The rise of multi-asset sponsorship - why quantity and quality help the big brands get bigger

Sports sponsorships are one of the most common forms of marketing strategies for leading brands, with Statista reporting that the global sports sponsorship market was worth $66 billion in 2022 and expected to grow to almost $108 billion by 2030. 

Within this sphere, one particular strategy has monopolised businesses’ approach to sponsorships, namely, multi-asset sport sponsorships. In this feature we delve deeper into the strategy and why the biggest brands are opting for this approach.

A growing trend amongst the biggest brands

Marketing is a notoriously difficult business function when it comes to measuring return on investment. It is however, something that no business can thrive without, and sees giants such as Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft dedicate more than 7% of their yearly revenue to marketing, equating to billions of dollars each year. 

Sports, and sports sponsorships are a key part of this marketing investment for many of the world’s leading businesses. In 2021, sports media company SportsPro conducted a study, ‘World’s 50 Most Marketable (50MM) Brands’, to understand which businesses receive the most value from their sports sponsorships. 

The list includes businesses from a wide range of industries, including: automotive, beverage, fashion, financial services, telecommunications, travel etc., and sees businesses earn brand value of anywhere between $35M and $617M every year. 

Despite originating from a wide range of different industries, all the leading brands on the 50MM list have one key aspect in common, they have all chosen to invest in two or more sponsorship assets in sport, instead of focusing their resources on singular investments. 

With every single leading brand in the space opting for this method, we decided to delve deeper into why this method seems to be working so well and how other businesses can use it to their advantage.

What is multi-asset sponsorship?

Multi-asset sponsorship is the practice of businesses choosing to spread their sponsorship investment across multiple athletes, teams, competitions and/or sports. 

This approach allows organisations to maximise their reach across multiple markets and tailor their messaging to engage with different target audiences, whilst keeping their marketing activities under one central sport sponsorship strategy. 

Businesses have been using sponsorships in sport as a platform to build their brands for over a hundred years, and often with great success, but the multi-asset approach to sponsorship is, in that sense, a relatively new concept. 

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, major sports transitioned from being a local/nationally centred interest, to becoming a global platform. With this change, sponsoring brands moved away from small-scale local investment and instead focused on building a wider portfolio of global sponsorship assets that could reach a larger, and equally engaged audience. 

Yearly brand value received from sports sponsorships

Source: SportsPro, World’s 50 Most Marketable Brands

Reaping the rewards 

One of the first brands to see the potential of multi-asset sponsorship strategy was Nike. The Oregon-headquartered sporting apparel brand built their marketing strategy around athlete sponsorships before branching out to sponsor teams and competitions as they have become one of the most well recognised brands in the world. 

Their early adoption of the strategy saw Nike set a new trend in sport sponsorships, one which landed them top spot in SportsPro’s ‘World’s 50 Most Marketable Brands’ list by generating a staggering $617M of brand value per year from their sponsorship investments. 

Other sporting goods manufacturers such as Adidas and Puma followed in Nike’s sponsorship footsteps and have also delivered great success, but recent times have seen a multitude of industries adopt Nike’s strategy. 

Brands from the automotive industry have shown particular investment in the space, with the industry claiming over $727M of brand value per year and accounting for 13 places in SportsPro’s ‘World’s 50 Most Marketable Brands’ list. 

The financial services (7) and beverage industries (5) have also reaped the rewards from the strategy with brands such as Santander, Red Bull, State Farm, Monster Energy, Heineken, Gatorade, Kia and Mastercard all generating over $90M per year in brand value.

How to implement multi-asset sponsorship

As with any business decision, organisations need to find the path which best fits their objectives, long-term vision and way of working, but there are a few steps which are key when looking to implement a multi-asset sponsorship approach. 

Before building a portfolio of sponsorships in sport, it’s important to take the time to understand what a sponsorship entails and familiarise yourself with some of its many components and how that fits with your business. Our FAQ page is a great place to start. 

Once you’ve built this understanding, you will need to set up a sport sponsorship strategy, where you lay out what you’re looking to get out of your investment. This will set the foundation for choosing which avenue(s) of sport sponsorship you target. 

Finally, it’s time to assess what sports properties, whether athletes, teams or leagues, are available for sponsorship opportunities. Here it’s important to build meaningfully and stay true to your strategy, multi-asset sponsorship portfolios are often built over several years. 

At SPORTFIVE, we work with the biggest brands to help mould and implement sponsorships in sport. From connecting brands like Santander, Blue Yonder and Callaway with golfing superstar Jon Rahm, to activating LEGO’s meaningful campaign work, we build the bridges between brands and sport.

