Sports Marketing And The Evolution

Sport is a winning medium that reach a worldwide audience every day, guaranteeing sponsors benefits that are not comparable with traditional media such as TV, radio and the press. This is confirmed also by the ever increasing number of hours that the major television networks worldwide dedicate to sport in all its forms and expressions and by the number of professional Sports Marketing Agencies that suggest to their clients to use sport in promotional activities.
Sport, as a communication tool, is unique in its ability to break down traditional cultural and linguistic barriers and is a competitive, creative and fruitful business product that is suitable for achieving different marketing objectives, such as:

– Increasing brand popularity/awareness

– Changing brand profile

– Enhancing brand/product

– Creating worldwide product recognition

– Attracting new market segments

– Enlarging the distribution network

In order to give an idea of the popularity of sport, we provide you with some data from the Motorbike World Championship, one of the most spectacular and sometimes heroic of all sporting events. In 2005 MotoGp has experienced continuous growth in viewing figures, attendance and investments:

– 17 Grands Prix, hosted in 15 countries across 5 continents

– TV programs about the Motorbike World Championship have been broadcast in 207 – countries-

– Over 3,790 TV broadcasting hours

– 276 million households reached

– Total viewing figures of 5,290 million in 184 countries for live Grand Prix coverage

– Average viewing audience of 311 million per Grand Prix

– Average attendance of 120,000 spectators at the circuit, with peaks of 237,000

– About 2,034,000 overall attendance

(Source: Dorna Sport S.L., 2005 Review)

And that’s not all! What really makes sport such a good marketing tool is that it gives companies the opportunity to associate their own brand and product values with the values of the discipline itself.
Sponsorship formats and models evolve constantly. The first and most “classical” model is the “Sponsorship Buy Model”, where the sponsor buys a package that has already been created and becomes involved in the final stage of the event.
The next step is the “Sponsorship Make Model”, a more recent version, in which the sponsor plays an active role in the creation of the event, taking part in its conception and organising it according to its own objectives and values. If properly coordinated, this model is a winning one, as it allows to create moment-events that are rich in meaning for the consumer. That’s why professional Sports Marketing Agencies have often promoted this kind of planning.
The scenario is currently moving towards the “Sponsorship Create and Manage Model”, which allows the sponsor to manage the whole range of activities connected to an event and to define sport-based communication in various areas.

A great example of how sports sponsorship models are evolving is provided by Red Bull.
Let’s analyze how they managed and adapt their activities over time.
At the beginning they started buying small sponsorship packages in different sports. Their approach was different from anything previously seen in the sport business arena: Red Bull chose to be involved with the wild and crazy world of extreme disciplines, such as heli-skiing, tobogganing or jumping out of airplanes. In doing so, the company was able to test sport related benefits and began to be remembered thanks to sport-related elements.
Moving beyond this to a second stage, Red Bull used such “sport experience” to create its own promotional events, involving hundreds and hundreds of fans, customers and potential customers at circuits and on starting grids, in the mountains or in the skies.
Finally, the last step in this sponsorship evolution strategy brought Red Bull to enter the Formula 1 racing world. Firstly they simply gave to some of the F1 grand prix drivers a branded drinking bottle. After testing and verified their ROI results, they decided to expand their branding promotion into a logo to be featured on F1 cars: the Sauber Team.
In 2005 the company decided to expand their marketing effort and to fully manage the entire project. They acquire a whole Formula 1 Team, and name it as “Red Bull Racing – Formula 1 Team”. This sponsorship model has become the starting point for a number of activities and events managed by the company itself: In this case Sport sponsorship is transformed into a business platform for building, creating and managing sports related projects.
This new model is essential to maximize the capacity of the events to capture an audience via multimedia coverage, to extend its memorability, for the formation of a community and so on. This results in a direct increase and consolidation of brand awareness.

  1. If you’re looking for something to really get the adrenalin pumping, why not try out-running a bunch of 600 pound bulls. In mid July 95 during a surf trip around the European coastline I dropped into Pampalona to take part in the famous bull running festival, in which thousands of nutters (and myself) ran down a stretch of winding streets, being chased by about 10 angry bulls.

The event starts at 8:00am, every morning for a week, where if you are taking part you find yourself a spot within the crowd. The run starts in a stretch of old style Spanish street between two tall buildings, loaded with locals making the sign of cross on their foreheads down to the fearless participants below. As you can imagine, it’s slightly unnerving and would be more so if the skin-full of red wine and cola, dancing & no sleep, hadn’t numbed the nerves a tad. It’s quite a sight to behold, if you can imagine a small version of the London Marathon, only with thousands of drunken Spaniards and tourists all dressed in white with red scarves. If you think it sounds like a death wish, it isn’t, because you do get to protect yourself with a rolled up newspaper! Yes that will protect your butt cheeks from the impending doom of a bulls horn. Not!

Your position in the crowd determines your initial safety during the first part of the run. If you’re right at the front you will most likely get into the arena before seeing a bull (as long as you stay on you feet). If you’re at the back the bulls will definitely pass you. So for your first time its best to go near the front until you get the gist of what’s going. We positioned are selves in the front 3rd.

The first gun is for everyone to start running. Running is a slight exaggeration as, if you do run, you will trip over the person in front of you. So you barely make a slow trot along with the rest of crowd. Then moments later the second gun sounds. The bulls are free and running, at full pelt I expect.

The course is 3/4 mile in total and goes from being totally surrounded by buildings with nowhere to escape, to open sections, which have been marked out by wooden barriers sunken into the ground. These are also pretty hard to escape over, as there are teams of spectators peering over and waiting to push the frantic and afraid back into the affray.

Chaos is about the best term to describe the run and that was without even seeing a bull on the course. You then run through the entrance to the arena, which is a concrete corridor about 50 feet long. This is the most dangerous spot and one you definitely don’t want to get involved in a pile up here. Once through the entrance you run into the arena, a great way to see it for the first time and for the Life of Brian fans amongst you, a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to live out the gladiator scene for real. The bulls eventually appear, bringing you back to reality and run straight through the crowd into an enclosure at the back of the arena. Next “they” (the crazy perpetrators of the event who are obviously hell bent on killing or at least maiming the odd participant) let smaller, more energetic bulls out, one at-a-time, to cause some mayhem. These bulls have leather protectors on their horns to protect the crowd at least, meaning that if you do get charged you won’t die, a slow and pain full death, but you might get thrown into the air a few feet and land on your head! The hard bit about this is that there are a thousand other people in the bull ring, which makes spotting the bulls very difficult. Suddenly the crowd in front of you parts to reveal a crazed bull running directly at you at full pelt, head down and closing fast. My natural instinct was to run and throw myself head first over the 6 foot high barrier. In a normal situation this would be seen as a reckless and dangerous stunt but considering the circumstances I felt it was a carefully considered life saving maneuver and one that meant I survived with everything but my pride intact!

Once everyone has got used to the smaller bulls, they let the, now rested, larger bulls out into the crowd, to shake things up-a-bit. This is obviously much more dangerous, as you can imagine, what could happen if one of these steps on your head. Luckily during our run there were no serious injuries (I think), but they do have severe injuries all the time, so don’t take this past-time too lightly. The year that I ran an American chap aged 22 died and became one of the 15 death since 1924. In fact everyday they post pictures of that day’s run for the participants to buy. Also all around the town there are pictures from the past, with some pretty sobering images of accidents that have happened. I suppose this is done to remind the runners that the worst thing that can happen is death! A pretty extreme sport all-in-all!