- By Alex Bidwell
Sports sponsorship is a dynamic industry that offers brands the opportunity to engage with an aligned audience that is passionate and loyal, creating possibilities for brands to increase their audience reach, sales and improve their public image.
Sports sponsorship allows for a multi-faceted marketing approach, ranging from stadium marketing assets to on-shirt to social media collaborations. Great B2B opportunities are also afforded through sports sponsorship, as the incentive of VIP access at live sports events can be a great motivator for individuals within your own company, as well as offering a memorable experience to share with clients.
Sports are entertainment. They are exciting, engaging and moving. Through associating your brand with a sports property, you too can elicit these emotions from their defined fanbase.
The advantages and benefits of sports sponsorship are endless so choosing the most suitable sports sponsorship opportunity for your brand is therefore crucial.
There are various factors to consider when deciding upon which sports property to sponsor. The reach of the sports property, largely influenced by television coverage, is a great starting point which allows you to gauge an initial idea as to whether or not your brand operates, and is successful, in a similar location to the sport.
The Premier League was watched by over 3 billion people globally in 2018/19 and therefore the most suitable partners for Premier League teams are brands that have a global presence and want to maintain that position, for example Manchester United’s partners include the global brands Chevrolet and TagHeuer.
Understanding a sports property’s fan base is also essential when trying to ascertain where your sponsorship money is best spent. Sports properties will likely have harvested useful data about their audience which gives them a clear picture of the demographic of their fanbase, what products they like, what content they interact with on social media and so on. For example, the America’s Cup, an elite yacht sailing competition steeped in history and prestige is partnered with Prada and G.H. Mumm Champagne, two brands that appeal to the demographic that watch the sport.
A sports property’s social media presence is another important factor to consider when choosing a sports property to sponsor, as 98% of sports marketers choose social media as their preferred method to fully leverage sponsorships. Do they have an active profile on social media? Do they do collaborations with their other sponsors on their social media? These are just a few questions relating to social media one must consider before concluding if a sponsorship is worthwhile. The PGA Tour, for example, often do posts on social media in partnership with their sponsors, such as Bridgestone.
Public image is one thing brands must also be aware of when entering into sports sponsorship. When you enter into sports sponsorship you enter into a partnership and therefore you want to ensure that those you align with are held in high regard by the public. Allegations against sports properties of corruption, cheating, or discrimination are terrible for your brand and doing a thorough background check and risk assessment of potential sports properties to determine the likelihood of these instances, can go a long way. The IAAF’s doping scandal in 2016 is testament to the importance of sports properties being clean as once the doping scandal was uncovered, Adidas had no choice but to terminate the sponsorship contract three years early to maintain their own public image. The recent reports that Everton and Aston Villa have seen shirt sales increase by 60% and 50% respectively, since dropping betting sponsors, is further proof of the benefits of a good public image for both brands and sports properties.
The core values of your brand should also be influencing your decision of who to sponsor. If your brand is rooted in sustainability and innovation then it is essential to align with a sports property that is committed to those things, for example through efforts to offset carbon emissions or create new ways for fans to engage with them. The aligning of core values between sports properties and brands goes a long way, as the most successful sponsorships are those with perceived transparency.
As mentioned in Sports Sponsorship: 6 things to consider, the length of the sponsorship, how the sponsorship fits into your brand’s commercial and marketing objectives, and the budget must also be considered before deciding on who to sponsor.