In Blog / Sport

Sport sponsorships: a growing trend

25 June 2019
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The global spending for sport sponsorships continues to grow. At the global level the total spending reached the record amount of 65,8 billion dollars in 2018, and it is an increasingly growing sector considering that there was a +52,7% growth (in 2008 the spending reached 43,1 billions). The main role was played - that goes without saying - by the American/Canadian market, as usual: just consider that for every dollar spent in sponsorships in the world, almost 37 cents came from their market.

One of the reasons why North America dominates derives from its success in creating amazingly valuable sport “brands”. Going through the list of the Most Valuable Sport Events Brands Worldwide stilata da Forbes, you cannot but notice that the brand “Super Bowl” counts as much as the Football World Cup and the Olympic Games together. In this case, the value of the brand does not consider the spectators’ attendance or the generated income but is the indicator of the brand’s cost and consequently of the turnover it can generate. In other words, a measure of the potential of that event in terms of marketing. 

Brands consider sport as a sector that is worth investing in. But what do you mean by sports sponsorship, and why do companies use it in they marketing strategies?

Bare advertising is seen as something that prevents you from watching what you choose, showing products and services that are often not interesting. So, why not inserting the brand in something that your target wants to watch and it can identify with? This is the sense of sports sponsorship. 

Positioning a brand in the “comfort zone” of your potential consumers means entering a space where the consumers’ attention is 100% focused, such as in shows they have decided to watch, that they like and appreciate. In this way, spectators will connect the brand with something they like, seeing it as positive. The result will be a relationship based on a common passion, which     means trust for the brand and its products and consequently a sales’ increase

The new frontier of sponsorship: a total break with the past!

How do sports sponsorships work today and what has changed compared to the past?
Not only supporters, also sponsors, and sport in general have changed. Speaking about sport means speaking about business, as the word Sport Industry suggests. In the past sponsoring a club, an event or any sports products simply meant putting a logo on the athletes’ uniforms, on a banner on the sidelines or on the backdrop during interviews. This model worked especially because the number of media was limited.

The proliferation of “new media” and the flexibility of the sponsorship marketing instrument give companies many opportunities in terms of brand awareness, public relations, hospitality, engagement and promotion activities, storytelling, licensing.

In Italy sports sponsorship are high concentrated: a few properties have most sponsors, while investments mostly reward the disciplines that can guarantee a wide TV audience. However, in general we can claim that nowadays a sponsorship that is not activated can be considered as something without value. 

This is the challenge. It is necessary to innovate and create activations that can guarantee high ROI even in case of partnerships with events, sports and teams that cannot benefit from a great attention on TV.

Sponsorship, as above said, is a very flexible tool and there are no limits as far as what you can do. More and more companies are starting to consider sports events as a good business opportunity. In this context, an important role is played by corporate hospitality: inviting your own clients or potential clients to a football mach, to the final of the volleyball championship or in the MotoGp Mugello paddock can make the difference also in terms of business.

How to activate sponsorships? The 2019 trends

Social networks and the constant evolutions of digital channels give sponsors new opportunities. There was a change from push marketing to pull marketing, above all thanks to social media. It’s not about  shooting a message in the pile, now the must is conveying a correct message to the correct target using different communication channels. 

Two of the main strategic objectives of sponsorships, indeed, are data acquisition and profiling, which must be as detailed as possible. The digital contest tool helps a lot in this sense and is increasingly used. 

In view of fan engagement, the objective of any sponsorship should be using the data of consumers that have been acquired through digital infrastructures, aiming to get to know their profiles, and “transforming” them in potential clients for different sectors and products. 

Moreover, in the digital activations of a sponsorship, creativity and emotions are decisive drivers. People love stories. Stories fascinate us, inspire us, push us to action. Those who make business know that well. As a consequence, if you want to catch your target’s attention, you should have interesting and authentic stories to tell.

Storytelling comes into play, a communication “tactic” that turns out to be very powerful and that the main international brands - but not only them - use to communicate with their own clients, aiming to attract them and as a loyalty tool.

Although it has often been described as a bubble that will soon burst, influencer marketing is still growing and is becoming more and more professional. It’s not necessary to refer to longterm partnership like the ones of Michale Jordan with Nike or David Beckham with Adidas: there are also other interesting marketing strategies, like the one by Pescaria, a fast food created in Polignano (Apulia) by the best Italian cliff diver ever, Alessandro Da Rose: the first Italian athlete to used a funnel marketing campaign to create a direct selling process with his own fanbase. 

The starting point of the strategy was the creation of a limited edition sandwich dedicated to the champion. It was sold in the stores of Polignano a Mare, Milan and Trani, on the occasion of the Red Bull Cliff Dicing World Series stage that took place in Polignano, in which De Rose was the only Italian participant. A viral mechanism was then created on Instagram: all the users’ contents about the sandwich were re-posted on De Rose’s profile. The results of this operation were remarkable: during the days dedicated to the initiative, 1.165 “De Rose” sandwiches were sold (100 a day on average). In this way the athlete did not only lend his image, he became an autonomous business driver, who added a measurable and evident value to the brand he worked with. This is exactly the challenge that the players in the world of sport will have to face from now on!

Lorenzo Pestugia