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Sponsorship in MotoGP is a highly efficient tool for companies of any type to achieve their marketing and sales goals. The popularity of the World Motorcycling Championship, with its wide and cross-cutting target audience, and the geographical features of the championship contribute to creating a stunning marketing platform that offers numerous benefits and various activation opportunities. Our intent with this post is to provide our readers with an overview of sponsorship in MotoGP, addressing its costs, advantages and application opportunities, and presenting some of our case histories for the sake of exemplification.  MotoGP sponsorship: definition and purpose

As is the case with all sports marketing programmes, sports sponsorship too (sponsorship in MotoGP, more specifically) serves the major purpose of endowing companies with winning communication and promotional assets, which are intended to eventually pursue high levels of effectiveness. Without using metaphors, sports sponsorship, and sponsorship in MotoGP as a result, is a tool which companies use in the attempt to increase their sales, to win new market shares, to re-position their brand, and to enhance the visibility and popularity of the brand, among others.

What is sports sponsorship then? As we pointed out in this blog on several occasions, sports sponsorship is defined as follows: “the acquisition of rights in goods and/or services upon monetary compensation, resulting from affiliation or association with a product, a team/club, an organization or an event for the purpose of deriving benefits related to that affiliation or association at financial, marketing or reputation level (Mullin, Hardy, 2014)”.

A key issue to understand the entire concept of sponsorship is the rights vested on the sponsor upon signing of a sponsorship agreement. The stipulation of the sponsorship agreement vests the sponsor with a series of rights, which are distinguished between “acquired rights” and “derived rights”. These form the ground based on which the company will implement its subsequent marketing actions. Acquired rights include the rights that are expressly mentioned in the sports sponsorship agreement: the type and extent of visibility on motorbikes and communication media, the number of passes available for hospitalities, the possibility to use showbikes, the participation of riders and team managers in company’s events, and so on and so forth. Derived rights, on the other hand, are rights indirectly resulting from acquired rights and their rise depends on the smart use of the tools specified in the agreement. Derived rights include, for instance, the possibility to organise a contest promoted using images of the sponsored team, in which the final prize is a ticket for a Grand Prix race. They also include special storytelling for the social media, in which the users are engaged online with the help of new and original arguments using pictures and videos shot in collaboration with the Team.

This preliminary introduction is intended to clarify a key concept, which we will try and point out in further details below: sponsorship in MotoGP is not merely limited and down to the application of a decal on the fairing of a team’s or a rider’s motorbike. It is far more than this: visibility is, in fact, one of many benefits resulting from a sponsorship agreement, always in pursuance of the company’s objectives and in line with its marketing and sales goals.

MotoGP sponsorship: targets, audience, geography and values

Focusing on MotoGP sponsorships, after briefly hinting at the meaning and potential of sports sponsorships, necessarily leads to address the other half of heaven, i.e. MotoGP. RTR Sports Marketing has been offering consultancy to businesses that are willing to use sports marketing to achieve their goals for over 20 years now, paying special attention to the world of motor sports: MotoGP, Formula 1, Formula E and MotoE.

Why has our main focus been on motor sports, some may ask? Apart from being a personal preference, the decision to focus on motor sports, and MotoGP especially, is based on many reasons which are extremely valuable for both companies and brands at commercial level.

These reasons include the size of the audience, the geography of the target audience, the composition of the audiences and value-related motivations. This topic is worth a more in-depth investigation.

