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Sporting chance

Sporting chance

Sports sponsorship was slow to get off the ground in the Middle East, but as brands develop more vibrant and sophisticated approaches, the game is changing.


February 22, 2010 4:12 by

Leverage, longevity, linkage, language. Leverage, longevity, linkage, language. This marketing tongue-twister will guarantee a successful sports sponsorship marketing strategy if repeated daily.

So says Graham Hollins, director of Spine Consulting, a UK-based training consultancy with a specialization in sponsorship. He explains that many people commonly misunderstand the role of sponsorship.

“It’s a common fallacy that sponsorship is about getting a straightforward exchange of money for signage or some form of visibility,” says Hollins. “Unlike advertising – where messages are communicated in a more two-dimensional way – sponsorship has the opportunity to provide an experience and to be very interactive.”

So how can brands use sports to create an experience for their audiences, and to interact with them on a level that will leave a lasting impression? Christian Fedorczuk, strategy director at OMD media agency in Dubai, says there are “a thousand different ways to connect audiences” depending on the sport, but that there are three essential pillars that hold up a successful interaction. “First, we require a clear strategy and long-term commitment to a sport,” says Fedorczuk. “The second thing is we try to provide a benefit for the fan, and not just stick a logo somewhere. The third thing is that the brand, the sport, and the audience should work together.”

Donal Kilalea, chief executive and executive vice-president of Dubai’s Promoseven Sports Marketing, says the sports arena is one that all brands can get involved with, because of its reach. “Every person is a sports person,” says Kilalea. “Whether it’s playing tiddlywinks or long-distance running, it’s the one thing that unites us all.” Regionally, Kilalea says, the sports field has grown fast over the past six years, giving a big boost to the sports marketing industry.

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