Member of the Executive MScom faculty since 1999 and Lecturer of Sponsoring and Marketing Strategy
Teaching the complex topic of Sponsorship and Partnership Strategies to communications professionals while simultaneously maintaining a career in the same field is both a challenge and a reward for Patrick Cotting, Director of Marketing and Sales for Switzerland, the Netherlands and Austria with the pan-European media company, Eurosport.
“When I joined the EMScom faculty in 1999, I was finishing my Ph.D. on the topic of sponsorship and also working full-time for Credit Suisse. EMScom gave me an opportunity to keep one foot in the academic world and one in private industry,” said Cotting, who graduated with distinction with a Ph.D. in Business Economics and Sociology from Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria, and earned his Master in Business Economics from the University of Fribourg. “For me, EMScom is a bridge between theory, the academic world, and top business management.”
In his work with Eurosport, Cotting consults on a regular basis with global businesses such as Swatch, UBS, Longines, Nespresso, Tommy Hilfiger, ING, Procter & Gamble and others on pan-European campaigns and sports marketing across a variety of media, ranging from television and mobile services to the internet. Though Cotting’s broad experience includes strategic planning with the sponsorship department at Credit Suisse where he developed and implemented a new controlling system and cultivated new sponsorship models and contracts with the Swiss Football Association, the FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup, MSN and others, he refused to sit back and allow his professional credentials speak for themselves.
“In 1999, I was 29 years old and by far the youngest professor on EMScom faculty, so I knew that I was about nine years younger than the average EMScom student. In that respect, I felt that I had to put forth much more effort than some of the other faculty in order to justify my position,” he explained with good humor. “But it’s been good for me to put so much into my EMScom work because my course is now cutting edge.”
‘A constant challenge’
Cotting said the high caliber of students drawn to EMScom is a reward in itself.
“The students constantly challenge me to stay ahead of them, to invest every year in staying current. I’m a competitive person, and part of that comes from my involvement with the Swiss National Shooting Team, where I’ve held 20 national titles,” he said. “So I know the self-discipline required to teach in EMScom and to be an EMScom student. It’s a constant challenge.
”In an ever-changing global business environment, Cotting believes it’s essential for up and coming executives to educate themselves about the complexities of sponsorships and partnerships from a strategic perspective.
Tricks of the trade
“The big international sponsorships don’t involve just a few hundred thousand francs or dollars, but up to hundreds of millions of dollars. Executives need to know what they’re getting into before they become actively involved in these partnerships,” he said. “Negotiation is very much a part of the sponsorship environment, and my course also explores how to negotiate, what the tricks are and how you can determine a justifiable price level.”
The constantly changing media landscape brings another dimension to sponsorships, he said.
“Since EMScom started, the media industry has evolved tremendously with the advent of new platforms like mobility, the Internet and digital TV, and new approaches to editorial partnerships with media companies,” Cotting said. “With so many sponsorships and partnerships out there in the media, it’s easy for consumers to become accustomed to seeing sponsors at events or even to stop noticing the sponsors. When consumers don’t notice the sponsors, this devalues the process, and we have to constantly be aware of these challenges.”
‘A special program’
In his eight years with EMScom, Cotting has found that there’s not another course which approaches what EMScom offers.
“EMScom is for people who want to work in a multinational environment, and there are a lot of these companies in Switzerland; almost every non-service sector company here is multinational, in fact,” he said. “There is no other institution in Switzerland, and probably worldwide, that can prepare professionals as adequately as EMScom for an executive level communications career, because none of the other courses available have the executive management and strategic emphasis of EMScom. This is really a special program.”
Cotting said his challenge is to continue bringing fresh and useful perspectives to the program.
“I’m not doing this for the career benefits, per se, but I’ve definitely benefited from the relationships, networks and building of a reputation as an educator,” he said. “Personally, my goal is to continue bringing something new and fresh to the students, so that each course is current and dynamic.”
Text based on interview carried out in July 2005.