In Motorsports, Sport Sponsorship, Sports Marketing

When we talk about Sports Sponsorship Programs and sponsorship rights (and particularly sponsorship activations), 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. 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 sponsorship activation 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.

Silvia Schweiger
Sport has always been my passion and I was lucky enough to be able to make it my job too. Graduated in Foreign Languages ​​and Literatures, with a Master in Marketing and Communication, for 20 years I have been offering consultancy to companies wishing to use sport as a marketing and communication tool to better engage with their target and reach their objectives. Without sport, life is boring.
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