Sponsorship research will boost value of deals

Sporting organisations need to prove that sponsorship builds brands if they are to command the highest prices from sponsors.

Sitting on my desk is a pile of glossy brochures offering sponsorship for a range of sports. Each one represents a “fantastic opportunity” which, for some multiple of a million pounds, will provide “excellent value for money” for my clients.

But before handing over a cheque with several noughts on it, my clients will want to know exactly what they are going to get for their money. How well will this deliver their marketing and business objectives? Will it represent a better investment than spending the money elsewhere?

Sponsorship sales documents are usually comprehensive in their description of the sponsorship’s features – how many perimeter boards, how many programme advertisements, how luxurious the hospitality, and so on.

But what about the sponsorship’s benefits – its ability to deliver clients’ marketing and business objectives? Here the evidence is more mixed.

Media exposure information, such as figures for TV audiences and press coverage, is commonly available. But sporting organisations rarely take the next step and show how effective this exposure is – how far it drives awareness and brand image and how positively it helps differentiate the sponsor from competitor brands, for example.

Showing that the sponsorship works is crucial information. Not only will it give brand directors confidence in the sponsorship, but it will also enable them to sell it to a potentially sceptical managing and financial director as a sound investment.

So why isn’t this information made available? The answer, of course, is that – unlike advertising or TV sponsorship – it doesn’t exist.

By not measuring the impact of their sponsorships, sporting organisations are unable to prove that they will work. And in the absence of such proof they are unable to command the highest prices – or worse, they run the risk of clients spending their money elsewhere.

The solution seems obvious. Sporting bodies should routinely research the effectiveness of their sponsorships to sell their properties more readily and to command a higher price. Measurement data will add value to the sponsorship; it will also make sponsorship negotiations a more professional, rational process.

It is in all our interests – buyers and sellers of sponsorship – to make effectiveness research part of sponsorship’s culture, as it is in advertising. (The recent tie-up between Octagon and Millward Brown represents a welcome exception, but this remains exactly that, not the rule.)

I often recommend that clients put an independent research programme in place to measure the return from a sponsorship. This research consistently demonstrates what a powerful tool sponsorship can be.

Sports bodies typically agree to conducting research, but with the rider that there is no budget for it. Until appropriate budgets are set aside, the money saved will be more than outweighed by the potential revenues that are missed.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here