Corporate sponsorship is one of the many means that companies openly take their services or products to the consumers.
Advertising is the most frequently used marketing tool and speaks to a consumer in a direct way. It announces the availability of a product and creates an image for a brand. It can also provide information on a product’s quality, characteristics, price and performance.
Sponsorship seeks to enhance these messages by association with an event, club or team that shares similar image qualities and values as the brand. This association can be very powerful because it is perceived as an endorsement of the brand by an independent third party. Consumers are aware of the costs of sponsorship but the message retained is more subtle than that from the more overtly paid-for advertisement.
Sponsorship is a commercial agreement between a company and a sport to enter into a joint venture to promote their mutual interests. In return for a financial contribution a sports organization will allow the use of its name in commercial activities. These activities can be as varied as the imaginations of the participants.
Some of the most obvious include displaying of the brand name on kit, banners around the venue, advertisements in programmes, and on other merchandise. Sponsors would use the club, event, team or individual in advertisements and other promotions undertaken by the brand.
Most sponsorships are paid for in cash, but in-kind sponsorship can be useful and effective. Instead of money, the sponsor provides equipment, services or management expertise as all or part of its fee for the rights to a sporting activity. Companies may also provide money to sporting organisations in other ways.
Agonizingly to take, our so-called sports federations including its lifeless mother organization the National Olympics Committee are still wide off mark in this critical subject.
Without sideling our corporate companies that have reluctantly come out to sponsor sports events and programmes, our local sports governing bodies deserve pocketing a bigger portion of blame.
The first and principal undoing is that sports associations are run by “Early man thinking” bosses and failures elsewhere. How would such ham-fisted people digest matters on ground and design a marketing strategy to attain and maintain quality relationship with corporate sponsors?
How would such clumsy ladies and gentlemen in our sports federations impress in the first encounters with corporate sponsors? The upshot on the segment of this argument is that a huge number of our sports administration officials have not been exposed the new realties of sports promotion.
This has therefore made, and will continue holding back the country’s sports development.
I strongly subscribe to a conviction that corporate sponsorship would hike if our sports federations or associations employed exposed, educated and shrewd people. This brings up a much-needed concern for the ministry of sports, youth and culture to iron out the administration and management of sports in this country. If I had mandate I would propose setting up an independent ministry concerned with only sports. This full sports ministry should have a fairly adequate budget to attract competitive human resources, who are capable to deliver handsome results.
Swinging back to the current situation, our sports governing bodies have ignorantly frustrated sponsors by not giving mileage to the sponsors. Sponsorship of sport can be used to meet objectives on a company’s social agenda. The aim is not to sell products but to improve a company’s image as an employer, corporate citizen or contributor to the economy. Therefore, this needs media coverage for the event sponsored in pursuit of getting publicity for the sponsoring company. An astute sports official from a federation that has benefited from sponsorship would throw in efforts to organize a press conference and invite the sponsor to brand the venue. This would cement the relationship with the sponsor, thus creating a better environment for sports development. I have attended many sponsored events, where I have realized that it’s the sponsoring companies running up and down to invite journalists to cover the event.
Ferwafa shot wide with Primus…
Let me take the local soccer governing body, Ferwafa, as a case study. It’s now almost over three years since Ferwafa got a sponsorship in cash worth Frw 280,000,000 sponsorship for the national league from Primus a beer brewed by Bralirwa. But, I must assert that federation has not played fairly well with Primus sponsorship. By the look of things, I doubt whether Primus will be willing to renew the sponsorship contract.
Federation has not given Primus a mileage it deserves as far as media coverage is concerned. Broadly speaking, the federation’s efforts – if any made – to build hype on primus sponsorship is hazy enough. Among other things, Ferwafa should have at least set up a press box well branded with primus at the stadia, where a man of the match and a coach would stand for press interviews and images.
The hype on the primus sponsorship would not only give a mileage to Bralirwa, but would as well help Ferwafa to tap more sponsors. Had Ferwafa built hype on this sponsorship other companies would feel jealous, thus easily lured to cash in on different forms of deals.
Nothing is impossible. Impossible is nothing. Strings need to be pulled.
The author is a PR Executive with GR8 Relations Limited