  • AUDIENCE SIZE: MotoGP, the longest lasting motor championship in the world, is an amazingly popular series. It is quite fair to say that, together with other prestigious leagues and sports (e.g. the Champions League, the NBA, the Premier League and Formula 1), MotoGP actually has an appeal on a wide and global audience. Some simple figures can illustrate the size of this market: each racing weekend (19 per year in total) 207 nations receive the video signal of the World Motor Championship, with each race totalling a number of viewers equal to hundred million people. These are stunning figures which become more so if you take into account the number of digital interactions (6.7 billion last year, totalled by the various official online platforms together – Source: Dorna) and the actual spectators at the Grand Prix races, which hit 2,884,242 tickets sold in 2018.
  • GEOGRAPHY: one of the greatest advantages offered by MotoGP sponsorships to companies is its extraordinary internationality. The 19-race championship visits 14 nations in 5 continents in the course of 9 months, which makes it a travelling communication platform. Internationality is not merely a quality of the TV audience and the people behind the screen: every weekend companies have the opportunity to engage the audience in different countries with hospitality initiatives and operations in the shopping areas of the race circuits.
  • VALUES: as all motor sports, MotoGP too embodies highly appreciated values that are shared by most companies. Besides competitiveness, the pursuit of success and team work, which are common to most sports, MotoGP has peculiarities linked to speed, technology and development to enhance performances. These are, of course, features and qualities that any company would be willing to be associated with. Overlapping values or the transfer of values from the sports property to the sponsor company is one of the distinguishing features of the sports sponsorship tool. The association with sport, which is rich in noble and prestigious meanings and values, enables the brands to rapidly acquire a multitude of values which both the audience and the other investors appreciate.
Benefits resulting from MotoGP sponsorship: visibility, B2B, brand positioning and much more

After dealing with sponsorship in MotoGP and listing some of the peculiarities of the Championship, it is worth briefly dwelling on the advantages resulting from MotoGP sponsorships for a would-be sponsor company.

As is the case with all sponsorships, the advantages offered to companies by sponsorships in MotoGP are many and different, in both commercial and marketing terms. Please find a short and non comprehensive list below.

  • VISIBILITY AND BRAND AWARENESS:where provided in the sponsorship agreement, the application of the brand on the motorbikes or racing suits immediately triggers huge visibility at international level. Given the very large numbers mentioned above and the extraordinary media coverage during the racing weekends, MotoGP can offer very high visibility to all brands, irrespective of their location on the fairing of a motorbike, a racing suit or the large billboards along the racing track, which are a prerogative to the official sponsors of the World Motor Championship. Visibility translates into brand awareness. This is an essential aspect for companies that wish to win new markets and to become known to the general public, as well as for already popular brands that wish to keep their position in the mind of consumers and strengthen brand preference.
  • B2B: another essential key topic, which is too often underestimated, relates to great Business To Business opportunities, in other words the possibility for companies that are MotoGP partners to directly enter into mutual agreements. As was mentioned many times in our blog, being in the paddock means being a member of an exclusive club joined by other companies that are willing to expand their business network and relationships. This facilitates the establishment of new commercial agreements between partner companies and other businesses. Additionally, companies are offered the opportunity to directly enter into deals with the big manufacturers of the World Motor Championship, which are at the same time sports teams and the extension of large groups on the race track (Honda, for instance, producing 16 million pieces a year) constantly looking for the best suppliers and partners for their business.
  • B2C: thirdly, one of the main advantages and benefits deriving from sponsorships is the positive effect on sales. Data published by Dorna show that consumers prefer products and companies that are associated with the World Motor Championship. How can this be explained? Firstly, visibility and communication help the products climb up along the imaginary scale of consumers’ awareness, who thus associate them to an activity they appreciate. Secondly, the bond with a series having a tested value makes the products immediately more credible and reliable to consumers.
  • STORYTELLING:by its very nature, sponsorship offers the sponsor company the possibility to use the name, image and reputation of the sponsored property. This means creating a large database of pictures and videos to build an interesting storytelling for customers. It is basically about finding highly efficient communication arguments which have a direct grip on the end consumers or on the surrounding pool of investors. Becoming a partner of MotoGP means becoming an integral piece of an intriguing puzzle and a member of a great story which has to do with sports and much more than this. Using these arguments at best in communication means enjoying a huge competitive advantage to competitors.
  • SOCIAL REACH: the concepts above are especially true in this time of digital communication and social media. In a scenario where everyone has a profile in the Internet – companies and private citizens alike – having the opportunity to use pictures and videos of beloved, appreciated and very popular riders to populate one’s timeline is a key asset. In addition to this, the communication departments of the teams and riders can contribute their support and help to further strengthen the operation. With their million followers all over the world, these people are highly powerful drivers for any digital communication strategy.
  • BRAND POSITIONING: the above-mentioned arguments concerning values are also essential when it comes to brand positioning, in other words the position of the brand in the consumer’s psychology. Getting associated with a championship that is so abounding in positive values appreciated by the public (speed, passion, performance, technology) is like saying “I am exactly like that!”, which improves the perception that our target audience have of our brand or product.
  • PR OPPORTUNITIES: last but not least, sponsorship is an excellent public relation tool. As explained above, it is not simply a matter of availing of a communication strategy that enjoys the favour and attention of the audience: you can also use riders, showbikes and protagonists from the racing world to breathe life to your conventions, trade exhibitions and company’s events.
Sponsoring a MotoGP rider or a Team, that is the question

