Four things about modern sports sponsorship deals that you should know:

As the Indian Premier League is putting the machine together for its 2022 season, teams and the league itself have begun to close sponsor deals.

There was a time when sponsorship deals were simple - A brand or company wished to sponsor a team or league; terms of the deal were discussed, money was exchanged, and the team or league went about delivering what they promised.

Till about ten years ago sponsorship deliverables were simple: logo placement on the jersey or uniform, logo placement on the perimeter boards, ads during the broadcast of the game, tickets to the games, and appearances of players at a brand or company event.

With the evolution of technology and digital media, however, modern sports sponsorship deals have become both broader and specific.

Broader since deals now also include deliverables on digital media as well as on ground.

Specific since deals now can be digital-only.

Teams and leagues are getting creative with digital media offerings to brands and companies or making marketing campaigns more effective.

Whether it is using technology to offer unique outlets for engagement, to using data to track progress and report on the campaign, digital has added a whole new spectrum to sports sponsorship deals.

Here are four ways in which modern day sports sponsorship deals have evolved:

Digital - Only Deals

Previously sponsorship deals were largely restricted to three elements

Logo presence on the uniform

Logo presence on ground during an event or match

TV advertisements during a live telecast

With the arrival and development of digital media, however, teams and leagues are getting more creative with their sponsorship offerings.

It is not uncommon to see teams engaging in digital only deals, i.e. deals that give access to brands or companies to activate their campaigns on digital media platforms only.

This world for brands and companies in two ways.

One, this is a perfect setup for brands and companies that do business primarily online - be it their products or services.

Two, this allows teams or leagues to broaden their base of sponsors. There are often sponsors with smaller budgets that want to associate with a team. Digital only deals allow teams to accommodate these smaller brands or smaller budgets by restricting their marketing campaigns to digital media only.

Digital only deals are also beneficial for both brands and teams as campaigns can be targeted and tracked diligently.

Online Community Engagement

A team or a league’s community used to be the fans staying in the locality of the team’s home ground.

With the world getting smaller and fans moving away from home for better opportunities, teams have to find a way to keep their place in their fans’ hearts.

Building online communities is a trend that does not seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

Teams and leagues spend a lot of time and energy building, maintaining and sustaining their online communities.

Brands and companies understand how deeply fans are rooted with their favourite teams. They often attach their identity to their favourite teams or sports.

This passionate feeling is something brands and companies wish to capitalise on using sponsorship deals.

This could be in the form of exclusive discounts on products or service to community members, exclusive access to players for meet & greets, unique experiences or giveaways for community members.

Tech-based Activation

Technology has allowed brands to get smarter and more innovative with sponsorship marketing and activation.

Take for example how Twitter took over the massive LED hoarding at Time Square. People who tweeted using a particular hashtag were able to briefly see their tweet up on a prime hoarding in Time Square - one of the most expensive pieces of advertising real estate in the world.

Another great example is how teams and brands are using VR or Virtual Reality to give fans an immersive experience while they sit in the comfort of their homes.

Innovative ideas that make optimal use of technology have now become an important part of sports sponsorship deals.

Stadiums too have begun to incorporate digital experiences across the concourse. While it has yet to come to India, teams internationally have multiple interactive digital kiosks setup across the stadium - both as a way to communicate vital information to their fans.

Brands leverage fans of a team or league on match day to buy, engage, or become aware of their brand. Mobile first marketing campaigns that attach themselves to live game or match, are commonplace now, while they were largely absent as recently as ten years ago.

Data-led and data-centric deliverables and targets

The use of data has been among the biggest leaps that sports sponsorship deals have made in the last ten years.

Prior to the arrival of and tracking of big data, marketing and sponsorship deals were tracked with surface level data available.

Take an ad out in the newspaper - data is how many read the newspaper.

Put up a hoarding at a busy junction - data is how many people and vehicles use that junction on an average per day.

Until a few years ago, TV, radio, print, and OOH were only able to provide surface level data of who was watching, consuming and engaging with marketing campaigns.

Today, however, high-level technology enables brands to accurately capture deeper levels of data about those who have seen, and engaged with marketing campaigns.

Granted much of thai data capturing technology is restricted to digital media platforms. However, that is changing rapidly with the arrival of smart TVs, for example. Technology that accurately captures how many times a brand's logo appeared on screen and for how long is also available now.

Data does, and will continue to drive sponsorship decisions moving ahead. It will also remain critical to establishing deliverables, setting targets, and form the basis of post-campaign reporting.


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