The answer is sports sponsorship...
An insight into the growing opportunities for businesses in sports sponsorship from Mary McNulty, head of PR and Communications at Epson Europe.
The most surprising discovery for newcomers to the world of sports sponsorship is the huge variety of business objectives that can be achieved through this discipline. The good old days of using sponsorship simply as an extension of advertising to build brand name visibility are long gone. Today’s businesses are looking for far more targeted returns on investment, including anything from improved staff retention and B2B/B2C sales growth to C-suite networking. The only consistent characteristic of a well-developed sports sponsorship campaign is that it will help improve your company’s bottom line.
Heads vs. hearts
There are many non-sports-related opportunities for companies to sponsor content or events that are interesting and add value in terms of thought leadership or advice. These opportunities have value, but will regularly only engage the (often enforced) attention of their target audience for a brief period. For example, a webinar on mortgage selection for first time buyers offers brand visibility but very little emotional connection.
Promoting a brand through sports sponsorship, by contrast, enables businesses to connect with a true passion that transcends generations and socio-economic groups, and connects to our essential human identity. People who love sport have an almost limitless appetite for content that brings them closer to their sport, team, talent and the atmosphere of a live event. This provides businesses with a wide range of opportunities to build powerful relationships with consumers.
Formula 1 is unique
Of all sports, motorsport has a certain defining characteristics that make it a particularly attractive proposition for marketers, especially Formula 1:
- Around 450 million viewers tune in every two weeks from almost every country in the world during the F1 season, to share in an adrenaline-fuelled, multi-sensory experience.
- Approximately half of all Fortune 500 companies are sponsors of F1, and the format and length of the occasion provides a real opportunity for business as well as for networking between executives.
- The sport is often used as a testing ground for new technologies – if products can survive the rigours of an F1 season, chances are they will serve your company or home very well.
Opportunities from the growth of media and sport
The growth and development of media channels and the way consumers engage with them has been well documented. Sports sponsorships provide businesses with the opportunity to develop content to maximise exposure and consumer engagement across these channels in the build-up to an event, and perhaps more importantly in the ‘pub conversation’ during and after the event.
The best sports marketing campaigns put brands at the heart of the public conversation about a sporting event. In today’s world this can mean not only having your logo pitch-side during a televised football match, but simultaneously providing added value commentary, analysis or statistics on social media platforms. This is because many sports fans today will be using a second screen (smartphone or tablet) to engage in debate about the game or race while it’s happening live.
One fantastic example of this comes from a brand that has developed relationships with football legends. During the game, these past masters provide direct analysis and opinion on key events to help seed conversation on behalf of the brand.
Sport itself is also growing. Previously specialist sports are coming increasingly to the fore, and in some cases being given their own dedicated television channels. New events like the European Games are also being created, giving brands even more opportunity to engage with sports fans.
Perhaps most interesting, though, is that this growth and fragmentation of sports and media channels offers marketers ever more opportunities to develop highly targeted and measurable campaigns, focused on a particular set of consumers or B2B stakeholders.
As a result we’re becoming ever more confident that for almost any strategic challenge a modern business faces, sports sponsorship can deliver a compelling and lasting solution.
Find out more about Epson's global partnership with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Team here.