Sponsoring a sporting event... a good idea?

Philippe Marmara

Summer is a period when we can see major sporting events sponsored by top companies. Think about the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, the FIFA World Cup… Many ask the question why sponsor? Is it a good investment? Why do we spend our marketing money trying to connect with our customers and consumers attracted to these special occasions.

In fact, there are many reasons why it is a very good investment, but it must be coherent with the brand architecture, the brand positioning, and the customer focus. It is a fantastic tool for creating positive energy, engaging the teams with brand activation, developing lasting relationships with clients and distributors.

Here are some of the reasons why I believe it is a very good marketing and commercial tool.

  • Brand Exposure and Recognition: Sponsoring special events provides an opportunity for increased brand visibility and exposure. Events often attract a large audience, media coverage, and online attention, allowing sponsors to reach a broader target market and gain recognition. By associating your brand with a well-organized and successful event, you can enhance brand awareness and improve brand image. The typical example here would be the long-lasting relationship between Coca-Cola and the Olympics. Another great example that we have seen recently is the incredible activation work done by Orangina (Suntory) for the Tour de France or Tourtel (Carlsberg) during the same event.
  • Targeted Marketing and Audience Engagement: Special events are often tailored to specific industries, interests, or communities. Sponsoring such events enables you to connect with your target audience in a focused and engaging environment. It allows you to showcase your products, services, or values directly to potential customers who are more likely to be interested and receptive to your message.
  • Building Relationships and Networking: Events provide a platform for networking and relationship-building with other industry professionals, potential clients, and business partners. Sponsoring an event gives you access to key decision-makers and influencers, creating opportunities for collaborations, partnerships, and future business endeavors. In most of these events key customers, distributors, and business partners are invited and can benefit from the outstanding organization put in place.
  • Community Involvement and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): Sponsoring local or community events demonstrates your organization's commitment to the community and its well-being. By supporting events that align with your brand values or social causes, you enhance your reputation and build goodwill among customers and the community at large. This contributes to your corporate social responsibility efforts and fosters a positive perception of your brand.
  • Differentiation and Competitive Advantage: Sponsoring special events can help your brand stand out among the competition. It allows you to create a unique and memorable experience for attendees through activations, branding opportunities, or exclusive benefits. By associating your brand with a well-regarded event, you differentiate yourself in the market and position your organization as a leader or innovator in your industry.
  • Product/Service Launch and Market Research: Special events provide a captive audience and a platform to launch new products or services. Sponsoring such events allows you to generate buzz and excitement around your offerings, while also gaining valuable feedback and insights from attendees. It provides an opportunity for market research, testing, and validation of your new offerings in a real-world setting.
  • Return on Investment (ROI): Effective event sponsorship strategies can deliver a significant return on investment. By carefully selecting events that align with your marketing objectives, target audience, and brand values, you can maximize the impact and reach of your sponsorship efforts. Measuring the ROI may involve tracking metrics such as increased brand awareness, customer engagement, lead generation, sales conversions, and post-event feedback.

Marketing managers should also be very much aware of the attitude of new generations regarding sponsorship. They mostly value authenticity and alignment: The new generation places a high value on authenticity and seeks genuine connections with brands and causes. They are more likely to sup-port sponsors that align with their values and interests. Millennials and Gen Z, in particular, are known to favor brands that demonstrate social responsibility, environmental consciousness, and inclusivity.