In Motorsports, Sport Sponsorship, Sports Marketing

When we talk about Sports Sponsorship Programs and sponsorship rights (and particularly activation of sponsorship), we often encounter doubts and a bit of confusion. What is the difference between sponsorship rights and sponsorship activation? Are they not the same thing?

Let’s try to clarify and explain, in a simple way, how not only they are not the same thing, but how one requires the other in order to exist.

Sponsorship rights

Let’s start from the beginning: when someone, for example a company, signs a sponsorship agreement with a team, an event or a testimonial, they acquire the rights to use and exploit the image of the team (sponsorship rights). What does that mean? It means that the company can use the name, fame and image of the sponsored subject for its marketing and communication activities.

A basic example: my company would like to become a sponsor of a MotoGP team. I can invest a certain budget for the project and I negotiate with the team, through a contract, what marketing rights I can get with that budget. Marketing rights usually vary according to the budget invested, but in general we can say that, for example, the sponsor can acquire these opportunities:

  • to use the image of the team and rider in their communication activities: for example in advertising campaigns, on social media, catalogs, newsletters and all the marketing materials
  • to use the label “title sponsor”, “main sponsor”, “official sponsor” or “official partner” (depending on the budget invested) in their communication activities, on social media, on their packaging
  • to have their logo displayed on the motorbikes and leathers and on the team’s communication materials
  • to be able to use special and unique contents and share them through their own communication channels
  • to create ad hoc content using the team and the riders (zoom calls with employees or clients or customers)
  • to have the rider (s) available for promotional activities / events / presentations / incentive programs
  • to have a variable number of passes available for customers and stakeholders

And lots more: these are in fact just a few examples of sponsorship rights that a sponsor can acquire and that can be used for the duration of the sponsorship contract, allowing the sponsors to communicate the partnership for their commercial purposes. The same thing happens if a company sponsors an athlete, a championship or a single event. Sponsorship rights give me the opportunity to communicate the sponsorship and therefore associate my company with the sporting entity, thus sharing its values, objectives and fame. I join the MotoGP team because the values of excellence, technology, speed, research, innovation are also mine and I want to communicate them strongly to my target.

Sponsorship Activation

And this is where the activation of sponsorship comes into play: the set of activities that a company or its sports sponsorship agency schedule and plan to promote their products by taking advantage of the sponsorship in place. They are therefore additional activities that can be organized precisely because, as a sponsor, the sponsorship rights have been acquired. These activities are designed ad hoc for or by each specific company based on marketing and commercial objectives and can therefore be of various types.

Some examples of sponsorship activation:

  • Promotions aimed directly at the consumer: buy my product and participate in the draw for prizes related to the MotoGP Team, or win a day with your favorite rider
  • Promotions and incentive programs aimed at the sales force: upon reaching the sales target, you are invited to the home Grand Prix or win the riders’s day in your store for autographs and photos
  • All promotional activities conveyed through social media
  • All internal incentive activities: use of the MotoGP team to create team spirit

The limit is then the sky: you just have to be really creative and try your best to come up with as many activations as possible to reach your customers and make the most out of the sponsorship rights you have acquire. A sport sponsorship program doesn’t work by itself, it has to be exploited to help your company to achieve your goals.

Can we help you sign your best sponsorship deal?

Silvia Schweiger
Silvia Schweiger
Associate Director, Executive Marketing and Commercial at RTR Sports Marketing, a London-based sports marketing company specializing in motorsport for over 25 years.
Recent Posts
Showing 2 comments
  • Ashten

    Silvia, I completely agree with your analysis of how sponsorship rights and sponsorship activation differ. From overseeing the activation of many sports sponsorships, I have noticed a fair amount of companies do not take full advantage of their sponsorship rights, which ends up wasting some of their money and time they are investing into the sponsorship and therefore, the sponsorship does not seem as fruitful to them. However, when you have consistent communication with the sports organization, a company can make the most of their sponsorship assets by capitalizing on opportunities in front of fans and guests. When aware, sports organizations can work together with their sponsors (and are more than likely thrilled to do so) to advance the brand awareness of the supporting company and the team in and around the community. Thank you so much for diving into this topic, and I look forward to more articles centered around sponsorships.

    • Silvia

      Ashten, thanks a lot for reading my article and for taking the time to leave such an interesting comment. You’re absolutely right, there are so many examples of companies that do not fully exploit all the sponsorship rights they acquire and sometimes it’s because they don’t know what they should do and they think it’s the sport organization that should provide ideas and guidance. I hope we can provide some more articles for you to read, I really appreciate your point of view and ideas and please let me know if you have some specific topics you’re more interested in.

Leave a Comment

formula and sponsorship