Sports sponsorship ‘needs local heroes’

Marketers should consider sponsoring local sporting heroes, instead of always thinking in terms of national signings, according to a leading sports marketer.

Clifford Bloxham, vice-president of athletes and personalities at Octagon, says that while the US is very adept at using sports stars in regional campaigns, the trend has yet to catch on in the UK.

He says: “In the US, a brand would sign with a San Francisco 49ers player and just use them in California where they are a big star. They would not try and run the same campaign in Texas.” He points to the Co-op’s use of Olympic swimmer Katie Sexton, who won gold in the 200m backstroke at the Barcelona Games, in her hometown of Portsmouth, as an example of a successful local activation.

But he also highlights missed opportunities for tie-ups, such as with the Southampton footballer Matthew Le Tissier who, he says, was “as big as Beckham” during his time at the club.

He adds: “If a brand could find five Matthew Le Tissiers around the country, and then use them on a regional basis, that would be a very valuable and cost-effective investment.

“Football fans in particular are very tribal, so regional campaigns could really work. You have to work hard to find a player who transcends their association with their club.”

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