In Sport Sponsorship

Contrary to a traditional communication campaign motorsports sponsorship must be managed. Not only the general plan needs to be monitored, but there are dozens of activities linked to a sponsorship programme that have to be carefully handled. Just to give you an example:

  • Guests at the track
  • Use of the showbike
  • Rider to a Pr Event
  • Production of co-branded merchandising

In our experience, there are 4 main problems linked to a MotoGP or Motorsport sponsorship program. Let’s try and see them.

1) Motorsport Sponsorship has to be managed

The possibility to have some guests at a MotoGP event is fantastic but, since the teleportation it’s still not a thing of our days, you have to add some logistic effort to get the guests there…So from the invitation to means of transport, from hotels to side events such as dinners and entertainment to name a few.

Races, sometimes, are held in areas not necessarily rich in Hotels, so you have to plan in advance and have a good knowledge of the geographic area to get a good solution. Same applies to good restaurants or those black Mercedes van that convey such a good corporate feeling. I skip on the other examples, you can imagine that there is quite a lot of work to implement any and each activity and to exploit the motorsport sponsorship to the fullest.

2) There are so many opportunities that it could be overwhelming

Further to the 4 examples, I made you can use the team or the rider in a myriad of activities…. Maybe too many if you do not have a clear plan. It is similar to heading into a Mall in the USA looking for a product, it is highly likely that you’ll end up facing an endless shelf of similar products, in the beginning, it could be overwhelming. It takes a bit of time to find your own way in the aisle and with it you learn to appreciate the larger choice with a motorsport sponsorship.

3) People still think that Motorsport sponsorship cannot be measured

This is a fake problem, there are companies capable of measuring either the ROI in terms of commercial visibility (how much should have I spent to gain the same visibility?) and how the sponsorship impacts on the bottom line. Nielsen Sport is one of those companies.

4) Uncertainty of sports performance/doping/disqualification

If the team you support doesn’t win or perform as you hoped for,  doesn’t mean that the marketing results will necessarily be poor. If your marketing activities are well planned you can still reap great result…. It is true though that victory always brings with it a big bonus.

Passion for sport is capable of building a strong bond between fans and team/riders, to make clear what I am talking about, I use two great Italian sports Icons as examples, Ferrari and Inter. Would you say that the relationship between Ferrari’s and Inter’s supporters and their beloved team has weakened? I do not think so.  Years spent in stadiums enduring bitter disappointments, or on track overtaken by the silver arrows…without uncertainty or rethinking.

I think that boyfriends, wives or husbands do not benefit from the same treatment. On the other hand and to confirm what I wrote Ferrari and Inter are capable to attract top Class Sponsors every year, testimony to the fact that the appeal of the two Italian outfits is not diminished and that they are an excellent marketing tool. Let’s say that sponsoring a MotoGP team is like becoming part of an exclusive club, you meet people and build the relationship, sometimes you strike a deal and every now and again you win. If the sponsorship package is properly assembled you will always get a positive ROI.

Doping, this is a real problem for any sport. To cover this risk you have to protect your company on a contractual level and insert heavy penalties in the contract. This either in case the team or the athlete get disqualified.

An emergency plan must be in place in case such an emergency arises.  The PR agency and the Company’s communication officer would have examined any scenario in advanced and will be ready to minimize the damage

MotoGP Sponsorship: how to overcome these problems

1) Work with a sports marketing agency, it does not necessarily have to be RTR Sports, but It must be expert in the field you are entering

Someone that knows the players and the rules of the game and that keeps you away from mistakes, someone that saves you time and money. Great professionals in other areas but with no mileage in the Paddock, need time to gain the necessary experience needed to manage complex programs that have to be implemented within another event that has different priorities from yours, and a set schedule, built around the races to be broadcasted at a certain time.  Do not exclude them, just support them with someone that can avoid missteps and capable of spotting all the upcoming opportunities.

2) The same thing applies to point 2 (overwhelming). Work with a sports marketing agency

I suggest you choose the agency on the basis of its case histories. I am sure the agency will be able to suggest you which are the activities that are more doable, with the highest possibility to succeed and that can be executed smoothly. Always consider that the team personnel and the riders have a fixed calendar during the year dictated by the 19 races and a tight schedule when they are at the track.

3) Consider hiring an independent agency to measure the Motorsport Sponsorship

It is highly likely that the teams will give you some reports. Generally, these reports contain a commercial evaluation of the time in second that your team has gained and an overview/evaluation of the digital activities that the team execute on various social media platforms. If you want to play safe you can talk with one of the independent agencies that do that eg Nielsen sport (if you need contacts just ask us). Moreover If you are planning a large sponsorship you can have an ex-ante research to analyze how much, the areas of the motorbike you are buying, were seen in the previous 2 or three years so to have a ballpark ROI (obviously you have to take into account that any sport season is different so it is imperative that someone from the circus gives you some advice about the  potential competitiveness of the team). By doing so you will be better equipped to talk about the budget with the team and inside your organization.

4) A great Lawyer – the sector has it own specificity

Even Multinational companies have to use someone expert of the sector, if their legal team doesn’t encompass someone specialized in sport it is better to ask the support of a specialist capable of examining and  covering all the risks

Can we help you sign your best sponsorship deal?

Riccardo Tafà
Riccardo Tafà
Managing Director for RTR Sports, Riccardo graduated in law at the University of Bologna. He began his career in London in PR, then started working in two and four-wheelers. A brief move to Monaco followed before returning to Italy. There he founded RTR, first a consulting firm and then a sports marketing company which, eventually, he moved back to London.
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