Sponsorship is in high demand in every sport. Rally and F1 teams have company brands adorned all over their cars and team uniforms, while football clubs see the front of their shirts emblazoned with a main sponsor logo. Recently, English Premier League teams have been given the go-ahead for additional sponsors to appear on their shirt’s sleeves, while clubs in the lower leagues are also allowed to include sponsors to the rear of their shirts. But, why do companies around the world compete for such deals? Nissan Europe’s vice president of marketing, Jean Pierre Diernaz, said: “Sport is now the only potential discipline where you can engage very high numbers of people.”
There is no denying that companies regularly look to get global sports stars on board as they can act as role models for people to look up to, therefore having consumers wanting to wear the brands that their icons are wearing.
Basketball’s Michael Jordan is an example of this. The former superstar still brings in a whopping $110 million each year thanks to his deal with Nike – over 15 years after he retired from the sport. Retro Jordan trainers (or sneakers if you may) are still strong sellers. In the fiscal year ending May 2016, the range’s revenue was $2.8 billion, meaning a deal with the star is certainly worth it for the clothing giants.
Puma’s sponsorship of Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt is another deal that proves that stars can help increase a brand’s equity and brand awareness. They used him in the Olympics in 2016 to enhance their brand awareness without having to be an official sponsor of the Games. Knowing he would be one of the most photographed participants, they knew they’d be heavily involved in media content. Bolt helped to do this by taking off his iconic trainers after a gold-winning run and making them noticeable to the whole stadium and in every photo.
Football remains the most popular sport in the world and with an estimated 3.5 billion fans around the globe, sponsoring a football team can open your brand up to so many potential customers across the planet.
German car manufacturer Audi are hugely involved in football. For one, they are the official vehicle partner for Spanish football giants Real Madrid. But, what does this actually mean? Well, simply put, each member of the Real Madrid first team is provided with an Audi to drive, with the Audi Q7 among those most popular among the players in 2017. The pair have been unified since July 2003 and remain two of the most successful entities in the world.
The value to Real Madrid is clear to see, with staff receiving cars. But how does Audi benefit? With Real Madrid being a team full of superstars, the car manufacturer takes advantage of their stature in advertisements. They also perform virtual test drives of new models to build its reputation.
Moving away from Spain, Audi is the principal sponsor of German giants Bayern Munich and have been in partnership with them since 2002. In 2015, they extended that agreement until 2025, showing that there is great value in such deals. For their estimated €10 million-per-year-deal, the German manufacturers get their logo printed on the match shirts as well as an 8.8% share in the football club.
It’s important to note that Audi aren’t the only German carmaker to take the plunge into the lucrative football market. Volkswagen are invested in the sport too thanks to their sponsorship deal with UEFA. The partnership, agreed in 2017, saw the two entities connected for four years between 2018 and 2022. They plan to release their new e-mobility family in 2020 – just in time for the next European Championships, which will be held across 13 countries and so providing ultimate exposure and brand awareness.
Volkswagen’s CEO, Dr Herbert Diess, said: “No other sport is as powerful as football or unites so many people. Furthermore, UEFA EURO 2020, which is being played across the entire continent, is a fantastic project. Our wish is to contribute towards building bridges between all countries and football fans with our mobility and creativity.”
After football, rugby union is the UK’s second favourite sport, with the Six Nations tournament seen as the pinnacle of the rugby calendar. In April 2018, English rugby’s top teams agreed to a four-year sponsorship deal worth £40 million with insurance company Gallagher. While the company is US-founded, it currently has 50 UK branches and will be looking to get a stranglehold on the industry thanks to the exposure it will receive from the sport.
Gallagher’s Chairman, President and CEO, J. Patrick Gallagher Jr, said when the sponsorship was announced: “By uniting with this globally-known and fast-growing franchise, we have a terrific opportunity to increase awareness about our company, values, expertise and services, and jointly participate in community projects and causes to make a difference. This dynamic business and marketing partnership with Premiership Rugby reflects who we are culturally and professionally.”
It’s clear to see from these comments just how effective an industry professional believes sports sponsorships can be for a business.
Obviously, these are just a small number of examples of sports marketing deals across the globe. Every sport has its worth for brands and can help influence its audience. Choosing the correct sporting sponsorships can pretty much guarantee global exposure for a business, making it a no brainer. Sponsoring a festival or other event won’t even come close to the outreach levels provided by sports, and that is why sports will continue to be extremely influential in sponsorships. Which is the biggest sponsorship deal you can think of in your favourite sport?