20. The Sponsorship Evolution

For the past few months now, we have been constantly talking about fan engagement and how it helps to build a club, to grow it and also to acquire new sponsors. But what exactly do sponsors bring to a club? What is sponsorship? Why is Sponsorship so important to sports? And how has sponsorship changed over the years?

What is Sponsorship?

Technically, sponsorship is a financial contribution or a contribution in kind made by a natural or legal person in order to contribute to a certain activity, obtaining in return a series of benefits that publicise the participation of the sponsor in the activity whilst providing it with specific rights to conduct promotional and sales activities directly or indirectly related to the activity in question.

Ultimately, sponsorship is characterised by the exchange of tangible or intangible assets or benefits between the sponsor and the beneficiary in order to allow a certain project or activity to be carried out.

That is, the sponsor provides a financial contribution, advertising, or a contribution in kind and the beneficiary offers benefits that allow the brand to be associated with certain values, boost sales, promote products and services, foster innovation or develop institutional relations, etc.

What is the role of sponsorship?

Through sponsorship, brands can support the activities that their customers like, associating themselves with sponsorable entities that have strong emotional links with the audience. Sponsorship allows the message to be transmitted through the activity, so it is a more subtle communication tool, integrated into the experience of the event or activity.

In a communication situation like today’s, where brands have to constantly strengthen their emotional links with their target consumer, sponsorship is a direct platform for interaction that allows a brand to stand out from the rest. Sponsorship is getting more effective at generating and feeding dialogue between the company and its target consumers, which is highly valuable to both parties.

Sponsorships over the years

Sponsorships are no longer just about hoardings on walls of the arena or getting your logo printed on the team jersey. It's 2021, a post-pandemic digital world, where everything is data-driven and so is sports sponsorships. Brands (sponsors) and the corresponding entities (clubs/teams/federations) work closely together to create experiences that will work best to attract the fans and create value for all parties involved. These practices have been constantly improving based on data that is being collected and researched upon constantly. Today, sponsorships are all about the activations that are created. It's about making the fans feel that they are not being sold to. And it is about the values of the brands and the team matching.

With the world quickly adopting a digital lifestyle, more and more digital activations are being incorporated into the current sponsorship structures and it will not be surprising if in future we see pure digital sponsorships only.


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