Strategies for global sponsorships and events

Marketing to a global audience through sports sponsorships involves a three-tier strategy, said SAP exec Chris Burton: 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, he added during the first session of Day 2 of the 2012 IMG Sports Sponsorship Symposium. 

Global Sports Sponsorships


Chris Burton, SAP
Peter Farnsworth, Foxrock Partners
Michael Robichaud, MasterCard Worldwide

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 behind. Said Foxrock Partners' Peter Farnsworth: "The NBA has a tremendous amount of upside, and a large part of that is because of their operational structure as a single entity and how they build their business internationally." He added that soccer teams in Europe can suffer as each team markets itself individually, which increases the difference between the "haves" and the "have nots."

Quick hits:

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.’”

Michael Robichaud, on Visa’s global campaigns using 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.“

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.”

Peter 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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