The Sweet Spot of Sports Event Sponsorship

Chris Robb, Managing Director, Spectrum Worldwide

As sport continues to cement its foothold in Singapore culture and the nation looks ahead to the opening of the Sports Hub, more and more companies are recognising the huge potential that exists within the growing market.

While there’s no cut and dry formula for brands to find the perfect event, there are certainly some key guidelines they can follow in order to find the sweet spot of sports event sponsorship.

Conducting some thorough research is an integral part to creating a successful partnership.

Mighty Savers

Key objectives, preferably measureable, must be set from the very beginning. What exactly does the brand want to achieve through the partnership? Does the event provide the brand with the audience group it’s looking to target? Is the event staged in a brand’s target market and does it offer potential to grow alongside the brand’s long term plans?

It’s then vitally important to ensure the objectives match up with what the event/property owner is out to achieve. As an event owner and organiser, it’s a crucial conversation for Spectrum Worldwide to hold with any potential partners.

If both sets of objectives are lined up, the next step is to ensure the event delivers the necessary platform or communication channels for a brand to then meet those objectives. It’s also the role of the event owner to cater to its partner’s specific requirements and tailor the details as required. A key priority for the owner is to keep partners for the long term and grow the relationship by creating new activation opportunities along the way.

Once the strategies are set in place at the beginning, thorough assessments must be held throughout the campaign to reassess or recalibrate if any aspects need tinkering.

Developing a thorough contingency plan is also important in ensuring key objectives are still met if things happen to go wrong, particularly during the event itself.

One of my key mantras in the industry is “However well an event is planned, there will always be something that does not go according to plan – it’s how the team responds to it that is the ultimate definition of its success”.

I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in the sports event industry for over 25 years and have had many experiences of needing to activate contingency plans.

I worked as the Road Events Supervisor for the Men’s and Women’s Marathons at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. During the Men’s Marathon on the final day, we had howling winds which tested numerous contingencies.

Just a few weeks out from OCBC Cycle Malaysia 2013, as the event owners we were advised by the authorities that a major political rally was scheduled to be staged at the same venue and weekend as our event.

A couple of weeks prior to OCBC Cycle Singapore 2013, the tragic developments unfolded at the Boston Marathon which subsequently presented a whole host of security challenges late in the final planning stages.

At a JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge in Sydney, high winds caused the postponement of the event and continued until the next day when we were left with no choice but to cancel the event.

In all cases, a thorough contingency plan was activated in order to not only appease often frustrated participants but also event partners who have spent months of hard work and a significant investment preparing for the big occasion.

As we roll out Cycle Asia, our new network of premier cycling events across the region, there are obvious obstacles placed in our way as we enter new markets. Delivering an event in Singapore is nothing like bringing the same event to the Philippines. An event in Malaysia presents completely different challenges to those faced in countries such as Australia or Indonesia.

It’s how you deal with those challenges that define your success.

The game is also changing, presenting another completely new set of challenges. The emergence of social media has played a huge role in the evolution. If things go slightly off plan, unhappy participants have an instant platform to vent their frustration and how successfully those issues are managed is vital in retaining loyal participants and ensuring event partners keep their reputations with the public intact.

At the same time, the entire digital platform presents great opportunities to market and grow an event, ultimately delivering benefits for event partners. Being able to measure those benefits is crucial in today’s competitive market. Singapore’s sporting calendar is bursting at the seams with running events, making it increasingly difficult for brands to differentiate between the large number of properties, but with the growing global popularity of ‘mob races’ like The Colour Run and mud runs such as Tough Mudder, the arrival of such events will provide unique sponsorship opportunities in the market.

We’re hugely excited about the phenomenal growth cycling is enjoying at the moment; not just in Singapore but right across the region, and we’re certainly proud to be at the forefront of the sport’s growth and executing successful events alongside our partners.

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