Sports Marketing & Sponsorship: Importance, Career Options & Business Development

What is Sports Marketing?

Sports marketing is a subdivision of marketing which focuses both on the promotion of sports events and teams as well as the promotion of other products and services through sporting events and sports teams.

Sports marketing is a growing division of the marketing field that focuses on the business of sports and the use of sports as a marketing tool. Sports marketing professionals enjoy a wide variety of employment opportunities, including positions with universities, corporations, media outlets, sporting equipment manufacturers, retailers and public relations agencies.

Uniqueness of Sports Marketing

1.   No other industry incites the same devotion and love from its loyal brand followers as sport

2.   Passion and emotion for a team or sports-related product is what differentiates sport marketing from the marketing of other products and service

3.   Sport fans have always been vocal and opinionated. Sport rivalries feed passion and emotion

4.   They aren’t profit-orientated

5.   Personal involvement and self-identification of fans and the extensive media coverage

6.   The customer expresses their personality and values to others through their choice of a particular team/product and its distinguishing attributes and brand personality

7.   Demand can fluctuate drastically

8.   Traditional pricing methods do not apply

Even the biggest Bollywood Blockbuster like Sanju took 4- 6 months to make Rs.586 crores, but an India v/s Pakistan World Cup match creates revenue of about Rs. 5,000 crores holistically in about just 8-10 hours. The amount the viewership and eyeballs a brand gets in an India v/s Pakistan is huge and cannot be compared to any other sector.

How Sports helps brands grow? (The most important question from a brand perspective)

A sponsor/brand can enjoy a wide range of benefits from its association with sports as under

1. Increased visibility for the product

2. Raise brand awareness and create preference.

 3. It creates positive PR and raise awareness of the organisation as a whole.

 4. Provide attractive content for a range of products and services.

 5. Build brand positioning through associative imagery.

 6. Support a sales promotion campaign.

 7. Create internal emotional commitment to the brand.

 8. Act as corporate hospitality that promotes good relations with clients.

 9. High return on Investment.

 10. Organisations gain competitive advantage by developing USPs: things that only they provide and which make them distinct from anything provided by their competitors

 11. Expand their coverage to large audience.

  12. Helps them to get popular celebrities to endorse their brand.

 13. Association with bigger & better brands (team sponsors merge with official sponsors)

14. Gets all modes of advertising like television, radio, press etc.

15. Helps in Social Welfare

16. Connects with all age groups

Before sponsoring an activity, the sponsor must feel sure that the event/organisation will be successful; has a proven track record, good prospects and generally be aligned with the sponsor’s brand and business objectives. Sports sponsorship is the most common and can range from international to regional and local events

Now let us focus on some brands who have benefited immensely with their association with Sports.

1.     DLF: Before the IPL came about, we all knew of DLF has a decent real estate brand in North India, But DLF’s association with the IPL changed the complete perception about the brand in the eyes of the public. From becoming a listed company to a house hold real estate name. Everything in the IPL was called DLF IPL. 

2.     VIVO and OPPO: Both these Chinese mobile brands have been associated with Indian cricket for some time now, more so VIVO. Today the amount of the exposure and eyeballs the IPL and Indian cricket has given these 2 brands is tremendous. Today mostly everyone’s second phone is an OPPO or VIVO phone. All official communication of the IPL and all IP’s of the franchises have VIVO mobiles associated with it.

3.     Manyavar: Again because of its association with cricket and the IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders the story of Manyavar is an interesting one. Starting with a couple outlets in Kolkata Manyavar used their association with KKR and Bollywood super star Shahrukh Khan to make Manyavar a household name. There was limited inventory left to fill in the KKR jersey sponsorship and Manyavar took advantage of that to become part of the esteemed franchise. With this deal they got both cricket and Shahrukh Khan to promote their product. The value of the deal also wasn’t very high. Today the Captain of the Indian Cricket team and his wife endorse the brand. From being associated with only one city, today Manyavar has become a household name for men and women ethnic wear across the country.

4.     Emirates: The famous airline uses the best spot in cricket to market its product.  We can see the Emirates brand during every ball of an International match and amount the brand benefits because of its “Fit and Position” in sports. So, to make the right choice and to make sure you get the correct position also makes a difference.

Tips related for effective Sports Sponsorship for Brands:

Golden rule in any sales or sponsorship deal be a Consultant, try and add value and most important try and give more than money value to the brand.

1.     Time: Time plays a vital role is making sure your investment is giving you the desired results. The month in which you make the decision to invest in Sports really matters. Festive seasons and in which financial quarter of the year you make the investment really matters.

2.     Fit and Position: The placement of the brand on the jersey of a team or the position of a brand during on ground sponsorships is very important. You need to position your brand where the viewership will be maximum and also at an affordable price.

3.     Colour Combination: The most important aspect in sports Sponsorship is that the brand must be visible. The colour combinations of the logo of the brand must me in sync with the colour of the team/franchise’s jersey. A Vodafone logo is so appealing to the eyes that it looks good on any jersey.

Careers in Sports Marketing, Sports Sponsorship and Business Development in Sports:

·     The sales team of any organisation are the heroes of the company. So, at any stage of your career don’t run away from sales.

·     In the Indian Sporting sector 90% + organizations are start-ups and the only thing they require is Business Development executives and associates.

·     There are more 90-100 sales or sponsorship slots available in each marquee sporting league around the world.

·     Imagine if you can crack 3-4 deals in a year, your world tour and all other important desires of life will be fulfilled.

·     Your growth in sales in the sports industry is “SKYWARDS”. Supposing you had got the Pan Bahar or Cycle Pure Aggarbattis deal for the BCCI your life would have been made today.

·     So, opportunities in the sales and sponsorship are a plenty in the Sporting industry one just needs to grab them.

Written by Mr. Bhavesh Singh

IISM Alumni Batch 2016-17

Professor & Sr. Manager- Corporate Relations at IISM

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