Sponsorship is a way for a company or business to make an investment in a sport entity. There are opportunities to invest in leagues, teams, events and even athletes. The investment can be in cash or in equipment and merchandise. The sponsor benefits the business by providing the business with the right to associate with the entity they are providing support for, while the entity gets money and supplies to help them train and succeed. The businesses hope that through sponsorship they will increase sales, change attitudes, bring awareness to their organization and build relationships with sports entities and their fans. (Shank & Lyberger, 2015)
When a business decides to begin a sponsorship, they must first consider their objectives and budget. They also might look at their competition to what kind of sponsorship they are involved in. A decision must be made about how big they want their own sponsorship to be. The Sports Event Pyramid can help to categorize which sponsorship is the best fit. The pyramid is based on width, which is the geographic area, and depth, which is the interest that consumers have in the entity. The pyramid helps to determine the scope of the sponsorship. The levels of the pyramid are local, regional, national, international and global. By deciding how big the sponsorship will be, companies and reduce the number of proposals that they have to consider. (Shank & Lyberger, 2015)
At the local level, sponsorship is involved with sports entities in a city or or town. At this level the interest in the event might be high, but the coverage of the event is low. In Buckhannon, WV, Sam’s Pizza is often a sponsor of local teams and games. They have their sign on the high school baseball field. Sams Pizza gives donations and sometimes provides low cost pizzas for the snack bars. This sponsorship helps people hear about the local restaurant and can bring more customers in. The sports teams can use the money to help them with fields and equipment.
At the regional level, the MAC (Mid American Conference) is a league of 23 college sports in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States. One of their sponsors is University Hospitals, a network of hospitals in Northeast Ohio. University Hospitals places billboards in the stadiums and has commercials that highlight the MAC logo. The hospital became the official health provider for the organization in 2015. Athletes are encouraged to use their hospital for healthcare and the hospital provides funding for the organization.
The NBA a national association of basketball teams, is sponsored by Gatorade. Gatorade pays to have their commercials played during NBA games. They also pay to have their signs and logo seen around the the arenas. They also provide drinks, coolers and towels for the players. By sponsoring the NBA, the Gatorade brand is seen by a large number of people all across the USA. People identify Gatorade with the basketball teams.
Internationally, Wimbledon is a tennis tournament that brings worldwide attention and coverage. Players come from many different countries to compete. IBM has sponsored tennis since 1990. The technology company also sponsors the US Open and Australian Open. They provide services for the tournaments like equipment to find the speed of the ball and ways to provide statistics on matches to broadcasters. This service helps the tournaments to take place and also allows IBM to attach their name to the events.
One of the few truly global sports entities is the Olympics. The Olympics has high interest and is known and viewed all over the world. Coca-Cola has been a sponsor of the Olympics since 1928. They bring cold drinks to both athletes and spectators. Sponsoring the Olympics is a good way to promote their brand. In Atlanta, Coca-Cola provided a center for special events and shows to entertain people who had come to the Olympics. Because of their support, Coca-Cola is able to put put their logo on Olympics posters and ads. When people look at the Olympics they are sure to also see the Coca-Cola symbol.
Shank, M. & Lyberger, M. Sports Marketing: A Strategic Perspective, 5th edition. (2015) New York: Routledge.