The world of sponsorships in MotoGP is borderless and offers a large variety of opportunities which are very different from one another. This is why – which is always worth stressing – there are no predefined and pre-made sponsorship packages in MotoGP: each individual sponsorship project and each individual marketing plan are patiently assembled and tailored according to the objectives, demands and needs of the companies wishing to start the sponsorship.

Having said this, anyone willing to enter this world is faced with one first and significant decision to make: what to sponsor. Generally speaking, it is now fair to state that companies can sponsor or become partners in different realities, all of equal dignity and significance. Please find a list below, including a brief rationale.

  • SPONSORING A MOTOGP TEAM

Sponsoring a MotoGP Team is probably the most popular and most widely spread form of partnership in the World Motor Championship. Working with a team offers a series of benefits with immediate returns: the team owns visibility spaces on the motorbikes (the most visible items on TV and from the stands), governs the hospitality areas within the paddock and has the facilities, equipment and staff to place your logo on. In addition to this, the team offers another advantage that must not be underestimated. Riders may come and go, change their suit and fortune, but teams are stable and bound to stay: this is an important point, especially when focusing on long-term communication plans.

  • SPONSORING A MOTOGP RIDER

Riders are the actual heroes of this sport. They are the reason why fans queue on Sundays and patiently wait long hours outside their motor homes for a photo or an autograph. If, on the one hand, sponsoring a rider entails missing something in terms of live visibility (the spaces available on the helmet or on the suit are smaller and, often, they have already been optioned by the teams), on the other, it offers the opportunity to use the rider as your testimonial and to do so in digital communication. Riders have huge reaches and their accounts are often followed by many more people than the teams.

  • SPONSORING DORNA, THE MOTOGP ORGANISER 

A frequently missed opportunity is sponsoring the Championship organiser and becoming an official sponsor of the MotoGP World Championship. Although this option has higher economic entry levels than the two above, the returns on investments are, in most cases, undoubtedly stunning. The world championship organiser is the owner of the billboards on the circuits, organises the great Corporate hospitalities at the MotoGP VIP Village and manages the Title Sponsorships of the Grand Prix races. If this is not enough, consider the risks resulting from the possibility that a team or a rider experiences bad days or unlucky seasons. Well, these risks are definitely minimised when the subject of the partnership is the entity running the entire show.

  • SPONSORING THE MOBILE CLINIC

A word is also worth spending on the opportunities offered by sponsorships involving the Mobile Clinic. This historical reality of sports medicine, founded by Doctor Costa in the 70s and currently run by Doctor Zasa, is far more than a mere institution in the paddock. The Clinic is the place where riders are given First Aid, as well as rehab, physiotherapy and comfort. It represents an interesting occasion for companies in the healthcare, food supplement and medication industries to be in the paddock and get a cross-cutting position, certain of meeting all riders from all classes, often for a tiny price.

Sponsoring Moto2 and Moto3

The World Motorcycling Championship is not about MotoGP only: its line-ups are completed by Moto2, Moto3 and MotoE, categories which can be defined as lower for the engine size, but characterised by great competitive spirit and a terrific show. Both Moto2 and Moto3 reserve a great sports content to their fans, which partly comes from the vivacious personalities of the very young riders of Moto3 (250cc motorbikes) and from the huge balance of the Moto2 championship (600cc motorbikes). Dorna, the world championship organiser, was very cunning and gave all classes large dignity and equal value, thus effectively clearing the way from the idea of these being “minor categories”.

