Let's take a closer look at key sports sponsorship trends of last year and what we can learn from them.
Loads of investment has been pouring into sports sponsorships recently. Marketing through super stars, rising athletes, sports clubs and events was booming last year too. There are two quite simple, but strong reasons behind this trend. Firstly, digital advertising expenditure is hitting the ceiling every year, which means there are millions of messages overloading the market. Obviously, advertisers are desperately looking for anything but direct ads. And here comes the second reason – sports, which can offer something that is truly valued by users: real emotions.
Everybody loves a good story. Sports fans? Especially! Storytelling and sports go really well together. That’s because fans can more easily connect and empathise with their loved athletes and players. But that’s not an easy task to accomplish for marketers. To make your sponsorship truly shine you have to be creative. And not only that. The ideal message has to fit the sponsor, target audience and spokesperson all in equal measure.
An amazing example of how to do it in a very simple, but brilliant way comes from the recent FIFA World Cup 2018. After France has won the title, Nike (official team sponsor) came up with a message, that everybody wanted to hear – “Title belongs to the whole country”. It was wrapped in an amazing piece of video that hit couple of million views in just 5 days.
It’s not only the big ones who can do it. Smaller companies can also use sports and enhance their brands locally with the help of creative targeted campaigns. A good local story can be even more engaging and if its’ really that good it might reach the big stage as well!
As sports sponsorships evolved from being simple acts of social responsibility, more and more marketing actions were focused on sports brand collaborations. Instead of “one message for all,” now it’s “the right message for every target group”. That means that one sponsorship can be seen differently from user point of view. That brings even more possibilities to the field of smart sponsorship.
A good example of addressing targeting issues was explored by Adidas. One of their goals was to promote an official Adidas app to gather their users into one platform. There they can construct even more personalised and targeted marketing campaigns than on Facebook or Twitter. They ran the app campaign during Fifa World Cup 2018. You can check out their work below.
Actually, one-time-deal influencers are going away and thank god for that. Reputation of many sports influencers has suffered greatly after a variety of scandals, unprofessionalism, misguided campaigns and because of a rather unpleasant tendency to attract more and more free-product hunters rather than actual fans. 2019 should be named the year of “professionalism at influencing sports”. We’ve noticed that the bond between sports fans and individual sports brands is growing. Instead of reaching out for one-off effect, brands are leaning towards long-time partnerships with influencers that share the same values as their brand.
Stephen Curry and Under Armour, David Beckham and Adidas – these are good examples of long-term partnerships on a large scale, that have successful effect across the entire brand marketing mix and communication (across all media genres, not only social media). Whether you call them influencers or brand ambassadors is irrelevant.
Have you noticed how running slowly became everybody’s thing? Running is attracting the interest more and more companies, as numerous current studies have shown. What’s that about? Well, the attributes of endurance, willpower, and eagerness to train are very universal and can be used to advertise a variety of different industries. There are many shared-value touch-points for any brand here. Let’s take the attribute of health and fitness – which at first glance seems to only be of interest for sports related brands. However, automotive manufacturers, insurance companies and electronics manufacturers are pumping themselves with running stars’ partnerships, investing in running communities and events.
Interestingly, there are still plenty of space where sponsorship in running could occur: brands can easily partner up with running groups on Facebook, local running events, running influencers and many other. Sports sponsorship opportunities for brands are everywhere. Even for non-sports related companies. We just need a bit of creativity!
Trending sports such as drone racing or a variety of e-sports offers major sponsorship opportunities for companies and brands. The advertising space is usually exclusive and offers the opportunity to contribute. Trend sports sponsorship is also especially helpful when it comes to changing brand image or tapping into a new target group. An area of advertising that Red Bull has recognised years ago, but nobody else does it as good as them.
Place another logo on a football jersey or become a title sponsor of an e-sports tournament? The answer depends on your goals of course, but here we are only limited by creativity and good sponsorship management. There is no doubt that sponsoring trending sports does an amazing job for changing brand image. Usually that’s because a brand can make a significant impact on the trending sportcommunity. A good sponsorship between a trending sport and a brand can actually have a bigger influence compared to traditional sportssponsorship.
Smart sports sponsorship will need even more of your attention this year. Targeted storytelling should be one of the most prioritised marketing activities. Everybody loves good stories, but sports fans love them even more. You can put your efforts into influencer marketing, but remember that only long-term approach works in sports. It would also be wise to remember that running became something as big as football and might be worth looking into. You might also look for other universal sport phenomenons or catch a trending sport wave. All of this gives us lots of opportunities. Let’s conquer them!