Insight by Michael MacRitchie
Sponsorship offers brands/companies or advertisers a viable alternative to conventional advertising. This can take the form of a sport tournament, an event property, a music festival or a TV production or any entertainment property and can send or cement a brand message in a much subtler, long-lasting manner than a 30-sec promo spot.
Sport’s consistent popularity as entertainment means that sponsorship remains a popular way for large and small companies to market themselves: it is a very effective way of associating a brand or identity with the values represented by a particular sport. Sport sponsorship can range from multi-million dollar Olympics deals to small shop-owners sponsoring a local team. A professional team or a fun initiative like city to surf, Slam Volleyball (in Sydney)
or Professional athletes and sporting teams. As professional sport is really driven by finance (players demanding high salaries, equipment in a perpetual state of technological advance, stadiums requiring maintenance) then sponsors seem to be the only way to provide the cash necessary to keep the sport running to the standards that TV viewers demand.
This presents a slight modification for media coverage of sports, because, inevitably, covering the sport means covering the sponsor. It’s impossible to watch any major sporting event without being subjected to corporate branding, if you’re watching as part of the live audience at the track/pitch or viewing the TV broadcast. Sponsorship is one way for corporations/brands to reach millions of eyeballs worldwide via a single channel of communication and many companies allocate huge sums of money to their sponsorship budgets. The media are seen as playing a key role in attracting sports sponsorship, and a sport that has little media coverage has little hope of sponsorship. This creates a situation where sports are dependent on the media for their financial survival.
How does sponsorship work?
The benefits to the Sponsor are seen as wide ranging and include:
- Increased product awareness
- Improved corporate image
- Product positioning
- Enhanced advertising campaign
- Client entertainment
The ‘payback’ that the company receives also provides benefits for employees in the form of privileged access to the sponsored sport, and can have a motivating effect on the whole workforce.
The sponsor can expect all or some of the following from a sponsorship deal:
- Display of logo/brand identity on athletes/equipment (eg Football teams, racing cars)
- Display of signage at event site
- Naming rights to event, series competition or team (or racehorse if that’s what is being sponsored)
- Client entertainment at events
- Personal endorsements by athletes/players/coaches
- Identification in PR material and communications
- Promotional displays at events
- Display and use of equipment (eg shoes, clothing) by individual athletes
- Association of brands – which is why sponsors like to pick winning teams
In return, the sport or team in question can expect:
- Guaranteed, sustainable funds for the duration of the sponsorship contract
- Raised profile
- Improved performance thanks to better resources
Below is a basic graph which looks at the acceptance of sport sponsorship.