Gone are the days when ideals of sportsmanship and fair play ruled the world of athletics. The link between global sports events and business is well-established, as high level competitions would be impossible to organize without the financial support of sponsors. Companies investing in sports can gain a lot of new customers and build goodwill among the throngs of fans, supplementing their media campaigns in a very effective manner.
Every year, thousands of athletic competitions take place in every country of the world, but only a handful can guarantee instant and substantial impact. Here is a list of the events that really move the needle in marketing terms:
While the popularity of American football is mostly limited to North America, there is no doubt about its power to attract and entertain viewers. This violent sport generates billions of dollars in annual revenue, while the final match of the season is a media spectacle like no other. Advertising slots during the Superbowl broadcasts come at astronomical prices, but they also offer great return on investment due to huge audiences. More than 60% of all U.S. citizens identify as moderate or hard core fans of the NFL, which amounts to a domestic market of 180.000.000 people. That’s 180 million potential customers that could be exposed to your message if you can put up a king’s ransom needed to join the media party.
The Champions League
No other sport can match the global appeal of soccer, a game that so many nations are extremely passionate about. European countries are all soccer-obsessed, which explains why an international league comprised of top-placed teams in national championships is the richest sports entity in the world. The amount of money is staggering, with league winners earning 15 million Euros, plus a share of the TV rights and sponsorships, pushing the total closer to 9 digits. The Champions League also receives a broad range of corporate contributions, giving companies a chance to put their logo on the official promos, the sidelines of the pitch and even the players’ shirts, maximizing the visibility of the brand.
Summer Olympic Games
Once every four years, the finest competitors in all major disciplines gather to determine the undisputed champion, with the entire world watching and holding its breath. Summer Olympics is a truly unique occurrence that can revitalize the economy of the host country and attract a host of global companies willing to pay for the privilege to be a part of the festivities. This year’s Games are no exception, with a roster of big-time sponsors pouring money into the multi-sport event and reaching out to the international audiences. Many brands decide to sponsor the national teams of their home countries, cementing local support based on patriotic feelings of the customers.
While American professional basketball doesn’t compare with football domestically when it comes to earnings, it makes up some ground in the international arena. The sport is played at a high level in a large number of developed countries (i.e. Spain, Argentina, Russia, France, Australia…), while the number of fans in other countries is on the rise, too (with China leading the way). Final game of the last year’s NBA finals series was watched by 30 million people in the U.S.A. alone, with a huge number of international fans and casual viewers tuning in for the decisive game. That’s particularly well suited to American brands looking to expand into global waters and acquire an overseas customer base.
Grand Slam Tournaments
Tennis is a sport with a long tradition and a steady fan base that’s comprised mostly of relatively affluent viewers. To make things even more advertiser-friendly, the most important action of the entire year is concentrated in just four tournaments – Wimbledon, Rolland-Garros, Australian Open and U.S. Open. Collectively known as ‘grand slam’ tournaments, these events are heavily televised and provide major brands with a possibility to address a highly valuable segment of the market. The fact that each of the tournaments is held in a large and financially powerful city adds local impact as well, increasing the total value of brand presence at the event.
The difference between a formula race and any other sports event is simply the scale. The racetracks run for many miles, allowing for a huge number of spectators to be positioned in strategic spots. It is also very TV-friendly, with high-speed chases looking brilliant on the big screens. Professional teams are usually owned by car manufacturers (i.e. Mercedes, Renault, Ferrari…), but in recent years brands such as Red Bull have gone from sponsors to team owners. However, cars typically carry dozens of logos, allowing smaller companies to flash their names alongside huge corporations.