Sponsoring these categories and becoming a sponsor of Moto3 and Moto2 can be an extremely interesting starting point for companies with peculiar objectives and needs.

First of all, these classes fairly have lower entry investment levels for sponsors. It is quite legitimate to say – leaving metaphors aside – that a sponsorship in Moto2 costs less than a sponsorship in MotoGP and a sponsorship in Moto3 costs less than a sponsorship in Moto2. It is therefore an excellent starting point for businesses wishing to enter the world of the two wheels with certainly interesting programmes and having an efficient “gym”, at more affordable costs though.

Secondly, classes below MotoGP are undoubtedly more flexible in terms of sponsorship and activation opportunities. MotoGP teams hardly move out of the conventional contexts and rigid guidelines imposed by large manufacturers: lower classes are suppler with this respect.

The whole point, which raises a strategic more than a tactical issue, is: better to be “great among the small or small among the great”? In other words, with an equal level of investments, MotoGP offers far less than Moto2 and Moto3: less visibility, a smaller number of hospitality passes, fewer riders and managers ready to participate in company’s happenings and common events. Despite this, MotoGP undeniably has an extraordinary visibility and popularity – far greater than its underlying classes -, which makes each sponsor a major player on a much wider scene.

So, the question cannot be given one single indisputable answer: in this specific case, the company’s marketing objectives in conjunction with the expertise of the sports marketing agency can set the pace and define the best solution to take.

The right place for sponsors: an insight on visibility in MotoGP sponsorship

After addressing the sponsorship options with teams, riders and different classes, another important aspect to examine is the physical positioning of the sponsors within the given spaces. In other words, when it comes to visibility, what are the most coveted positions for the sponsors’ brands?

A very clear and, for some aspects, surprising answer to this question is given by current studies and research performed with highly sophisticated digital exposure measurement tools. Going against the common stream of thinking, riders generate the highest visibility for the sponsors – approx. 48% of the total – motorbikes account for 27%, the team 13% (suits worn by mechanics and Team Principals), locations in garages 7% and the remaining spaces 5%. Although this figure may sound surprising, it does make sense if you consider that the visibility generated throughout the weekend also includes interviews, prize giving, close-ups of the riders before the race start or tracking shots of the team in the box during, before and after the race.

And surprises do not end even when it comes to the positioning of the sponsors’ brands on the motorbike. The greatest visibility is not generated by the largest space on the bike, i.e. the side of the fairing, but by the small front windscreen which is often in the shooting direction of cameras. The front windscreen takes 33% of the scene to the detriment of the saddle (22%), the side fairings (18%), the low fairings (16%) and the two mudguards together (10%).

The above shows that “the biggest, the better” does not always apply when it comes to visibility. A small brand affixed near the front windscreen is better than a large brand which is always missed by the cameras. This is where

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Main SponsorTop SponsorTitle SponsorOfficial SponsorFront SponsorMinor Sponsor: these are all types of sponsorship that fill up the Internet (and the newspapers), but often risk to lead astray first-time novices in the world of sports sponsorships or the most curious fans.

Let’s clear all doubts having a look at the definition of these terms, which are not that mysterious after all.  The names of the different sponsorship types or levels, to be more precise, are left to the imagination of those who prepare the sponsorship packages (the set of rights that the sponsor buys from a team or a club).

Types of Sponsorship: Something to fit everyone’s tastes

The above list of names may be supplemented with others, such as Gold sponsorSilver sponsor and Bronze sponsor – recently, I even happened to read Platinum Sponsor -, in addition to technical sponsor or technical partner, Series’ sponsor, which are quite popular, and many more.

Practically, each type of sponsorship package is given the name that the package maker likes best ….. But what does a package contain? This is definitely a more interesting aspect to investigate. Let’s take the example of Title Sponsors.

Meaning of Title Sponsor and baseline rights included in the sponsorship package

Title Sponsor is the main sponsor, the most important one. This sponsor gives the team its name and colours (e.g. Monster Energy Yamaha Team or Repsol Honda Team) and, as is obvious, it is the one enjoying the greatest visibility.