If you want to find out more about athlete sponsorship or our work, feel free to get in touch

Sponsorship FAQs

Sponsorship is the financial support for a sporting event, organisation or athlete by an outside body, for the mutual benefit of both parties. At the professional level this tends to be by companies, to raise the profile of their brand by associating it with the athlete.

The company aims to generate brand awareness and customer recognition, whilst the event, organisation or athlete receives a boost in funding.

A popular example is a brand logo printed on a team shirt. Visibility is guaranteed, even more so in the modern world with social media and online highlights.

In the land of media and marketing rights today, there is no cookie-cut solution for brands, and a simple logo placement will not provide the sufficient return on investment (ROI) for sponsorship, nor does it give their target audience the “why?” - the reason to spend their money and engage with the product.

Companies investing in sports sponsorship need to look at the bigger picture to engage with fans and not rely on just one piece of inventory.

Sponsors get the opportunity to showcase their brand and products to a greater audience of varying demographics. The global nature of sport today means that athletes feature within competitions that attract millions, sometimes billions of viewers worldwide. By placing their brand within this sphere, organisations can catch the attention of people around the world.

In modern times, the value of social media cannot be underestimated. Even traditional forms of sponsorship are likely to appear on social media, opening the brand up to an even wider audience - even appearing in new territories.

Through placements on jerseys and advertising boards, sponsors get a high visual presence and become part of the action. If visibility is the core objective, then it's a surefire way to succeed, whether that’s inside the stadium, TV or online.

It is the emotional engagement which sets sponsorships in sport apart from almost all other forms of advertising and sponsoring initiatives. Traditional advertising platforms such as TV can attain similar reach figures to sport, but can’t compete with sports fans’ engagement.

To find sponsorship opportunities in the sports industry, individuals, teams, or organisations can explore various avenues:

Professional Agencies: Sports marketing agencies, like SPORTFIVE, specialise in connecting sponsors with sports properties, facilitating mutually beneficial partnerships.

Industry Events and Conferences: Attending sports industry events and conferences where networking opportunities can lead to potential sponsorship deals.

Local Businesses: Reach out to local businesses that may have an interest in supporting community sports teams or events.

Sports Federations: National and international sports federations often have guidelines and programs for sponsorship, providing opportunities for collaboration.

Networking: Engage in networking within the sports industry to build connections with potential sponsors, leveraging relationships to secure sponsorship deals.

By exploring these channels, individuals and entities in the sports industry can identify and secure sponsorship opportunities that align with their objectives and contribute to the growth and success of their sports endeavours.

Choosing the right sponsorship for your goals involves strategic consideration of your brand objectives and target audience. Follow these steps:

Define Objectives: Clearly outline your marketing and business objectives for the sponsorship, whether it's brand visibility, customer engagement, or community outreach.

Know Your Audience: Understand your target audience and align sponsorship opportunities with their demographics, interests, and behaviours. 

Relevance: Choose sponsorships that align with your brand values and resonate with your audience, creating authentic connections.

Evaluate Opportunities: Assess potential sponsorships based on factors like reach, engagement potential, and the alignment of the sponsored entity with your brand image.

Budget Considerations: Evaluate the financial aspects, ensuring the sponsorship aligns with your budget while delivering significant value.

Negotiate Terms: Work with the sponsored entity to negotiate terms that meet your goals, ensuring a mutually beneficial partnership.

By aligning sponsorships with your brand objectives, audience demographics, and values, you can choose opportunities that effectively contribute to the success of your marketing and business goals.

Identifying appropriate sponsorships in the sports industry involves a strategic approach which considers your brand's goals and the dynamics of the sports landscape: 

Define Objectives: Clearly articulate your marketing objectives, whether it's brand awareness, audience engagement, or community outreach. 

Audience Alignment: Identify sports properties that resonate with your target audience, ensuring relevance and engagement. 

Brand Values: Seek sponsorships that align with your brand's values and image, creating authentic connections with the sports entity.

Research Opportunities: Explore various sports teams, events, or athletes to find opportunities that match your criteria. Look for entities with a strong and positive presence.

Evaluate Reach: Assess the reach and visibility of potential sponsorships, considering factors like broadcast exposure, social media following, and event attendance.

Budget Considerations: Ensure that the sponsorship aligns with your budget while providing significant value in terms of visibility and audience engagement.

By considering these factors, you can identify sports sponsorships that align with your brand's goals, resonate with your target audience, and contribute to a successful partnership within the sports industry.

Beyond the Match
The SPORTFIVE Magazine

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