In Sport Sponsorship, Sports Marketing

injuries-sponsorshipIt’s a risk that must be taken into account when sponsoring a sports star or an athlete: that they might, unfortunately, find themselves injured and out of the game – for a few weeks, an entire season, or even longer.

Of course, this can have a hugely negative impact on the visibility that they have on the track, court, field – or whichever arena it is that they’re reliably expected to be performing upon. Those sponsoring them are relying on them being present in order to ensure their brand’s coverage, so an injury can really throw off a sports sponsorship campaign – one that has potentially had a huge amount of time and money invested into it.

So, what factors do we need to weigh up when it comes to injuries and sports sponsorship?

Ensuring the game isn’t the entire focus

Many of the biggest sports stars are as influential outside the pitch/court/track/as they are on it, so if you’re sponsoring an athlete it’s likely to be a good business decision to leverage part of your campaign towards activities outside of these arenas – whether that’s as a brand champion, in TV advertising, or in campaigns across social media. Ensuring that your sponsorship campaign includes more than a name or logo on a sweater, and instead utilizes every avenue possible for exposure, means that if your chosen athlete does injure themselves you have other avenues to explore to ensure your campaign can still be a success.

Ensuring loyalty and visibility

A benefit to this approach is that with injury, unlike with scandal or misbehavior, your sponsored athlete is very unlikely to lose their reputation – so their fanbase (and those you’re hoping will respond well to your sponsorship) will continue to support them whether they’re playing every week or not. After all, popularity and reputation can be just as powerful a tool as sporting success. Your challenge is ensuring that the alternatives that you put in place have as much exposure as possible. Strategic decision-making in order to guarantee results is needed in this case.

Considering the risk/reward

Of course, sponsoring an individual rather than a tournament or team presents more risk – the latter two options mean exposure is guaranteed in the event of any injury with an athlete this isn’t the case – and there is little you can do about this. The question you need to ask is whether the fanbase and influence of the athlete out ways the risk of them being injured. If the answer is yes, and your brand is able to leverage enough flexibility to still ensure ROI in the case of an injury, you have your answer.

Making sure you’re covered

What’s the easiest way to ensure that you can utilize the above options in your sports sponsorship campaign without conflict between yourself and the athlete’s managers?

The easiest way is to make sure there’ a clause written into your contract from the beginning, which guarantees a change in the assets available or the specifics of a campaign being flexible in the event of an injury.

To do this, it’s important to enlist the help of a team of sports sponsorship experts – those who can negotiate deals and contracts and advise on your behalf, especially if you don’t have a huge amount of experience in managing the legal side of such deals.

If you wish to have more information about sponsorships read Sponsorship Activation.

RTR Sports Marketing can help you with this – if you want to discuss options or learn more about sports sponsorship, get in contact with us today.


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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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