A framework for a purpose driven sport sponsorship program
Updated: Mar 23
A few years ago, I completed an MBA with a concentration on Sports Management. One of my favorite courses there was a “sport sponsorship” class taught by Umberto Pieraccioni, former Director at Adidas & Reebok in Italy, among others.
Mr. Pieraccioni shared with us a valuable framework that I have kept present since then, as it can still provide itself valuable when looking to consider sponsorship opportunities for a sport organization.
The sport sponsorship framework
The framework looks to identify the elements that drive brand equity. These include:
1. Relevance of the promise: What are the aspirations of your organization?
2. Perceived performance: Are you living up to your follower´s expectations?
3. Loyalty: The more memories your brand can generate, the more loyalty it will drive.
4. Value for money: Are your stakeholders satisfied with the time, money, and effort they are investing in your brand?
5. Uniqueness: Why does your brand standout?
6. Awareness: What is the degree of exposure of your brand in media channels (digital,
7. Brand associations: What does your target market think about when your brand comes to mind?
8. Other owned brand assets: These include trademarks, facilities, etc.
The importance of brand purpose as a strategic element of the sponsorship deal
The sport industry has evolved significantly due to events related to the Covid-19 pandemic and its main stakeholders will never be the same again.
While the sponsorship framework is still relevant, it needs to evolve to consider the role of “sport” in society which transcends the realm of “entertainment” and is capable of influencing areas related to social impact. The goal of a given agreement cannot be only about generating economic returns for the sponsor and the brand rights holder. Across all industries, fans & customers look for brands that are creating positive impact in society and are clear about their purpose beyond generating profits.
They are willing to reward those who do so consistently and are transparent about it as stated in this article from econsultancy:
According to a 2019 survey by Markstein, 70% of consumers want to know what the brands they support are doing to address social and environmental issues and 46% pay close attention to a brand’s social responsibility efforts when they buy a product.
Meanwhile, Deloitte research found that 80% of consumers would be willing to pay more for a product if the brand focused on becoming more environmentally and socially responsible.
Purpose, values, and social impact need to be embedded in the strategic conversation when designing a sponsorship deal and its activation and consequently, our proposal is to evolve the above framework to the following:
The base of this framework must be brand purpose as it should help answer the question: “Why are we here?”
We are firm believers of the role purpose has in driving positive results for any organization. In that sense, we highly recommend the work carried out by Jim Stengel (former CMO at P&G) in this field. As it is pointed out in his website, "purpose" is a critical element to drive employee engagement, customer relationships and of course, bottom-line growth.
Purpose will then enable the definition of the mission, values, and impact that the organization pursues. Moreover, purpose also helps sport organizations retain their best talent:
Finally, the eight elements defined in the original framework will help shape the scope and the activation of the sponsorship agreement.
Purpose driven sponsorship in the basketball industry
We were involved in the development of a purpose driven sponsorship program for a top basketball organization of the Spanish professional league.
In particular, while this club has been competing at the highest level for years and is considered one of the “classics” of the league, its better known for the social impact it creates across three main areas rather than its achievements on the court:
We cover this case study with greater detail in this post but in essence, the program looked to obtain funds from top tier companies of the Spanish market and invest them across the areas described above (which implied that none of those resources went to the professional men´s team) in an effort to increase the positive impact that the club makes in society, rather than focusing on just pursuing economic return for the organization.
All along the different pitches and meetings we had, one of the things that stood out was the reaction from executives of leading businesses when they heard stories and actions that were being carried out by this club.
They bought into the mission, the values and the magnitude of the impact it was creating across society, which were all originally defined by the purpose of the organization.
Feel free to check out the case study and contact us if you have any doubts or questions and let us help you design a sport sponsorship program that will take your business to the next level.
Meanwhile, keep safe.