• Van Hawke Sports

How do sports sponsorships work?

By Alex Bidwell

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Sports sponsorships are a form of affinity marketing, that allow a brand to be embedded into a product that the consumer has a strong connection with. Sports sponsorship helps promote any type of brand of any size.

The process of creating a sports sponsorship partnership aims to bring the brand and rights holder together over shared goals, allowing them to negotiate a mutually beneficial sports sponsorship agreement and deliver true value for both sides. So how does the sports sponsorship process work and what should brands be aware of?

Understand the market

Before venturing into sports sponsorship, it is important for brands to fully grasp and understand the market they are looking to expand in. Mainstream advertising such as TV ads, where the entertainment is continuously interrupted and bombarded with somewhat irrelevant ads, often prompts people to use that time to look at their phone, get a drink, or even change the channel, resulting in a disconnect with the messaging that is presented.

Sports marketing on the other hand allows for a brand’s logo or brand message to be displayed efficiently where 100% of the consumer’s attention is fixated. The sports market therefore becomes an ideal platform for brands looking to grow their ROI and maximise their brand exposure without forcefully making their way into the eyes of the viewers.

This method of brand exposure means the consumer is made aware of the brand, without the brand being overly intrusive in their consumption of the event. Consequently, the brand is strongly associated with a product the consumer loves to watch and is therefore more likely to have a positive perception of the brand and be at the forefront of their minds when purchasing certain products.

Understanding how marketing within the sports field works, is therefore an essential starting point for brands seeking to achieve their goals and objectives.

Build trust

Understand your audience and use that to build trust. As mentioned, sports sponsorship is an opportunity for a brand to make itself present in front of an audience without the need to prompt immediate purchases. It is about building trust and becoming a reliable, well-bounded brand through sports.

The most successful sports sponsorship partnerships are grounded in shared goals, values and visions between the rights holder and the brand, whilst also appreciating and understanding the uniqueness of each individual partnership. Partnerships created along these lines are likely to last much longer. When activated correctly these partnerships see the levels of affection previously and exclusively attached to the rights holder, become attached to the brand as the two appear intrinsically connected.

Given the ever-changing broadcast landscape and the plethora of viewing options for fans now, sport sponsorships have needed to adapt and adopt different ways to engage fans. Dynamic and engaging campaigns that allow brands to become a part of the sports property are essential, and are designed to enhance the fan experience, further stoking the amicable connection between brand and consumer. These campaigns allow for brand activation, that act as a catalyst to spark consumer engagement, whilst also increasing brand awareness and distinctiveness.


The success behind every great sport sponsorship deal is in the hands of good communication. Right holders and brands should come together and establish a mutually beneficial relationship by communicating their objectives and set targets. Being able to communicate and negotiate the best sport sponsorship deals can turn tricky for both brands and rights holders as it can be very time-consuming, and it could even over-complicate the process. This is why a sports marketing agency is a great mediator between the two as it provides guided assistance and selects only the best and most relevant sport sponsorship opportunities available for brands and their objectives. So, why should brands choose a sports marketing agency?

Sponsorship of a rights holder provides the brand with business access, connections, hospitality, affinity, audience access, data, and helps to create a public perception of the brand that would be hard to curate using linear marketing and branding efforts. For example, hospitality packages are an excellent way to create memorable and unique moments for consumers and clients to consume live events, that further increase their affection for the brand.


Sports sponsorship work when they are founded in a shared passion that allows consumers to trust a brand. In turn, the brand will see increased sales and engagement with their products as they have naturally connected with the rights holders’ engaged and passionate audience.

Van Hawke Sports is a leading sports marketing agency, here to assist brands across all sectors of any size. We offer a complimentary advisory service to brands interested in sports marketing. If you want to learn more about us and how we can assist you, contact us today.

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