Sponsorship industry pays tribute as ‘innovator’ Hester passes away
By Simon Ward
Toby Hester, a senior figure in the European sports sponsorship industry, and well known beyond that from his time at prominent brands T-Mobile and Castrol, has died at the age of 57.
Hester (pictured), a long-time board director of the European Sponsorship Association, passed away suddenly on Sunday.
ESA today described him as “an innovator with a wealth of experience” and “larger than life,” adding: “Warm, charismatic and big-hearted, he was an active contributor to the global sponsorship community, always wholeheartedly embracing a challenge with his customary energy, dynamism and creativity.”
Hester rose to prominence first as head of sponsorship at T-Mobile from 1997 to 2007, working on programmes for soccer’s Uefa European Championships, Fifa World Cup and England team and the T-Mobile cycling team and Jaguar Formula 1 team.
He was subsequently global head of sponsorship for Castrol from 2007 to 2015, leading the motor oil company’s activation of events such as Euro 2008 and Euro 2012 and the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, and acting as an internal consultant for other events sponsored by the brand and its parent BP such as the London 2012 Olympic Games and Cricket World Cup.
For the last four years Hester had focused on Sponsorship Coach, a consultancy he founded and managed to train rights-holders, agencies and brands to maximise the value of sponsorship and brand partnerships.
In the early part of his career, Hester represented British athletes as commercial manager of Athole Still International Management and owner of American Football Promotions before spells at sponsorship agencies Jardine PR and Karen Earl Sponsorship.
He was respected throughout the industry for his service to ESA, of which he had been a board director for 18 years, and was a regular speaker and attendee at sponsorship industry events.
Paying tribute today, ESA chair Andy Westlake said: “Toby has always been such a passionate advocate for the work we do at ESA and his long tenure on the board is testament to the amazing contribution he’s made.
“He brought his many years’ experience to bear as we seek to build the association, and his honest counsel will be missed by all of us on the board.”
Karen Earl, the ESA chair from 2007 to 2017, added: "Toby’s passion for the sponsorship industry was infectious. Both colleague and client to so many people, his enthusiasm never dimmed. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him and worked with him.”
In a memorial on the ESA website, Joel Seymour-Hyde, the head of sponsorship agency Octagon UK, said: “As a fellow ESA board member I loved working with Toby. He was one of the good guys, with a big heart and total commitment to making the industry better. He challenged and pushed in every meeting to make this happen.”
Hester is survived by a wife and young daughter.