Leveraging the power of sport sponsorships to grow your brand

PHD Australia group trading director Sasko Bosilkovski
By PHD Australia group trading director Sasko Bosilkovski | 28 March 2019

In today’s age of constant consumer engagement, a logo on a jersey or a one-off sport sponsorship is simply not enough to justify the value of your live sport involvement these days. The price is just too high.

However, live sport is a great platform where you can still engage with significantly high audience numbers (see the below table highlighting audience numbers of Australian sport).

I've previously talked about how the cost premiums for buying into Australia's premier sporting events are warranted in comparison to general entertainment.

There simply aren’t many general entertainment programs out there today that deliver the same audience numbers as live sport.

Live Sport    Projection (Total People)
AFL Grand Final 3,173,514
NRL Grand Final 2,351,828
NRL State of Origin (series average) 2,269,002
Australian Open Tennis Men's & Women's Final (average) 1,484,984
Australian Test Cricket (series average) 633,000

Big Bash League Cricket (series average)



*Note: Adquest eTAM, Network 5 cap city & 4 agg panel, consolidated projections 2018 & 2019, Total People, Sun-Sat

Sport still offers one of the few moments that prove live broadcast is not dead. And with its wide availability on multiple channel platforms, it is even more important for brands to have seamless integration and provide consumers an immersive experience within the live sport event.

Here are two points for brands to consider in order to unlock even greater value out of their sponsorships.

Longer engagement periods than just on Game Day

Sport sponsorships offer huge opportunities for brands to be genuinely engaging and innovative with their campaigns.

Brands are now able to start building up content and excitement pre-, during and post-game day to keep the conversation going.

With exclusivity in live broadcast sponsorship now a rarity, and an exponential increase in the selection of viewing options available for live sporting events, finding new and different ways to stand out and engage consumers is no longer an option, but a necessity.

Additionally, consistency builds memorability. This means extending the reach of campaigns far beyond game time, using in-store merchandising, supporting media and new product launches to maximise the investment.

It’s about maximising reach and building up the conversation well before and after Game Day, and taking consumers on a journey with your own storyline.

The more you can drive conversation, the more people are going to want to engage with the content. A couple of recent examples include PepsiCo’s activities during the 2019 Superbowl 53, ANZ and Uber Eats with the Australian Open Tennis, as each created a storyline pre- and during the game, and built on the conversation along the way.

PepsiCo have a long-term deal with the NFL, Toyota have just signed till 2023 with the AFL and we’ll have to whether Uber Eats continues with the Australian Open next year, but all have created talk-ability and brand affinity among the sporting events’ audiences with their memorable campaigns.

Measuring the right (long-term) metrics when it comes to live sport

Too many brands trade off reach for a sports association and then leave after a year. Association with a certain event over time brings benefits that impact brand perception and imagery. 

The risk rises when brands are opportunistic, picking and choosing events based on short-term returns.

From a trader’s perspective, sport attracts incredibly high numbers and therefore, sponsorships should not just be a one-off event but a continued partnership to capture maximum reach and build trust with consumers.

Live sport also enables brands to drive engagement, and therefore are able to offset the cost premiums associated with it, as in FTA TV markets become increasingly harder to come by.

This means ensuring we deliver against both reach and engagement metrics when measuring the ROI of a sports sponsorship.

Sport sponsorships can certainly bring many positives to a brand, such as the benefits of being associated with an immensely popular brand like the AFL/NRL and what that in turn says about our brand in the eyes of the consumer.

It’s a balancing act though, as the key to success is consistency. Leveraging multi-year commitments can help improve the cost position by getting higher rate discounts and greater guarantees.

While it may be expensive for most brands to land a multi-year sport sponsorship deal, creating consistency over time can be achieved through unofficial endorsements and targeted activities as well.

Lastly, I leave you with some food for thought: it’s not just the brands that benefit from memorable sport sponsorships; when done right, both the brand and the live sport event have something to gain from the other’s success.

Take Pepsi’s longstanding pop-culture influence on the Superbowl. So take the plunge and explore the opportunities presented by sport sponsorships to help your brand grow.

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