In Sport Sponsorship

Stadiums and on track advertising: the main difference between the use of advertising boards and the sponsorship of a team. There is only one way of dealing with this subject: brutally.

The signage around the ground, for me, is not worth much if compared to partnerships with teams or athletes. It can be a good complement and get the company CEO to feel good when he enters and sees his posters and the stadium dressed up in his colours, but apart from that…There is little.

Think about it for a moment, if you go to the stadium to watch your beloved team, where is your attention? I bet on the action…On the ball.

So, if you look with eager eyes at the ball pursued by your heroes who wear the shirt that you dreamt about for years, what attention do you give to the sideline billboards?

Let’s take a minute for an experiment and everything will be clearer.
Start the movie by clicking this youtube video and count the passes made by the team wearing the white shirt.

Surprised? There is nothing to be surprised of; obviously, the public’s eyes follow the action.

Billboards enter the visual field of the viewers as part of the outline; they do not bother or interrupt the vision (such as TV commercials) and therefore do not create any bad feelings towards the exposed brands. Still, the Brands on the signage do not represent the center of attention and they need a very long time to be remembered.

sponsor a team sportToo many brands exhibited

If, during a game, you are shown (and nowadays with the LEDs it is easy to do so) dozens if not hundreds of brands, in the end, you will not remember any of them. In the most important competitions such as the Champions League or the MotoGP Championship, and in the stadiums of some forward-looking teams, you will notice that there are only a few brands on display, which makes them more frequently seen.

A higher frequency of exposure of the brands corresponds to a greater advertising pressure exerted on the spectator. The end result is that spectators associate in a shorter time the Brand with the event/team.

I limit myself to this and avoid entering a too technical path, but if you are intrigued, we can always refer to a subsequent personal contact using

Let’s talk about what happens if you join a team or an athlete and embed your brand on them instead. First of all, you are the focus of the public’s attention. Fans see the object of their passion linked to your brand, thus generating an increase in visibility…your brand becomes familiar (brand awareness), then preferred (brand preference) and this process leads your brand to be chosen when the fans decide what to buy (purchase intention).

There are studies that show how this path leads, in nine cases out of ten, to the actual purchase. Customers nowadays must be won creating an emotional link between them and the brand and sport can be used as a catalyzer to make it happen.

Exposing the brand on a team or an athlete creates a real emotional bond between brands and consumers who associate it/him/her with the object of their passion. And it is emotions that differentiate products that, in many cases, are fungible.

In this piece we have mentioned only the attention as a differentiating element, there are many others that we will deal with later, and I will name a few:

  • Plenty of activation sponsorship opportunities vs only brand exposure with stadium brand signage;
  • Favorable perception of the brand associated and functional to the performance of the activity. E.g. the sponsor finances the purchase of the league’s top scorer;
  • Spikes of visibility linked to the performance e.g. the team wins an important competition. So your ROI can have a boost while with track signage you always get only what you pay;
  • The chance to be dragged into a virtuous circle of communication that multiplies your visibility (e.g. the other sponsors produce promotional or communication material using the image of the team and your brand is included, benefiting from the exposure generated by others.)

If you have any curiosities about sponsorship and how to become a sponsor you can reach us at

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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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