Can too many Sponsors Dilute a Rights-Holder’s Brand?
22nd August, 2013
In sports leagues around the world, success on the field is ultimately driven by commercial revenue. As a consequence, their response has been to bring in sponsors to help facilitate the gap in funding. But this growing emphasis upon sponsorship has left many people asking – are too many sponsors diluting the right-holder’s brand?
Sponsors make the brand more vibrant
When discussing the ever increasing number of sponsors in sport, it would be hard not to mention Manchester United, having just signed another spread of partners across the globe. The club has recently signed the Indonesian tyre producer bringing the club’s sponsorship total to 33. It begs to ask the question – are these sponsors devaluing the Manchester United brand?
Jonathan Rigby CM for MU, has rejected that the club has anywhere near reached its limit. He states that by implementing a local model amongst the 77 countries they have sponsors in currently, they are appealing to each fan individually, making the brand more vibrant and producing a follow on effect which will ultimately benefit all sponsors involved.
This certainly seems to be the case when you look at their operating profit, which has increased this year by 13.7%. The club has also just signed a new shirt deal worth nearly £500 million over 8 years, increasing their commercial sponsorship revenue to £118 million annually.
More value lies in fewer partners
In comparison, Juventus believe going the other way is more rewarding. The club believes that having valuable relationships with fewer brands will bring you more credibility amongst your following, and as a result will lead to greater financial weight behind the deals. This is the case for Jeep who is currently their headline sponsor, and one of 15 corporate partners. In a public image driven market, and where it is only public interest which governs your reach; keeping it close to home can be seen as vital.
It’s the end product that matters
Brands enter into sponsorship for a multitude of reasons, but generally speaking, brands sponsor rights-holders for the audience, exposure, association and to fulfill their own brand objectives. For rights-holders, one of the main things they rely upon, aside from funding, is the fans/ their audience. As a platform, sponsorship allows both the rights-holder and brand to connect to their audience in a wholly tailored way.
The focus, therefore, shouldn’t be based on the amount of sponsors, but upon the end product – what the partnership has created for the fan, the overall experience and the club. MU’s model works because it has such a wide fan base and global sponsorship platform that allows them to associate with their following in all corners of the world. Juventus, on the other hand, has had success through its emphasis upon a few partners that have a strong affiliation to the club, keeping it close to home allows them to stay true to both the sponsor and the rights-holder’s objectives.
So long as the sponsorship is delivered and is aligned to the brand’s objectives and these objectives align with those of the rights-holder, the end product should ultimately benefit both club and sponsor. Dilution of the brand will come when parties lose sight of their overall objective.