The Secret Marketer on sport sponsorship

Our ’man on the inside’ provides a view from the top of the marketing tree

It has been a tough time lately for professional sport. Whatever your game, it has most likely been tarnished with allegations of wrongdoing.

Some say that the unprecedented levels of money flowing through the industry is to blame.

I suspect that they are right, but the intrinsic link between money and sport is hardly new.

Last week’s World Open snooker tournament was sponsored by, and a glance down the list of shirt sponsors of premiership football clubs tells a similar story. Online gaming companies dominate the landscape. And for as long as these companies keep writing the cheques, I suspect sport will welcome their contribution.

It did, after all, take many years of lobbying and eventual government intervention to ban tobacco sponsorship. But having cleaned up our lungs, are we not now simply seeing one vice being replaced by another? Vice has always equalled temptation, but rarely has temptation been so easy. Mobile technology means we are only a click away from placing that bet from wherever we may be, and I imagine the return on investment from sports sponsorship is a compelling one for those gambling with their marketing budget.

“Having cleaned up our lungs, are we now not simply seeing one vice being replaced by another?”

This is not for one moment a crusade against online gambling firms, but I do fear that their impact on some parts of society may yet prove to be at least as damaging as their booze and fags predecessors. The difference is, I think the effects may come a whole lot faster. Back to a spot of betting. I don’t know about you but while I am au fait with picking the first goalscorer, I did not realise that you could bet on something so trivial as when a no-ball will be bowled. This in itself is surely an open-goal for corruption. If you can bet on this level of minutiae, it makes you wonder whether the gaming firms should turn their hand to the marketing world. Just think of the fun we could have.

We could bet on the number of PowerPoint slides that the agency shows in setting the scene before revealing its creative work; or we could bet on the number of times the marketing team will undergo a restructure each year. We could bet on how many discount promotions the sales team will run or how small the agency will try and make the pack shot.

Perhaps Marketing Week could publish the odds each week. I am sure they would have little problem finding a sponsor.


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