Sports events have the power of attraction. They are able to pull in people from all walks of life and across generations into one singular platform. The infiltration of technology has made any localised sporting events a shared form of global entertainment.
“Sports marketing allows brands to piggyback on the sentiments and devotions of fans towards their favourite teams and athletes,” says Kiyoshi Tatani, president of Mizuno Singapore. And brands are fast learning how to use this to their benefit.
According to a study by research organisation A.T. Kearney, the market for sporting events was worth US$80 billion in 2014. During the FIFA World Cup last year, globally, more than three billion people watched at least a minute of the major football event and the media rights were worth as much as US$1.7 billion in total.
Yet, the report cited the World Cup to be only a small fraction of sports’ total economic impact within the scope of the global sports events market.
The same study cited market revenue for sports events in 2014 from the sale of tickets, media rights and sponsorships was worth nearly US$80 billion. Tying that in with sporting goods, apparel, equipment and health and fitness spending, the sports industry generates as much as US$700 billion yearly. This, according to A.T. Kearney, is just 1% of the global GDP.
Evolution of sports marketing
In a conversation with Marketing, Lucien Boyer, president and global CEO of Havas Sports & Entertainment, explains that in the 1970s associating with a sports team or event simply meant buying a sponsorship package to grab eyeballs and expose your brand.
If a team did well, the brand would be associated with a great success story. If it did not succeed, brands at least had the consumer’s emotions at that point of time. If a brand was savvy enough, it could possibly craft a story to get a journalist’s attention – but even then it might not be exactly what the brand had in mind.
“But essentially the brand sponsorship story essentially ended there,” Boyer says.
Fast-forward to modern-day sports marketing, negotiations have taken a completely different turn.
Today, buying a hefty sports sponsorship package does not do anything for your brand if you cannot generate a meaningful conversation with your target audience.
“What is important today is not that you are exposing your brand, but rather that people are talking about your brand. You can’t just hope for people to notice your brand because there are so many brand exposures that people do not really pay attention,” Boyer says.
He adds that in modern-day sports marketing, the concept of buying eyeballs is dead and brands need to earn the attention by connecting with the consumers.
“It is not about touch-points anymore, it is about passion points and connection.”
Brands today need to find a reason to be in the arena and create share-worthy content which gets consumers involved. Echoing similar sentiments is Nicholas Ionides, vice-president of public affairs for Singapore Airlines, who says that it is the right fit that matters.
“We can only speak from our own perspective, and we would put it this way – we would not be doing this if we did not feel it was right for us,” he says.
Both the SEA Games and the Singapore Grand Prix are exciting events on Singapore’s sporting calendar and through the brand’s involvement it is able to enhance both tourism and sports for the benefit of Singaporeans and visitors alike.
Sports and sports marketing involve blockbuster fixtures won or lost by defining moments. These moments are determined by the quality of decision-making and pre-determined strategies. However, here’s the real kicker: Technology. When purposefully adopted, it is a proven game changer. Anurag Dahiya, head of content and advertising sales for group consumer at Singtel writes.
Read the three key trends that will change sports marketing here.
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