The title sponsor has the privilege of filling most of the space on the fairing – between 60% and 70% of the square centimetres available (motor bikes are one of many applications, including football jerseys and other team sports, and generally any other medium used by the different sports disciplines).

The percentages above are also valid for all other supports used by the team: clothing, hospitality facilities, means of transport, letterhead, overalls, website, and so on and so forth.

In addition to higher visibility, the Title Sponsor also acquires a larger number of rights or, in any case, more extensive rights than any other partner. For instance, Titles Sponsors have more hospitality tickets than other partners, the rider/driver will be available for them or team staff will be attending their events on more occasions, in addition to having a larger number of merchandising items and gadgets to give out, and so on and so forth.
The team, on its turn, has the key role of providing for a fair balance among invested budget, official name and benefits included in the packages.

 

Marketing rights: the gist of the deal

Regardless of the level of investment and the resulting qualification, all types of sponsorship basically buy one simple thing: marketing rights. In other words, they acquire the right to use the name, reputation and image of the sponsored entity/person in any and all communication activities, prior authorisation by the team.

It goes without saying that this is the most important right in all sponsorship packages and it offers the sponsor the opportunity to say “I am in it” using various means. This right has very positive side effects. Sponsors appearing on a jersey or a fairing are dragged into any communication campaign that the other team sponsors may undertake. If the team you are sponsoring has partners with significant budgets, you may end up being involved in TV, billboard and press campaigns to a far greater extent than you had expected at the beginning of the season. If this makes you sleepless because you are concerned that your brand may be shadowed by others, please be informed that sponsorship agreements normally include a clause by which the sponsors are prevented from shadowing the other existing brands when they use the image of the team in communication.

 

Minor sponsor: should this term be crossed out?

The term “minor sponsor” is the quite popular, yet awful term used to indicate smaller sponsors. Smaller sponsors are extremely helpful to the teams and they contribute to making their management more secure. The spreading of risk is essential and no team can afford to put their destiny in the hands of two or three partners only. Crises of any type whatsoever, including those that are not necessarily connected to the company performance, may endanger the sponsorship programme to such extent that it is terminated with potentially fatal repercussions on the team who may lose most of the resources required to carry on their professional sporting activity.

Official partner is the best definition, in my view. This is not merely the most elegant term, but it is also the most accurate one. The significance of a sponsor should not be measured exclusively by the size of the financial agreement signed by the parties. Any partner, each with its own history, is an important contributor.

 

Definition of sponsors in MotoGP

Almost all MotoGP teams have a title sponsor after which the team is named. The name is used in all team communications to the outer world and in all official sports communications, from press releases to presentations, from graphs presented on the TV to naming sponsorships in sector magazines.

Below is the list of the MotoGP Teams in 2019:

  • Repsol Honda Team
  • Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP
  • Mission Winnow Ducati
  • LCR Honda Castrol
  • LCR Honda Idemitsu
  • Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
  • Team Suzuki Ecstar
  • Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
  • Red Bull KTM Tech3
  • Petronas Yamaha SIC
  • Reale Avintia Racing
  • Alma Pramac Racing

Excluding Aprilia and Suzuki, the nomenclature of the teams is derived from the Title Sponsor. Some are historical sponsors, such as Repsol, and they are now part of the team DNA. Others, such as Mission Winnow (the innovative Philip Morris project) or Monster Energy, are making their very first appearance as title sponsors in the world motor championship.

The rule by which each team define their own sponsors according to internal logics also applies to MotoGP: some may call them sponsors, others may call them partners, some call them official, main or technical sponsors and others use the term suppliers. The point is that each team refers to the different levels of sponsorship as they like best and this poses the risk of creating a little confusion in those less experienced. The golden rule is: challenge the maze and find your way out of it.

Last, but not least, it is worth pointing out the key role of technical sponsors in MotoGP as they supply materials to the teams (or at least they are supposed to). Normally, they are companies from associated sectors that use the Series to show their customers how their contribution, including in R&D, is essential to achieve high level performances and results on the race track.

