• Van Hawke Sports

Sponsorship & Partnership: the difference

- By Alex Bidwell

Typically, a sponsorship is a transactional activity, when an entity gives funding to an event or activity of another entity in return for the rights to advertise themselves during the event or activity. Sports properties are one of the biggest beneficiaries of sponsorship as they offer great visibility for brands, resulting in sports sponsorship being a thriving industry.

Since the turn of the century, there has been a gradual transition in the world of sports sponsorship as the ‘one-size-fits-all’ algorithm in sports and sponsorship packages were no longer the best way to leverage their assets.

Global companies have multifaceted marketing ambitions to create bespoke packages, in conjunction with the sports properties, to ensure all aspects of their unique marketing strategy were coherent.

In turn, this ushered in a more cemented form of sports sponsorship: sports partnerships. Sports partnership is a ‘two-way relationship’ that sees collaboration between rights holders and businesses that have shared values and goals.

A sponsorship develops into a partnership when the transaction between the brand and the sports rights holder is built upon, and a program is developed in which both sides work together towards shared goals. Partnerships are heavy on collaboration and mutuality in allowing companies to become more invested in the experience of the sports properties’ supporters and add to their viewing experience.

For example, in the recent partnership between Lavazza Coffee and Juventus FC, there is a deep, authentic connection between these two iconic brands. They were both founded in Turin, and share passions for entrepreneurship, innovation, passion, and tradition that have seen them become world-class companies. Through this partnership, Lavazza will gain brand exposure on the pitch at Serie A and Coppa Italia matches, activities on social media, and be the exclusive provider of coffee at Juventus’ home games.

Sports partnerships have allowed for an improved and tailored approach to traditional sponsorship blueprint. First and foremost, packages are custom-made to fit each partnerships’ ambition. Furthermore, companies utilise more of their departments, such as marketing and production to help leverage the partnership. This then leads in further efforts to develop and improve existing products/services or even create new ones. For example, an official partner of BWL (British Weightlifting) are ONE PRO Nutrition, who provide a wide range of high-quality supplements that help fuel training and competition and are a market leader in their field of science, functionality and taste.

Many partnerships established today are usually long-term as they involve two parties with a shared ambition or values to benefit one another and their local community. The partnership between Gallagher and Premiership Rugby (Men and Women’s) for instance is a classic example. Gallagher have supported the rugby club community for many years, and their partnership with Premiership Rugby further confirms their desire to support the game from grassroots level all the way to top tiers across all English rugby.

Van Hawke Sports is a leading sports marketing agency, specialising in sports sponsorship for brands. If you want to learn more about us and how we can assist you, contact us today. 

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