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As brands battle with the impact of short-termism in marketing, sports sponsorship is a strong alternative for brands as it can deliver both immediate outcomes and longer-term results by placing brands at the intersection between consumers and their passion points.
As an inherently long-term exercise from both a practical and contractual perspective, there is a certain logic to the effects sports sponsorship is able to deliver, according to Neil Hopkins, global head of strategy at M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment.
Writing in the current issue of Admap (topic: creating a sports sponsorship framework), he notes that the tenures of major sport sponsorship agreements are typically between two and four years in duration, reflecting the established cycle of a particular sport.
“As a consequence, they are activated in a way that reflects the natural narrative which unfolds within that sport, and the impacts are evaluated in a way that takes this into account,” he says.
For example, a four-year FIFA World Cup sponsorship is extremely effective in engaging football fans during the year of the tournament but delivers less value in ‘off years’.
That’s one reason creative activation is so important if sponsorship is to be more than a glorified media buy, he advises.
Referencing the work of Binet and Field, who have found creativity to be “the single most important tool in boosting effectiveness”, Hopkins states that “this applies as powerfully to sponsorship as it does to any other form of communication.
“The core priority for marketers in sponsorship is therefore the same as it is in tackling any brand communications challenge.”
Before a creative platform can be identified, an effective sponsorship strategy has to be developed that is cemented by key insights to ensure the brand can effectively and authentically embed itself with fans.
“These insights are key to understanding the cultural relevance of the sponsorship and the role the brand can play to deliver beneficial impact for the property and its devoted fans, as well as ensuring it delivers significant brand effects,” says Hopkins. (Read more of Neil Hopkins’ advice in his article: Creativity and long-term brand-building through sponsorship.)