According to Sports industry analyst Matt Powell of the NPD Group, of the top 10 best selling sneakers of 2017, four of them Air Jordan models. While they’re undoubtedly fine shoes, it is evident that their biggest selling point is the Jumpman logo emblazoned on the side.
How Big Is a Sports Sponsor?
Companies worldwide spend an estimated $50 billion on sponsorships every year. Although some of that money is eventually used to support music festivals and other types of entertainment, sports sponsors take the lion’s share of the pie. Not only is it big, but sponsorship is increasing at a faster rate than the whole advertising industry, with an annual growth of 4%, compared to 3% for any other advertising field. The reason is that sports sponsorship is an effective tool in promoting brands. By associating them with successful athletes, companies positively increase brand visibility, which in turn has a major impact on sales.
How Does Sports Sponsorship Work?
Sports fans are normally very committed to an athlete’s chosen sport. The decision to buy new clothes or shoes comes from two directions. More apparent is the desire to appear and dress like their hero or identify with their club by wearing their jersey. Another reason is that they actually want to help their idol, and one way to try this is to buy whatever they advertise. They understand that the more autographed items their favourite athlete sells, the extra money they will earn and they’re keen to help in any way they can. It does not matter if they support a football club, a basketball star, or a NASCAR team, fans are at all times loyal and often fanatical about their passion, which is how the word fan was coined in the first place. It did not take long for companies to discover that this passion can be tapped into and can have a big impact on their profit margins.
Danica Patrick, the most successful female driver, has signed a deal with GoDaddy that spans more than a decade. Both parties benefit from it, which is the hallmark of a good deal. Danica is getting the money she needs to race and GoDaddy is linking their brand with probably the most successful drivers and media sensation in NASCAR. Another example of a successful sports partnership is cooperation between betting giant Bet365 Casino and Spain’s La Liga, probably the most watched soccer competitions in the world. In exchange for a large sum of money, they’ve received enormous exposure by displaying their logo on ten club jerseys, watched by millions every week. And obviously, you cannot speak about sports sponsorship without mentioning Air Jordan, perhaps the most successful partnership between a brand and an athlete.
A Not-So-Successful Partnership
It’s not all milk and honey, obviously. There are numerous examples of bad sports sponsorship. Perhaps the most striking example is Lance Armstrong. Within 24 hours of it becoming public knowledge that he was using illegal substances, eight of them sponsor dropped it as the saying goes hot potato. Nike, which is his largest sponsor, issued an announcement claiming that Armstrong had “misled Nike for over a decade”. It shows how quickly and mercilessly companies react to any perceived threat to their brand. There are also deals that actually do not make sense, such as McDonald’s being the official Olympic restaurant, even though, with the amount of money Micky D’s has, it’s simple to see why the Olympic Committee would have approved this sponsorship.
The influence of sports sponsorship on customers boils all the way down to easy psychology. The kids wanted the new Harden shoes because they thought it would help them improve that triple step backwards and since they wanted to look cool. Adults want to be related to Harden, and it definitely looks cool. The mechanics are easy and nearly guaranteed to work, which is why many brands pay big bucks to attract athletes and sign them.