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How influential can sports sponsorships be?

How influential can sports sponsorships be?

"Sport is now the only potential discipline where you can engage very high numbers of people"
Jean Pierre Diernaz, VP Marketing, Nissan Europe

Sponsorship in sports is highly sought after. In Formula 1, teams emblazon brands across their uniforms and cars, while in football, clubs have a sponsor showing on the front of their strip. Recently, teams in the English Premier League have also been allowed to introduce additional sponsors to the sleeves of their jerseys and clubs in the lower leagues can include a sponsor on their shirt tails. But, why are companies so desperate for such deals? Vice president of marketing at Nissan Europe, Jean Pierre Diernaz, said: “Sport is now the only potential discipline where you can engage very high numbers of people.”

In this article, we delve into examples of the value of major sponsorships to a business…

Individual sports stars

Firstly, let’s look at individual sports stars and how influential they can be. An example of this is Michael Jordan in basketball. The former superstar still brings in a whopping $110 million each year thanks to his deal with Nike – over 15 years after he retired from the sport. Retro Jordan trainers (or sneakers if you may) are still strong sellers. In the fiscal year ending May 2016, the range’s revenue was $2.8 billion, meaning a deal with the star is certainly worth it for the clothing giants.

Former sprinter Usain Bolt’s sponsorship deal with Puma is another prime example of how stars can increase a brand’s equity as well as brand awareness. They used him in the Olympics in 2016 to enhance their brand awareness without having to be an official sponsor of the Games. Knowing he would be one of the most photographed participants, they knew they’d be heavily involved in media content. Bolt helped to do this by taking off his iconic trainers after a gold-winning run and making them noticeable to the whole stadium and in every photo. 


Football – or soccer – is the most popular sport in the world. With an estimated 3.5 billion fans worldwide, sponsoring a football team can open your brand up to so many potential customers across the globe.

While Audi also sponsors a host of major sporting clients, including ice hockey club ERC Ingolstadt, they have a huge presence in football. For one, they are the official vehicle partner for Spanish football giants Real Madrid. But, what does this actually mean? Well, simply put, each member of the Real Madrid first team is provided with an Audi to drive, with the Audi Q7 E Tron among those most popular among the players in 2017. The pair have been unified since July 2003 and remain two of the most successful entities in the world.

Staff at Real Madrid clearly benefit from this partnership, but what does Audi get from the deal? With Real Madrid being a team full of superstars, the car manufacturer takes advantage of their stature in advertisements. They also perform virtual test drives of new models to build its reputation. 

Elsewhere, the German manufacturer is also the main sponsors of Germany’s biggest club, Bayern Munich. Having been partnered since 2002, they extended that agreement until 2025 in 2015, showing that there is great value in such deals. For their estimated €10 million-per-year-deal, the German manufacturers get their logo printed on the match shirts as well as an 8.8% share in the football club.

Audi aren’t the only car company to delve into the football market, either. Volkswagen are invested in the sport too thanks to their sponsorship deal with UEFA. The partnership, agreed in 2017, saw the two entities connected for four years between 2018 and 2022. They plan to release their new e-mobility family in 2020 – just in time for the next European Championships, which will be held across 13 countries and so providing ultimate exposure and brand awareness.

The Volkswagen brand’s CEO, Dr Herbert Diess, said: “No other sport is as powerful as football or unites so many people. Furthermore, UEFA EURO 2020, which is being played across the entire continent, is a fantastic project. Our wish is to contribute towards building bridges between all countries and football fans with our mobility and creativity.”

Rugby union

Rugby union is currently only behind football in the popularity stakes in the UK. In April 2018, English rugby’s top teams agreed to a four-year sponsorship deal worth £40 million with insurance company Gallagher. While the company is US-founded, it currently has 50 UK branches and will be looking to get a stranglehold on the industry thanks to the exposure it will receive from the sport.

Chairman, President and CEO of the company, J. Patrick Gallagher Jr, said when discussing the announcement of the sponsorship: “By uniting with this globally-known and fast-growing franchise, we have a terrific opportunity to increase awareness about our company, values, expertise and services, and jointly participate in community projects and causes to make a difference. This dynamic business and marketing partnership with Premiership Rugby reflects who we are culturally and professionally.”

It’s comments such as these that help to show just how effective sponsorship in sport is expected to be.


While these are just a small example of marketing deals in sports, it’s clear that every sport can have an influence on an audience. Choosing the correct sporting sponsorships can pretty much guarantee global exposure for a business, making it a no brainer. Sponsoring a festival or other event won’t even come close to the outreach levels provided by sports, and that is why sports will continue to be extremely influential in sponsorships. Which is the biggest sponsorship deal you can think of in your favourite sport?














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