Sponsorship has been around, in some form at least, since Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, where wealthy dignitaries would finance gladiatorial battles and other blood sports.
Fortunately, we no longer have to risk our lives to secure sponsorship and things have come a long way, with massive growth in sports sponsorship occurring since the 1970’s (when sponsorship was very much just a logo on a shirt or F1 car and not much more). Every year, as technology gets more advanced and consumer preferences change, so too does sponsorship and how it’s carried out. SNAP thought it would be useful to walk you through exactly what sponsorship is, and can be, to help you navigate the field.
Sponsorship is a component of the marketing mix; therefore, sponsorship is generally used as a promotional tool for businesses. What that promotion is set out to achieve will be different for every business. However, sponsorship is also used to satisfy other objectives, not just marketing objectives. Thus, the line has become blurred for many practitioners as to whether sponsorship is a component of marketing or whether marketing is a component of sponsorship.
At the recent 2020 Euro’s, you may have noticed a number of brands that you’ve never previously heard of sponsoring the tournament: Hisense, Alipay and Vivo. All of the aforementioned brands are Chinese, trying to penetrate the European market. Hisense, who make consumer electronics, stated “It’s an excellent time for our brand to expand its profile” (Global Times, 2021). Clearly, for Hisense at least, their motivations for sponsoring the Euro’s revolve around brand awareness and probably salience, so that the next time you need to buy a TV or fridge, you at least consider their offerings. It’s clearly working….Hisense also sponsored the 2016 Euro’s and tracked their brand awareness in the European market over time. They found that over the course of the last four years, their brand awareness doubled.
On the other hand:
GSK sponsored the McLaren F1 team under the Aquafresh brand, the motivation for them: Brand Awareness? Increased sales? Storytelling? Actually, none of the above. GSK sponsored McLaren for access to McLaren Applied Technology, a company built off the back of the ever-evolving technologies and processes involved in racing. By sponsoring the F1 team, GSK were able to consult the McLaren Applied Technology team to apply rapid pit-lane procedures to toothpaste production to shave seconds off their manufacturing time.
What does this all mean for sports organisations?
It means that you – probably – have a massive untapped potential for new sponsors at your sports organisation. There will be businesses, local, regional and national who all have varying objectives and therefore their motivations for sponsorship will be completely different from one another. If grassroots sport begins to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to sponsorship towards a bespoke model, new sponsors and sponsoring sectors will begin to migrate their marketing budget or provide in-kind sponsorship.
For example, we spoke to a Cricket club that uses the SNAP platform to manage their sponsorships, they’d just made a significant sum of money using SNAP and were discussing how it might be time to fix the club fence. We recommended, rather than spending these precious club funds outright that they approach several landscapers, groundsmen and fencers with a proposition: fence work done in-kind or heavily discounted, in return for a plaque in front of the new fence, free marketing-communications, newsletter and programme inclusions for the season. Lo-and-behold this was negotiated with one of the firms. For a hockey club we worked with, an investment company sponsored them: not for a logo on a shirt or a pitch side board, but actually just for the ability to hold information evenings and dinners with the parents of certain age groups about their investment, savings and pension solutions.
Finding the fit between your club and a sponsors objectives
At SNAP, we have some exciting developments with National and International companies who will soon be sponsoring clubs on the SNAP platform and supporting the revival of grassroots sport. Their objectives vary too: one may sponsor a club in return for exclusive use of their product or service, whereas another may provide a traditional corporate partnership and a revenue stream, one may provide in-kind products or services in return for some advertisement to members and another may just want to create some storytelling, good content for their social media.
Sponsorship comes in many guises, SNAP is a firm believer that not only can grassroots sport benefit from sponsorship, but sponsorship can also benefit from grassroots sport. As sports organisations, we should consider what assets and opportunities we have available and how we can market these differently to varying sectors, how they may help achieve their objectives and subsequently what activations might work to get the relationship off the ground. Finally, what does the club need? (Like the fence example above) Therefore, how could the club satisfy this with sponsorship whilst also providing benefits back to the sponsoring party. If you can grasp this, you’ll take sponsorship in your stride and your grassroots sport organisation could thrive.
Next Steps for you?
Want to join us on our next webinar to find out more about SNAP, including the features and functionality that may help you achieve your club’s sponsorship goals? Or do you want to arrange a call with one of our team at a time that works for you? Get in touch with us today! Can't wait to get going? Then you can sign up here to get started!