Sponsorship of a government entity is avery tricky issue, with many greay areas to be negotiated. For starters, we (The Silver Falcons) are
very limited in what we can "give back" to a sponsor due to the fact that we are funded by tax payer's money and part of a very complicated
structure of command and control. Therefore we do not have authority over equipment and personnel. As such, we would not be able to fulfill many
of the requirements a sponsor may have for an aerobatic team. For example, some of the things that may tipically be expected, and which we are definitely
not able to do include:
- Branding of the aircraft or any part of government issued uniform.
- Flying a display for the company Christmas party, product launch, etc.
- Promissing a "flip" to clients or company employees, or any civilian (this could be motivated, but at this stage it is incredibly difficult to arrange)
- Being associated with any marketing which would suggest that the team is "dependent" on a particular service provided by that company, e.g. "preferred
supplier to the South African Air Force" (in the case of clothing company).
- The team can also not guarantee that we will be performing at any particular event, as there are many factors that could influence our participation.
- Most importantly, the team cannot enter into any type of "contract", as this would then obligate the team to perform / achieve against
conditions and, as stipulated above, we do not have control or influence over our equipment and movements. This is determined at Air Force, and sometimes
National, level and we have to abbide by those instructions.
This would appear to paint a rather bleak and one-sided picture with regard to a partnership between the team and a civilian individual or company. For this
reason the team is seking individuals and companies who share in our passion and vision for the team and the SAAF as a whole, and who are prepared to act, in a
sense, as "patrons" of the Silver Falcons.
Despite the restrictions, the team still fels confident that we have a lot to offer a potential sponsor and with some "out of the box" thinking,
a partnership with the team could prove very beneficial to a company or individual. Depending on the product or service being offered by the respective
entity, a mere association with the Silver Falcons may be enough to increase productivity.
Other ways in which a potential sponsor could maximize their investment in the team could include:
- Branding / Advertising:: This is particularly the case with the Team Apparel and Mechandise Stall endeavours. While we may not brand our aircraft
or government issued items, we can brand any other non-issue items of kit which could include the stall and all the Team Apparel items mentioned in
"Sponsorship". From an advertising perspective, airshows attract up to 150 000 people (in the case of bigger shows)
and more importantly, bring people from all walks of life and sometimes more remote areas of the country. In addition to this, there are all the photographs
that are taken of the events which end up in magazines and newspapers, and maybe even more signigicantly nowadays, all over Facebook, Twitter and
other social media sites. In some case there is also television coverage, as was the casewith the 2011 Durban Air Show, which aired on Supersport a
number of times during September 2011. The team also has our own
Twitter feed and
Youtube / Video channel
which extends our global reach.
- Team Interaction:: In certain instances it could be in a sponsor's interest to have the team members interact with their clients etc. As this would be
in the individual's personal time, it would be easier to arrange than something involving the aircraft and flying. Another idea in the same light would be to
arrange a VIP marqe at a particular air show with catering etc. (similar to a suite at rugby) where interested clients and employees could come and see the
shows in style. The invited guests would then have exclusive access to the team in between displays.
- Brand Ambassadors:: This term has becom increaingly popular over the last few years. The concept being that if your product is a lifestyle item
that is used in the aviation industry, it would make sense to have individuals (or a team in our case) who are well known in that niche market, wearing or using
the product. A good example of this would be a sunglass manufacturer supplying the team with sunglasses, which will be worn by the whle team and therefore
achieve both the team goals (uniformity and prefessionalism) and serve as an advertising platform for the company, merely by wearing their product.
In the case of Team Apparel, it would be to a sponsor's best interes to commit to a long term (3 years or more) partnership as this would help spread the
initial capital outlay over a longer period. The reason is that, initially, it will cost more money to get all the team members (25 including the ground crew
and air crew) up to the same standard as everything will be a "first issue". After this however, it will reduce to a mere fraction of the cost as
there are very few team member changes each year and therefore it will only be necessary to supply 3 - 5 new members per year with the same kit as
the rest of the team.