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Sports sponsorship and its relation to niche sports

A global sport mega-event is a fine medium for major brands to raise awareness and to communicate with global audiences. Though, it requires money to do so and that strategy is not meant for everyone! For smaller corporations and thus brands without the economic capacity (or need) to ‘go global’, leveraging their sponsorship resources by applying ‘less-targeted’ communication equals ‘marketing waste’.

What does that mean? I simply want to state that sport sponsorship is a very flexible medium. This flexibility leaves room for sponsors (corporations and brands) to distribute highly tuned communication to very specific segments. A creative and collaborative approach to sponsorship offers the sponsor a chance to work inventively and closely with the selected sports property for the purpose of establishing a powerful touchpoint (or more touchpoints), which the sponsor can utilize to reach its target audience. A problem area in this regard is that smaller sports or sport events may not result in satisfactory ROIs. Though, a sponsor can get around this obstacle by grouping smaller sports (or aspects of a sports or sport event) together under one umbrella. We have seen this done in cycling where ‘cross’ and ‘mountainbiking’ are grouped together under Danish Cyclin Federation. Thus, it gives smaller sports a better chance to compete with bigger sports like football or golf. Often, uniting sports is a way to build cumulative crowds, which makes it more beneficial for the sponsor to be associated with the sports property due to increased probability for supplementary revenues.

For smaller sport events, it is often valuable for sponsors to promote and ease opportunities to participate in a sport. This leads to authentic engagement with niche sports and help them to flourish. For example, a sponsor can build a virtuous circle, which underlines the importance of finding new heroes capable of bringing the contours of a niche sport to the next level. The latter enhances the audience of the sport, which appeal to more commercial stakeholders.

Although, ‘X Games’ has become a global phenomenon, the strategy of grouping several sports under one umbrella for commercial and branding purposes shines through, see more here. Another example is ‘the Dew Tour’, which is among the most-viewed action sports contests, click here for more information.

And keep this in mind when considering throwing money into sports sponsorship:

“From a marketing standpoint, the value is tied to the ability of the sponsorship service offer to satisfy the sponsors’ expectations and objectives. It could be economic (e.g. to increase awareness, strengthen or modify image, develop sales, stimulate distribution network, etc.) and/or social (e.g. promoting corporate policy, reinforcing internal cohesion, etc.).” (Ferrand et al., 2007, p. 3)


Ferrand, A., i Povill, A. C., & Torrigiani, L. (2007). Routledge handbook of sports sponsorship: successful strategies. Routledge. New York, the US.

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