It’s a story that delivers goose bumps instantly to fans and followers of Darmstadt 98 and its characterizing fan Jonathan Heimes (Johnny)

With the claim “Du must kämpfen, es ist noch nichts verloren” (“You have to fight, nothing is lost yet”) Johnny not only collected money for a cancer foundation, he also inspired his team to find its way from 3rd league into the German Bundesliga.

Fighting cancer successfully multiple times, he led by example and showed, what it really means to bounce back. In March 2016 Johnny died, but left a lasting legacy. Under former coach Dirk Schuster and his team, his spirit became and continues to be part of the DNA of Darmstadt 98. Being a club with limited budget & resources, old but iconic stadium and truly dedicated staff, Johnny is always in their mind, when it seems impossible to compete in the German top tier.

They need every single sponsorship euro to keep the dream alive. Fortunate enough Darmstadt 98 is backed by two major companies located in the city: Merck Pharmaceuticals & Software AG. Budgets for some obvious reasons might not reach the average of the league, but the partners are the ones with the right mindset to support the club on its journey just started.

Both probably never saw their main objective in huge visibility in the media but more to present themselves as employers who care about the local community.

The action taken now is an example how you can use sponsorship in the most positive way. Forget about the logos, forget about visibility, forget about anything you would normally look at as a sponsor.

Creating an example by supplying the name of the stadium for a whole season and the front of shirt sponsorship for a game day to support Johnny’s foundation and to raise money for its purpose, creates value for both brands and the club itself, without any logo visible.

The story will connect both companies to people & fan base in Darmstadt, drive awareness and influence a positive image for themselves & club across the country in the best possible way.

Generating pride among employees (current & future) it’s going to inspire many more activities and projects for people in need. I’m convinced that Johnnys spirit will find its way into the DNA of the companies as well. Is there a value for that?

Showing effect for the foundation for a long time it, it truly honors Johnny, and generates return on a key objective, which all three parties have in common: Help for people who fight for their lives every day!

This amazing example shows a key strength of sponsorship when connecting with corporate responsibility activities. With common goals you can multiply the value for all involved and make a real difference.

By Andreas Knupfer, September 8, 2016