In MotoGP, Sport Sponsorship, Sports Marketing

RTR Sports Marketing’s trademark catchphrase is: “providing world-class consultancy to companies wishing to use sports to build a better engagement with their clients”. Let’s focus on the last bit for a second.

Why should a company use sport to communicate with their clients? How is sport supposed to accomplish such important marketing tasks as building a stronger brand preference, shifting the customers’ behavior and efficiently encompass a brand’s vision and mission?

Sure, sport is a fantastic entertainer and possibly one of the greatest socializers. But marketing? Sales? To better understand that, and why a sports marketing agency do what they do, we need to take a step back.

How we are distracted: the the rise and fall of traditional ADV

According to Forbes (‘Finding Brand Success in the Digital World’, 2017), each and every day most Americans are exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 ads each day. If that looks like an exorbitant figure, we’ve got excellent news for you: your brain is working just fine and your cognitive defenses are alive and kicking.

Truth is we are surrounded by commercial messages: from radio commercials when we drive to the office, to that billboard we stroll by, from those Facebook ads when we scroll through the timelines, to that website banner that just won’t go away.

For the past fifty or seventy years our species had to learn how to cope with unwanted pieces of communication that are relentlessly following us on every device at any time of the day. The more we dodged them, the more copious they had to be to catch our attention. The more numerous, the stronger our barriers.

Needless to say, in this everlasting fight for attention, brands are losing impressive amounts of money. And customers are losing their patience.

Of course in this piece we are not going to embark on an uncalled-for crusade against the patriarchy of traditional advertising. A good commercial is still important in every business’ marketing plan. Rather, we’ll try to understand why sports marketing can be super effective in the scenario, and take a look at our four Horsemen:

  • Intrusion VS Inclusion
  • Be where the customer wants you to be
  • The Learn, Feel, Do paradigm
  • How sport is embedding your brand’s values.

Intrusion VS Inclusion

As we mentioned, our coping mechanisms have become so sophisticated we don’t even realize they’re there anymore. but still, when a commercial break cuts of the TV show we’re watching, we go and do the dishes or check our phone.

One of the main differences between traditional advertising and sports marketing is that the first in intrusive while the latter is inclusive. Watch a game and you’ll pay close attention to the brand that’s stitched to the players’ jersey, or to the sticker on a MotoGP bike during a thrilling last-lap fight.

In a world where people are running away from what they never asked for, make sure your brand is exactly where the eyeballs are.

A shared passion

It’s not just a matter of being front and center in the camera shot, of course (even if that helps a lot). Studies and researches clearly show that fans and consumers want brands that share their same interests and passions.

Think about it and it makes a lot of sense: in this day and age for each and every product there are tens, hundreds of brands making that very same thing. How many shoes companies, phone companies, car makers, garments manufacturers, computer assemblers are out there? It’s just fair that customers would go for someone that’s like-minded.

Sport is one of our era’s greatest entertainers, but also something that’s touching our hearts, our minds and that has a lot to do with our happiness and well being. Psychologists would say it has a lot to do with our affective side, meaning our emotions and our feelings. Consumers want brands to be there in that special moment, for their special team, in that special day or game.

Learn, feel, do

Our affective side is also heavily involved in our decision-making process and in how we shape and change our behaviors. Contrary to what we might think, we do not act based on what we know alone (our so-called cognitive side), but also on how we feel about something. While something that we don’t necessarily associate with our buying patterns, it’s something most of us have experienced more than once: our reactions are very different if we feel or care about something.

This paradigm has a name: the Learn-Feel-Do cycle. And sports marketing is extremely effective on that front.

With sponsorship, customers obtain information about a brand or company because they see it on a football kit or racing motorcycle. They start feeling about that brand or company, as it’s linked to an emotional activity or event. Once that association is done, they change their behavior and start acting more favorably towards that brand.

Embedding values

Finally, sponsorship is super helpful for brand-repositioning operations and product placement activities, as it has the ability to coat that product or that service with the values and features of the sponsored sport, team or athlete.

It’s no surprise different sports have different audiences and values and qualities: sailing is elegant, luxurious and generally meant for the rich, while cycling is more popular and rooted in a “no pain no gain” type of culture.

In the eyes of the customer, these values and propositions immediately translate onto the sponsored product or brand. For example, motorsport sponsorship is super effective if you want to convey ideas of technology, passion, speed, cutting edge technology and teamwork.

Let the flowers bloom

We’d happily dwell on the amount of theory behind the effectiveness of sponsorship. If, on the one hand, we must admit it’s a guilty pleasure to browse through the dozens of theories giving body and credit to sports marketing, we also believe it’s also important to let our clients know that there’s a strong foundation to the campaigns we design together.

There’s a lot of science behind the marketing of sport -from the immense amount of data that’s needed to make a strong decision to the impressive array of technologies that marketers can employ to measure the effectiveness of sponsorship- and we can’t stress enough that there’s more than meets the eye in a great partnership program. A sports marketing agency can offer a good view on this impressive scenario, clearly pointing at the different nuances and options, but also knowing why things happen the way they do.

Emanuele Venturoli
Communication Manager for RTR Sports Marketing. A degree in Communication at the University of Bologna and a passion for sport brought me where I'm today.
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