The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio come to a close in a few days time, leaving us with no more green swimming pools, no more Michael Phelps, and no more excessive ad breaks (we’re looking at you, NBC).
The media build-up and coverage of Rio has been inescapable. Olympic affiliates have flooded our social media timelines, filled our daily commutes with large and loud billboard posters and covered our screens with patriotic TV advertisements. This brings us to the s-word that accompanies all major sporting events around the world… Sponsorship.
As we all know, sponsorship is where a business provides funds, resources or services to a partner, in return for some form of rights with the partner that may be used to benefit the business commercially. These days, you can sponsor just about anything in sports – events, individuals, even the Olympic Games medal table (“brought to you by McDonald’s”).
From Adidas to Aldi; from Deloitte to DFS; all brands are splashing out to be a “proud sponsor” of the Olympic Games and its athletes. Why? By sponsoring an event as large as the Olympics, your brand name is guaranteed to reach billions of people. Brand awareness is the key driver behind all sponsorship deals.
And sports sponsorship has paid off for many companies. Take Santander, for example. Santander promised all its customers a 0.1% bonus if Rory McIlroy won the US PGA golf tournament. The result? Three winners. Rory McIlroy with a golfing victory, 600,000 savers with fuller wallets, and Santander with a huge boost to its reputation.
But be warned, the wrong choice of sponsor may leave you disqualified. Some famous examples of ‘sport sponsorship gone wrong’ include Lance Armstrong and Nike. When Armstrong admitted to doping in 2013, Nike immediately dropped its sponsorship because “Just Do It doesn’t apply to doping”. Similarly, Accenture had sponsored Tiger Woods for six years with the unfortunate slogan “we know what it takes to be a tiger” until the Woods extramarital affairs scandal came to light in 2009.
By piggybacking on a sports event or individual, you have no control over your partners’ actions. So be prepared, your company is taking a huge risk and you may need to undertake serious crisis PR to save your brand reputation in the event of a scandal.
So, if you’re planning to engage in sponsorship, whether you’re sponsoring a local sporting event or famous Olympic athlete, make sure you consider all your options. If you choose the perfect partner for your brand, you may just end up going home with the gold medal in sponsorship.