Sport and sponsorship: The value of event sponsorship

Nikhil Arora

Australia’s cricketers captured the nation’s attention during their recent run to the semi-final of the ICC Men’s World Cup. While the tournament ultimately ended in defeat, for over a month it provoked a sense of belonging, hope and empowerment for millions of people across Australia. Cricket, and sport in general, has a near-unique ability to empower individuals, irrelevant of their background, demographic or nationality.  

Just as cricket has the power to inspire and capture attention, so too does sponsorship. The sporting notion of empowerment is a mantra shared by GoDaddy: The company empowering everyday entrepreneurs. This formed the basis for GoDaddy India’s decision to sponsor the recent Men’s 2019 Cricket World Cup; we were able to capitalise on cricket’s global popularity to drive greater awareness about the benefits of creating a powerful online identity for small businesses, across all our regions.  

With the marketing industry becoming more targeted and sophisticated, it’s easy to overlook the virtue of sporting event sponsorship. Driven by the evolution of data analytics and an increased accessibility to technology, marketing techniques have made a sizeable transition from traditional to digital methods over the past decade. Today, algorithms provide businesses with unprecedented insights into who to target; when, where and how. Paid advertising, push marketing, email marketing, cause marketing – all are strategies utilised by marketing departments in 2019.  

Individuals who once read a physical newspaper, might now be accessing their news via mobile, and those who watched the news may now be staying informed through social media. As society changes, so too does marketing. But while marketing approaches and technologies are evolving rapidly, traditional event sponsorship remains a crucial tactic within a wider marketing strategy. Indeed, research has found that sports sponsorship is set to increase by four per cent, to a staggering $62bn globally in 2019.  

Clearly, companies are identifying there is competitive advantage to be leveraged through association with, and sponsorship of, prestigious events. Larger visibility, increased credibility and improved image, for example, which fed into our reasoning to partner with the ICC for this year’s Men’s Cricket World Cup. Cricket is a truly global sport, watched or played by over one billion people worldwide; 1.5 million of which are in Australia. With Australia eventually reaching the semi-finals, and neighbours New Zealand the final, that is a significant audience to connect with over the course of the tournament.  

Many people generally feel more comfortable doing business with an organisation they believe is well-regarded. So when a company logo is featured prominently at a prestigious event like the Cricket World Cup, it can instantly elevate the awareness status of the company and their brand. Through event sponsorship alongside other successful brands, companies can leverage the power of collective credibility to help boost their brand reputation.  

There is a lot to be said for connecting with these fans on their own terms, at an event important to them. Contemporary marketing strategies are sometimes criticised by some increasingly sophisticated and socially-conscious consumers for being too invasive. But this cohort may respond better to those brands who do so through an association with a shared interest - the Cricket World Cup, for example. This association can help make a brand more relatable, and in turn, more appealing.  

There isn’t a direct way to measure the effectiveness of event sponsorship like, for example, monitoring the click throughs from email marketing. Indeed, the value of sponsorships may be implicit and long term. It is difficult to measure the audience’s emotional attachment to the sponsoring brand, particularly when it is having a meaningful involvement with individuals and communities through its sponsorship.  

Considering this, it’s perhaps far too early to evaluate the success of GoDaddy’s sponsorship of the Cricket World Cup. But the benefits of sporting sponsorship aren’t solely defined by brand awareness and increased sales.  

Research from a British University found sponsorship of sporting events can have profound effects on an organisation’s workforce. The research suggests that individuals who worked for a company that sponsored a major sporting event ended up feeling proud to be employed by the organisation, thereby boosting their self-esteem, motivation and willingness to work harder.  

It’s a theory I can attest to first-hand. I have spoken to my colleagues across the globe - many of whom are from countries not involved in the tournament - and there has been an immense sense of pride in being associated with a global event celebrating our shared love of competition, community and sport.  

And with the dust now settling, when people look back and reminisce about what was a fantastic global sporting celebration, they might associate their feeling of pride and passion with the brands they saw. And there lies one of the great powers of sporting event sponsorship.

Tags: GoDaddy, marketing strategy, brand strategy, event sponsorship

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