Visma, AG2R La Mondiale, Vivo and Grenadier are brand names you might recognize from the jerseys of cyclists or from panels along the football field during a European Championship match. But do you know exactly what these brands stand for and what they do? And moreover: whether or not they have a link with the sport they sponsor.
When you say sports, you think about money. And when you think about money, you look for sponsors. Getting a big bag of money thrown in your lap and doing whatever you want with it? It seems like the dream of Patrick Lefevere. But the years of unlimited budgets are over. Especially if there is no return on investment. So how do you choose the right athlete or club as a company? How do you calculate the ROI and how do handle the process? Ready. Set. Go!
The fastest route to brand awareness is printing your name on the front of a football jersey. Any market research will confirm that customers will recognize you. But do they also know what you do and what your brand stands for? Rule number one: if you are considering sponsorship as a company, then it must be clear what you are doing exactly. Adding your label to a successful athlete to get a piece of the pie? That’s opportunistic and a waste of money! The only thing that works: a direct link between sponsor and sport.
The most extreme example of this is undoubtedly Red Bull. They are not just a sponsor – they are an innovator who enables athletes to do the impossible! It is, of course, exceptional that sport, sponsorship and brand image are so closely linked. By choosing Formula 1, BMX, motocross, rally, … they deliberately reinforce the hype that surrounds the brand. But it can also be more modest – even for a B2B brand.
About three years ago, Atos used its expertise in consultancy to develop a customized app for Belgian speed skater Bart Swings. With this app, he can monitor his training data, he has insight into his training progress, and he can optimize his training schedule with the objective of improving his performance. The logo on his shirt is therefore not just a logo, it is the embodiment of a partnership in which the brand creates added value for the athlete and the other way around as well: because digital transformation is obviously taking place in all layers of society.
The most important reason for considering sports sponsorship is without doubt the bond between sport and the public. People flock to squares to watch a screen when athletes deliver a heroic performance and even the toughest fans are brought to tears after a defeat. This emotional bond is precisely what companies strive for: the development of a brand preference (or love). It seems cliché, but it is key to create a win-win situation for both the sports club and the companies. For clubs, the financial aspect is of course important to support the cooperation. For companies, it is an interesting channel to reach a (new) target group.
However, not all sports clubs and athletes are equally strong when it comes to communication, which means that many opportunities remain unused. So make sure that you can tell your own story with every sponsorship deal. Or that you can make use of the success momentum to adjust all your other communications accordingly. Then you will see that sports sponsoring is unrivalled in terms of return compared to a one-off advertising campaign.
There is of course more to sponsor than just King Football. Think of hockey, skating, basketball, equestrian sports, and tennis: all sports with a wide variety of audiences and networking opportunities. Because that’s where it all starts: who do you want to reach? And in some cases, the fastest way to get to that target group is through sports. Then you link a measurable outcome to it: for some this will be pure awareness creation, for others access to a new network. And some people just want to go out for a nice meal every two weeks!
PS: for those who really want to know: Visma is a software company, AG2R La Mondiale is an insurance provider, Vivo builds smartphones, and Grenadier is something you better Google.