Partnerships

Panel Members:

Sarah Batters, Director of Partnerships and Marketing – Southampton FC
Anthony Douglass, Legal Director, Intellectual Property, Data Protection, Marketing & Digital Strategy – Specsavers
Richard Barnwell, Head of Partnerships – Yolo Group (

What makes a good brand partnership?

Richard Barnwell detailed Yolo’s involvement in football. “We partnered with Watford FC and are a crypto first company and do a lot of work on the blockchain. We put the bitcoin logo on the Watford shirt sleeve.”

“We’re quite a unique industry, gaming with blockchain technology. We like long term partnerships. We need to know that our partner has some interest in the technology we’re working in.”

Yolo are currently in partnership with Southampton FC. Sarah Batters agreed that Southampton and Yolo are a good fit. “Shared values, our ownership group – a sports tech company, your company, and Southampton as a brand.”

“Everything we do is to ask ‘what are we doing for our fans’. Everything is for the benefit of the fans. What is the next technical development that brings fan engagement?”

“We’ve just done our second bitcoin hunt, partnering that could change the life of one of our fans. Yolo are sponsors of our Foundation.”

Anthony Douglass explained how Specsavers have adapted their strategy. He said they are in a period of recalibration that is reflected in a different style of sponsorship, and what their brand messaging needs to look like.

“Specsavers is a very aspirational brand. Historically, we’ve done a lot more than we do today. A few years ago it was the County championship up to the Ashes. Local stores have a lot of autonomy to engage with their local communities.”

“There is a definite need to re-engage with sport at a grass roots level.”

He referenced Specsavers needing to reach a younger demographic so they sponsored a charity match involving the YouTubers Sidemen that has now had over 54 million views.

They engaged with Cavaliers FC ‘the worst team in the country’ who asked for some help. They put together a YouTube channel. “It’s about accessibility.”

“You have to engage with the right sort of influencers.”