I wrote this piece a while ago for this book called Defining Sponsorship - you can buy it off Amazon.
It was put together by an agency called Red Mandarin - they are, as the sharpest among you will have already guessed, a sponsorship agency.
My piece was called: And now a word from our patrons...
Because I think knowing the history of advertising [or whatever you do] is important, it starts with the fact that back in the day all advertising was sponsorship, and that even further back in an earlier day, we called that patronage.
Ancient Athenians would put up the funding for cultural and sporting events to make them accessible to the common man. In return they would get their name in stone. The tradition of patronage transcends culture and time; it has operated throughout history as the primary mechanism by which culture has been supported.
Royalty and aristocracy would provide patronage, for a combination of altruistic and image reasons, that allowed art to be created and events for the masses to happen. The nature of this commercial relationship was culturally defined – it was never a simple commercial transaction – and the impact a patron had on the work or event was equally prescribed by convention.
It was, for want of a better word, subtler than simply sticking your name on something. A patron’s taste and sophistication and grace were being reflected in how the patronage would manifest, not just their money.
Today, brands provide patronage, but often forget that it’s not just their money that should be evident.
You can read the rest of it here:
More recently though, my mate Jared wrote a post on sponsorship which I think addresses some of the same points but is more useful and less historical, so perhaps go and read that instead.