In Sport Sponsorship

Back to basics to find out the meaning of two phrases that are often used mistakenly: sports marketing and sports communication.

What is marketing exactly? Although it may sound banal to say or to repeat, this is a very commonly used term in many different contexts, which tends to be misused by sector operators too.  I firstly came across marketing when I started reading the books by the father of modern marketing, Philip Kotler, who defined marketing as follows back in 1967: “a social and managerial process directed at satisfying human needs and wants through creating, offering and exchanging products of value with others. Marketing is the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit”. In Kotler’s view, companies become marketing-oriented, in other words they can somehow listen to and understand the market, identify still unfulfilled needs and respond to such needs with an appropriate and competitive offer of value. The next step is marketing strategy, i.e. how to tackle the market and one’s own target effectively for a profit.

What about sports communication?

How is sports marketing linked to sports communication? The link consists in the fact that the marketing mix (i.e. the set of tools a company uses to promote its product(s) in fulfilment of its objectives) also contains sponsorship or, as many define it, sports communication. Depending on the budget at hand for the promotion of the brand, a company may decide to invest in an advertising campaign divulged via various media (the television, the press, the radio, the social media, billboards, posters, etc.), or in public relation activities (events, congresses, meetings, exhibitions, etc.), and in promotional activities and sponsorships, i.e. commercial agreements by which the sponsor (company) acquires the rights to use the image of the sponsored party (for instance, a soccer club, a motorcycle team or an athlete) with a view to promoting its products.

Good reasons to go for sponsorship

As explained above, sponsorships are a promotional form that companies use to involve their target. Agencies exist that specialise in sports marketing or in sports marketing and communication and provide specific consultancy services to companies that are willing to use sport as a marketing and communication tool. Why? Firstly, because sport is passion. We all follow or practise one sport, normally a sport that thrills us. Soccer, F1, MotoGp, tennis, the Olympic Games, swimming, athletics … I bet we all have, at least once in our lives, found ourselves with our eyes stuck on the TV set watching a sporting event or supporting our idol. Whenever we follow our sport favourites, or when we watch a movie or a show, advertising breaks bother us – a lot, indeed. The logo of a company on the jersey of a soccer player or similarly the logos on the fairing of motorbikes or the overalls of riders or skiers are no bother at all, instead. They are part of the show we are supporting and they very often contribute to its success. The relationship between the sport we follow and/or the team we support and sponsor companies is positive and we are very likely to remember the brand when we go to the supermarket to buy a product.

Over and beyond the displayed logo

There is far more at stake than a logo on a jersey, on a car or on the edges of a soccer pitch. Sponsorship offers the opportunity to use all marketing rights that a company has purchased. For instance:

  • the use of the image of the team/athlete in communication activities – from conventional advertising campaigns to using the image on products;
  • promotional B2B and B2C activities – incentive programmes, in-store promotions, field promotions, hospitality at sporting events;
  • licensing and co-branding – the opportunity to create product lines with the name of our favourite team or in limited series;
  • public relation activities – testimonials attending events, exhibitions, corporate meetings.

It is not merely about displaying a logo, but having a real marketing plan to implement that fully involves both the company and the brand. This is not something trivial: sponsorships are a powerful tool to be fully exploited in order to achieve the planned targets. This is the very reason why agencies and professionals like us exist: to assist companies in this specific branch of marketing or sports communication, as many define it.

RTR Sports Marketing

RTR Sports Marketing has been a leader in the sports marketing sector ever since 1995 and it has its core business in sponsorships of motorsports, such as MotoGP, Formula 1 sponsoring Formula E. If you wish to find out how sport can breathe new energy to your company’s marketing strategies, write us an email at:


Can we help you sign your best sponsorship deal?

Silvia Schweiger
Silvia Schweiger
Associate Director, Executive Marketing and Commercial at RTR Sports Marketing, a London-based sports marketing company specializing in motorsport for over 25 years.
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