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24. Influencer Marketing vs Sports Sponsorship

Last week we spoke about what influencer marketing is all about. Today, we try to take the conversation forward and compare it with another form of marketing that has grown tremendously in the last decade or two - Sports Sponsorship.


At face value, Sponsorship and influencer marketing look very similar. Brands pay an entity a certain amount of money (and/or in-kind payments) and in return, the entity helps you promote your brand and your products among their fans. But there is one difference, sponsorships are usually done with teams, tournaments or boards (also players sometimes though), and sponsorships are done for long periods of time (usually years).


Whereas Influencer collaborations are done usually on a post basis and in most cases, the campaigns do not last more than a few weeks. But there have been instances where brands work with influencers constantly and for longer periods (in some cases years).


Also, with the advent of social media, athletes themselves have now turned into influencers and 3 of the 10 biggest Instagram influencers are athletes, namely Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr.


But from a company perspective, what really differs between Sponsorship and Influencer Marketing is the intangible assets that sports sponsorship brings to the table. Sports stand for certain values, they have an emotional meaning for their fans. When you start sponsoring a certain sports team, you are buying into the loyalty of those fans, and at the same time you are associating your brand with the values the team and the sport stands for. With influencers, this is very rare to find.


Also, when we compare marketing strategies, the most important factor to consider is the goals and the impacts the said campaign would have. Every company ventures into a marketing activity in order to achieve certain goals and every marketing activity will have tangible and intangible impacts associated with them. And this is where we believe Responsible Marketing plays a huge role. Because a company that intends to be competitive in the long run doesn’t only think about making profits, it thinks about bringing a change and creating value for its customers and society in general.


And from a Responsible Marketing perspective, Sponsorships will always be a better option than Influencer Marketing. First, Sports and sports teams are relevant beyond generations, they cater to different age groups and some of them even have a legacy of over 100 years. And that association and credibility is something you would want to be associated with. Whereas on the other hand, influencers have a very small shelf life. They may be relevant today but will they be relevant tomorrow? Nobody knows for sure. Also from a societal point of view, clubs are a part of the community and they give back to the community and add value to the community and every single person within the community. On the other hand, 90% of the influencers today only promote a lavish lifestyle and brag about the good life they are living. And this isn’t really a good influence on the younger generation.


When a brand collaborates with an influencer and pays them a certain sum of money, do the brands know where this money is going? Do they care what use the money they just paid was put into use for? Well, we believe they should and that's what responsible marketing is all about.


When it comes to a sports club, you know the money being paid to the club is going into the running of the club, the salaries, the resources, the grassroots and the academies and also to the community and society. But when it comes to an 'influencer', more often than not it goes to fund the 'instagramable lifestyle' of the said influencer. This only leads to more and more kids idolizing a lifestyle that's fake and unhealthy.


Again, we aren't saying all influencers are the same. There are some really good ones who actually add value to their particular niche and try to educate their audience. But the majority of the influencers out there today are just showing off their luxurious lifestyle and that we think isn't a smart choice for a brand to collaborate with.


That is why we believe Sponsorship especially in sports is what will be a more effective and sustainable marketing strategy for brands over influencer marketing. Do you agree?


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