Sports Sponsorship must be relevant to fans

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Make sure your sports sponsorship is active and relevant to fans: that’s the message to sponsors from a new study by sports market research firm Onside and sports activation specialists Atomic Sport.

According to Onside’s research, the overall Irish sports sponsorship rights fee market is worth €152 million.  But for Onside’s founder and chief executive John Trainor, brands looking to get those sponsorship positions need to go one step further and spend a little more money to activate those branding positions – in short, to make sure that they are not simply passive brands on a hoarding by the side of the pitch.

Irish brands such as AIB, SuperValu and Eir – as Eircom is now known – can make their campaigns 150% more effective, according to Onside’s analysts, when they spend money on specific activation campaigns.  

“If you’re not committed to activation and don’t have a budget locked in, you’re running a real risk of underperforming,” Trainor said.  “The consumer and the public have become so sophisticated that they will simply filter out a sponsorship that’s not properly activated.”

On top of the €150 million market in fees to secure the sponsorships, Trainor said another 70% or so needs to be spent on making sure those campaigns stand out.  For brands that don’t put additional money into a campaign, they’re potentially letting their awareness scores drop.

“Sponsors that are not letting people know they’re a sponsor, their awareness scores underachieved by 100 to 150 per cent,” Trainor said.  “The decision on behalf of guys just to buy the rights and depend on sights on the side of a pitch or a logo on a shirt, they’re really missing the possibilities.”

While prominence is valuable, Trainor said, it is also useful for brands to demonstrate clearly to people the value of a brand through the sponsorship.  The study showed that while three in four people had a sports sponsorship they could spontaneously recall, only one in two could remember one that they felt they would personally benefit from.

The study also showed that in the first half of 2015, brands such as Guinness, Three, SuperValu,  Heineken, Bank of Ireland, AIB, Aviva, Ulster Bank and AIG all scored well as sponsorships that people not only remembered, but remembered as companies that were relevant to them.

Written by Barry Whyte
First published in Sunday Business Post, 4 October 2015