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People would not care if 77% of brands disappeared.

The truth is, brands are already disappearing because of the pandemic. How could sport help to fill that gap in meaning?

The sports sponsorship market fell from $46.1 billion in 2019 to $28.9 billion in 2020, a 37% decrease. A significant hit which leads to controversial views, as Mike Wragg from Nielsen Sports stated that “sponsorship revenues are set to rebound strongly over the next year and could reach higher levels than before COVID-19”.

From my perspective, it will be very difficult to see sports properties at their best commercial shape in 2021. A redesign towards profoundly different commercial relationships that prioritise synergies in business models will become more than necessary. Packs of hospitality, merchandising and exposure are just complementary now.

Talking differently

“I don’t think we would be where we are today if it wasn’t for football”.

Ricardo Fort, Coca-Cola’s Vice-President of Global Sports and Entertainment Partnerships, reflected with FIFA Professional Football Division about the long relationship of the company with football.

While in the ‘50s, the main reason for sponsoring events was to primarily access to product exposure for fans in stadiums. Later on, sport became a relevant source of awareness to break through fans’ top of mind.

“Awareness has become less important, we communicate our stories now”. Brands need more than ever to reposition their communication to adapt to today’s society. Football is an excellent vehicle to get to the core of fan passion.

But, for Coca-Cola, being involved with the FIFA World Cup since 1958 and more than 250 clubs worldwide is not enough, being their deal with FIFA valued at 330 million euros. “Football is consumed everyday”, this is why brands intensively compete for people’s daily limited attention.

Considering that the digital ecosystem is no longer digital but real, the big opportunity to build successful commercial relationships lies in the segmentation of digital products for specific audiences, playing technology a big role.

For example, a diversified digital offer could include training exclusive footage, the starting XI or the goal of the month. Manchester City fans can vote for the Nissan Goal of the Month, the Rexona Move of the Match or the TECNO Mobile Shot of the Game.

More than social

Social responsibility issues will go far beyond putting the tag of eco-friendly or in favour of equality. Standing where it matters within a community will be measured by how much a brand will be missed, rather than tracking campaign views.

Safety, well-being, health, grassroots development, volunteering or nutrition are some territories clubs have started to leverage. Which brands will be remembered by standing by us during the pandemic?

Beko, together with FC Barcelona, launched a successful campaign named ‘Eat Like a Pro’. An initiative designed to tackle childhood obesity worldwide through a wide variety of content in which first team players share their best diets.

NBA Cares works with 31 partners, including UNICEF and Save the Children, in order to support youth programmes in areas like education, family development and health. A programme that attracted prestigious brands, as Kia became its official automotive partner.

A rising monetisation

Women’s sports are on the right track to build their own sustainable business. According to Deloitte, 66% of people are interested in at least one women’s sport, and among sports fans that percentage increases to 84%.

In 2021, women’s sports revenues are predicted to be well under a billion dollars, very far from the global value of all sports revenues of $481 billion in 2018. Likewise, women’s football is also very distant from what it was some years ago.

Last year, the French Olympique Lyonnais Groupe secured 89,5% stake in NWSL’s Seattle-based team for $3.15 million. Real Madrid launched its own women’s team in July 2019 after acquiring CD Tacón for 500,000€.

Not back to normal, but to a new better.

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