In Sport Sponsorship

A largely growing trend in the context of sports marketing is the creation of a marketing bond between sports and the geographical areas where sports events take place.

On the one hand, all great sports events share the peculiarity of placing the location of the event in full view of hundred million people. The connection between a sports event and the location is so strong that the territory and the sport become an unbreakable couple. Take Indianapolis 500 or Daytona: the races have given such a specific identity to their respective locations that they are now indelible in popular culture. On other occasions territories use the Football World Cup, the Olympic Games or the Grand Prix to revitalise their image and stand out on the world map, as is the case with Sochi in Russia, Baku in Azerbaijan or south-eastern Asian countries.

On the other hand, when they cannot organise or host large sports events, territories tend to more and more frequently use sport and sports sponsorship for the remote promotion of their offer with potential tourists or investors. The widely debated “Visit Rwanda” printed on the jerseys of the Arsenal players and many similar initiatives are good examples of the above.

To recap, there are two possible ways to create the bond between sports events and territories:

  1. a Nation, region or city may organise sports events in their own territory with a view to promoting the country’s economy and marketing positioning. This is known as “geomarketing” operations or territorial marketing;
  2. a Nation, region or city may use sports sponsorships with teams/clubs or athletes, who are geographically far from them, to improve the visibility of their territory and to attract tourists and investors.

Objectives do affect the choice

As stated above, a large sports event immediately has the power to place a location, a city or a nation under the spotlight. In many cases, such as the Olympic Games or the Football World Cup, the sports event also becomes a good occasion to modernise the existing infrastructures, to build new districts in the city and to reorganise the transport system. It serves the purpose of showing the world one’s best side and, at the same time, it helps to jumpstart local enterprises and to bring credit to the city prestige. Barcelona, where the Olympic Games contributed to the radical transformation of both the city and its suburbs, may be referenced as an evident example of the above.

On the other hand, when a Nation, a geographical area or a municipality decide to host one of the stops of a great travelling event such as Formula E (discover the Formula E Agency) or MotoGP, the purpose is very likely to be more tactical and the benefits originating from the positive economic repercussions on the territory are expected to come in a shorter time. The industry of hospitality, overall, including shops and other businesses, draws enormous advantages from the huge feasting audience that fill the city for a whole weekend.

Why sport? Does it really work? An example connected to awareness: Imola and F1

Have you ever been to Imola? I bet few of you have, respectfully but honestly speaking. Imola is a nice town in Romagna with approx. sixty thousand inhabitants. Although the town is well-known for its ceramics, its worldwide fame actually comes from the fact that it used to host the Formula 1 Grand Prix of San Marino for many years. Those were the days when this F1 event was broadcast live and on free-to-air television reaching out to an audience of 400 million viewers all over the world. The result? Imola was known to everybody at the time, although the borough was one of many and did not have any peculiarities making it unique (hopefully, this will not annoy our dear fellow friends from Imola, who deserve our appreciation for their enthusiastic efforts to keep the two souls of our region – Emilia and Romagna – tightly together). It would be extremely interesting to test the level of awareness that today’s teenagers have to Imola, considering that they have never had the pleasure of watching the historical duels that F1 and the race track named after Enzo and Dino Ferrari gave us at the time.

Food for thought on this subject

A large sports event can become the economic driver of a whole geographical area and it may also serve as sounding board for nations that are both in need and willing to become known and appreciated. This is, for instance, why many entities involved in tourist promotion have decided to exhibit their brands and colours during sports events as a way to enhance their visibility: Visit CatalunyaVisit Malaysia and Visit Rwanda on the sleeves of the Arsenal jerseys are just few of a multitude of examples we may call to mind.

Are all sports equal? Why choosing football or MotoGP instead of basketball?

Undeniably, all sports have one thing in common: passion. And passion can be used to pass on messages to an attentive and receptive audience in a positive manner. Being part of the event without breaking off the show is a great advantage.

Why motor sports and tourism then? The answer is simple: the audience is basically limitless and the world championships are on the road, which means that they visit extremely important markets every 15 days, thus offering businesses the opportunity to be an on-site protagonist for a whole week. Additionally, businesses have the chance of engaging the million fans who purchase their tickets to the race track.

These championships are one with the very idea of travelling as they are on the move in 4 different continents, nine months a year, every year, offering partners the opportunity to use one simple communication strategy all over the world. This travelling platform does not merely grant businesses visibility, but it also serves the purpose of implementing a number of PR or promotional activities in which the race is the pivoting element.

This is a great occasion for anyone interested in promoting tourism, as they can be directly involved in the organisation of the event and, at the same time, use tourism to appeal to millions of viewers through TV or on-site initiatives. Check the most common initiatives by a click on this link giving information on sponsorship activation.

Travelling also opens up the doors to other product categories, which are all potential partners of teams and championships in the motor sports sector. Airlines and luggage producers, money exchange and power banks for ever-present smartphones running out of battery are some peculiar examples we already addressed in a post published a few days ago which you can find here.

If you are curious to have more in-depth information on the opportunities offered by sports marketing, do not hesitate to contact use at the following email:


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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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