How to ace Sports Sponsorship

The summer of sport is in full swing: Wimbledon, the Ashes, the British Grand Prix, Tour de France and the Open just around the corner. To name but a few of the sporting events that frequent the front and back pages, as well as news feeds and websites during the warmer months.

Timely, then, was the arrival of PR Week in the post with a special feature on sports sponsorship. Lord Coe gracing the cover with the headline ‘Seb Coe on FIFA, major scandals and the soaring value of sports content’.

Skimming straight to the lead feature, I was stopped in my page flicking by the faceless red-card wielding referee leaping out of page 17 alongside the headline More money: more problems?

Great, another negative piece about sport sponsorship (which, for an agency like ours specialising in precisely that, sets alarm bells ringing.) Yet, moving through Alex Benady’s introductory ‘litany of shame’, some interesting numbers are revealed.

$145bn: that’s an impressive number, so let’s start there. That’s 92 billion pounds, the amount at which PWC have placed the total value of the global sports market for 2015. Gate receipts, sponsorship, broadcast rights, merchandising and more – that’s the impressive grand total, representing a whopping 35% increase over the past nine years.

The feature provides a valuable insight into the dangers of sports sponsorship – and although we are strong advocates of the power of sponsorship, we are certainly not blinkered to the challenges that can arise. What we do know, however, is how to help companies navigate the myriad pitfalls.

Nestled away in a neat box-out within the PR Week piece are some fine suggestions from O2 Head of Sponsorship, Gareth Griffiths on how to develop a successful sports partnership. In a nutshell: get the strategy right and focus on business rationale; explore the numerous types of sponsorship opportunity that exist (trust us, there are plenty); make the partnership tangible; do your homework and gain insights; engage all areas of the business (don’t forget internal communications, an all-too-often overlooked part of sponsorship activation plans, and something we put at the heart of any activation strategy); be creative; agree metrics upfront and measure them – always.

The full PR Week article (paywall) is a must-read for anyone with even a passing interest in sports sponsorships. Don’t be put off, though: the positives of the correct sports partnership, with a comprehensive, integrated and well executed activation plan can truly transform a brand.

This piece was written by Sine Qua Non International Director Chris Ritchie @chrispritchie. Chris has been with SQN since nearly the beginning bringing his extensive experience of technology and sports marketing to the centre of the team. When not in the office, he’d rather be climbing mountains, playing tennis or skiiing Chamonix.