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25. Sponsorship - Is the sign dead?

Over the past few months, we have spoken a lot about Sponsorships and we believe it is a subject that you can never talk enough about. The history of sponsorship can be traced back to the 5th century BC in Ancient Greece. The rich and the affluent paid specific taxes to finance (sponsor) major competitions and public festivities. Sponsorship has come a long way since then and is constantly changing though.

Especially when it comes to sports sponsorship, it has meant so many different things to us over the years even when we didn't know what sponsorship meant. When we saw the Nike tick mark on Roger Federer's shirt, we knew it was a sponsor. When we saw AIG or Vodafone on the Manchester United player's shirt, we knew it was a sponsor. When we saw David Beckham, Roberto Carlos and other footballing legends in a Pepsi commercial, we knew it was a sponsor. When we saw MRF on Sachin Tendulkar's bat every time he walked out to bat, we knew it was a sponsor. We saw sponsors everywhere, on the field, on the players' clothes, their gears, and even in the commercials between the game.

If you go a decade or two back, sponsorship was directly associated with the logos you see on the arena and on the players' clothes. But ever since the advent of the internet, the way people consumed sports content changed and so did sponsorships. Sponsorships evolved as technology evolved, newer categories for sponsorships were created, brands became more concerned about the results and better ways to measure the results were devised.

So the big question today is, are the sponsor signs dead?

In the last decade and a half, we witnessed the outrageous growth of the internet and social media. Today we have more than half a dozen different social media platforms and we are consuming content on these platforms in different formats continuously. And sports clubs and athletes are no longer available to us only during the match days. Today because of these social media platforms, sports clubs and athletes are constantly producing content for us to consume all over the year. This means the fans are engaging with the team and the players on a daily basis through various digital channels. Brands (Sponsors) can now use these channels to maximise their sponsorship via various activities and can also measure the impact they create and the results they generate in real-time.

All this means that brands no longer are only looking for visibility or brand popularity from the sponsorship but they can have various complex goals that they can aim to achieve through a certain sponsorship. The advertisement boards (signs) majorly gave brands visibility and popularity. And in today's day and time, no brand is just looking for visibility and hence no sponsorship is solely about signs anymore.

Sponsorships are now about numbers, metrics and KPIs. They are about likes, shares and reach. Sponsorships as we have discusses earlier as well are no longer about a brand paying a certain sum of money to a club and attaching their name and logo to the team's assets. It's about value creation for the fans, it's about activations. A study suggests, for a successful Sponsorship campaign around 40% of the spend is for acquiring the sponsorship rights and 60% is on creating activations. Which means as a brand you may get yourself up on that signboard, but what you do with it is what determines how good a sponsorship campaign was for the brand.

So, in conclusion, we believe that sponsor signboards aren't exactly dead, but it's on the brands how they make it alive!


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