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Sports Marketing Symposium: Sponsorships Connect With Fans Across The Globe

Marketing to a global audience through sports sponsorships involves a three-tier strategy: the league, the tournament and the individual. Most important to this strategy is keeping a consistent message across all three tiers and all markets around the world, said panelists participating in the "In-Depth Look At Global Sports Sponsorships And Events" session on Day 2 of theIMG Sports Marketing Symposium '12. Brands’ global strategies, although unified, should be empowered at the local level, panelists said, so that marketers at every level are motivated to push the brand. For companies interested in expanding globally, soccer remains in the lead as the No. 1 sport with upside and marketability, but basketball follows closely with the NBA successfully marketing itself as a single entity. They suggested that soccer teams in Europe can suffer as each team markets itself individually, even EPL club Manchester United, which is often considered to be the No. 1 brand in the world.

QUICK HITS:

-- SAP Group VP for Global Sponsorships Chris Burton, on managing global sponsorships: “Ours is all centralized. We have a global strategy where we can make some smaller regional investments. Clearly, we do loads of local research. But we have a centralized strategy. I guess it was about 10 years ago that there were some donkeys in Argentina that had our logo on the back of them. Argentina did it, so we were like, ‘OK, we have a centralized strategy now.’”

-- MasterCard Worldwide VP/Global Sponsorships Michael Robichaud, on Visa’s global campaigns with the Olympics and World Cup: “From a sponsorship point of view, it’s a bit of a challenge because they do have the big ones, but the way we look at it is there is not a whole lot of flexibility in their portfolio because they’ve made these huge investments. We know where they’re going to be for the next eight-plus years, so we can kind of plan around it.“

-- Sports marketing firm FoxRock Partners Founder & CEO Peter Farnsworth, on B2B sponsorships: “B2B marketing is a completely different set of objectives. I think there’s a huge opportunity for that. A lot of companies miss out on that opportunity. Deloitte was a sponsor of the Olympics, but what were they really doing? You have to make sure to tell your story.”

-- Farnsworth, on local verse centralized approaches: “I think a local buy-in is critical. When I was at the NBA, we always made sure the local decision-makers were vested in it. Because if they’re not vested in it then they’re not going to activate it locally. And you don’t want to be in a situation where corporate is forcing something down people’s throats. If you don’t have that local buy-in then it’s not going to be a lasting relationship.”
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