Sponsorship In Sport
Sponsorship has been an integral part of professional sport since ancient Greek and Roman times. Sport’s ability to captivate and engage people from all walks of life makes it the perfect platform for sponsoring entities to build meaningful connections.
Although the fundamentals of sport sponsorship remain much the same, a lot has changed since the days when members of the higher classes of Greek and Roman societies would sponsor sporting events to demonstrate a city's dominance and their own social standing.
Today, the realms of sport sponsorship stretch far beyond events, as brands have branched out to sponsor teams and athletes in many different capacities.
Below, we take a closer look at the latter and in particular, how endorsing athletes can benefit brands, and how it compares to other forms of sponsorship.
What Is Athlete Sponsorship?
Athlete sponsorship is the practice of an external entity financially supporting an athlete, or individual in sport, for the mutual benefit of both parties.
Whilst the athlete's benefit is often centred around the monetary compensation, as well as working with an aligned organisation, the benefits for the sponsoring entity vary depending on the sponsor’s needs.
Typical examples include, athlete appearances in marketing activations, such as TV and digital adverts, social media promotions, events and the athlete's use and promotion of sponsored products/services.
The list of companies that benefit from athlete sponsorship is ever-increasing and any external organisation which doesn’t interfere or damage the sporting integrity of the structure in which the athlete competes in can be a sponsor, although the most common organisations are commercial companies.
Athlete sponsorships brokered by SPORTFIVE
How Does It Benefit Brands?
With some of the world’s biggest brands choosing to utilise athlete sponsorship as part of their marketing tool kit, it begs the question, how does it benefit these brands?
One of the main benefits of athlete sponsorship is that it provides organisations with heightened brand awareness. 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.
As well as offering increased awareness, athlete sponsorship also has the potential to shape brand image. By placing the brand alongside the athlete (e.g. Roger Federer wearing Uniqlo clothing), organisations can create positive brand associations with the athlete to improve the overall brand image.
Finally, athletes have the power to create meaningful engagement and long-lasting interest, both through their influential profiles, but also their own platforms, such as social media channels.
Through activating marketing initiatives with athletes, brands can harness this meaningful engagement to influence brand awareness and image, as well as to shape consumer habits.
How Does It Compare To Other Forms Of Sponsorship?
Sponsorship in sport has grown to previously unthinkable heights, 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.
With athlete sponsorship only accounting for a part of these sums, it’s worth exploring how it compares to the other two major forms of sports sponsorship.
For an in-depth comparison between athlete, team and league/event sponsorship, and to find out which is best suited for your business, check out our insight article on the topic.
In short, all three forms of sponsorship offer the opportunity for increased brand awareness, brand image and campaign activation.
However, athlete sponsorship’s unique selling point is that it provides brands with a platform that target audiences relate to on a personal level, removing corporate barriers that can sometimes be perceived in team or event sponsorship, making it one of the most effective assets in a brand’s marketing tool kit.
Global sports sponsorship estimated worth by 2030
Athletes - The Future Of Sports Sponsorship
Some of the world’s biggest organisations, from almost every industry, rely on the power of sport sponsorships to propel their brand to new heights.
Within this sphere, athlete sponsorships are quickly becoming businesses’ go-to method for brand building, thanks to their unique ability to engage with audiences across all demographics.
At SPORTFIVE, we connect the biggest brands with some of the most well-known athletes and people in sport. From securing long-term partnerships for Santander, Blue Yonder and Callaway with golfing superstar Jon Rahm, to activating Xylem’s meaningful campaign work with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, we build the bridges between brands and athletes.