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The post Main Sponsor, Front Sponsor and Minor Sponsor: a definition maze appeared first on RTRSports.

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A largely growing trend in the context of sports marketing is the creation of a marketing bond between sports and the geographical areas where sports events take place.

On the one hand, all great sports events share the peculiarity of placing the location of the event in full view of hundred million people. The connection between a sports event and the location is so strong that the territory and the sport become an unbreakable couple. Take Indianapolis 500 or Daytona: the races have given such a specific identity to their respective locations that they are now indelible in popular culture. On other occasions territories use the Football World Cup, the Olympic Games or the Grand Prix to revitalise their image and stand out on the world map, as is the case with Sochi in Russia, Baku in Azerbaijan or south-eastern Asian countries.

On the other hand, when they cannot organise or host large sports events, territories tend to more and more frequently use sport and sports sponsorship for the remote promotion of their offer with potential tourists or investors. The widely debated “Visit Rwanda” printed on the jerseys of the Arsenal players and many similar initiatives are good examples of the above.

To recap, there are two possible ways to create the bond between sports events and territories:

  1. a Nation, region or city may organise sports events in their own territory with a view to promoting the country’s economy and marketing positioning. This is known as “geomarketing” operations or territorial marketing;
  2. a Nation, region or city may use sports sponsorships with teams/clubs or athletes, who are geographically far from them, to improve the visibility of their territory and to attract tourists and investors.
Objectives do affect the choice

As stated above, a large sports event immediately has the power to place a location, a city or a nation under the spotlight. In many cases, such as the Olympic Games or the Football World Cup, the sports event also becomes a good occasion to modernise the existing infrastructures, to build new districts in the city and to reorganise the transport system. It serves the purpose of showing the world one’s best side and, at the same time, it helps to jumpstart local enterprises and to bring credit to the city prestige. Barcelona, where the Olympic Games contributed to the radical transformation of both the city and its suburbs, may be referenced as an evident example of the above.

On the other hand, when a Nation, a geographical area or a municipality decide to host one of the stops of a great travelling event such as Formula E or MotoGP, the purpose is very likely to be more tactical and the benefits originating from the positive economic repercussions on the territory are expected to come in a shorter time. The industry of hospitality, overall, including shops and other businesses, draws enormous advantages from the huge feasting audience that fill the city for a whole weekend.

Why sport? Does it really work? An example connected to awareness: Imola and F1

Have you ever been to Imola? I bet few of you have, respectfully but honestly speaking. Imola is a nice town in Romagna with approx. sixty thousand inhabitants. Although the town is well-known for its ceramics, its worldwide fame actually comes from the fact that it used to host the Formula 1 Grand Prix of San Marino for many years. Those were the days when this F1 event was broadcast live and on free-to-air television reaching out to an audience of 400 million viewers all over the world. The result? Imola was known to everybody at the time, although the borough was one of many and did not have any peculiarities making it unique (hopefully, this will not annoy our dear fellow friends from Imola, who deserve our appreciation for their enthusiastic efforts to keep the two souls of our region – Emilia and Romagna – tightly together). It would be extremely interesting to test the level of awareness that today’s teenagers have to Imola, considering that they have never had the pleasure of watching the historical duels that F1 and the race track named after Enzo and Dino Ferrari gave us at the time.

Food for thought on this subject

A large sports event can become the economic driver of a whole geographical area and it may also serve as sounding board for nations that are both in need and willing to become known and appreciated. This is, for instance, why many entities involved in tourist promotion have decided to exhibit their brands and colours during sports events as a way to enhance their visibility: Visit CatalunyaVisit Malaysia and Visit Rwanda on the sleeves of the Arsenal jerseys are just few of a multitude of examples we may call to mind.

Are all sports equal? Why choosing football or MotoGP instead of basketball?

Undeniably, all sports have one thing in common: passion. And passion can be used to pass on messages to an attentive and receptive audience in a positive manner. Being part of the event without breaking off the show is a great advantage.

Why motor sports and tourism then? The answer is simple: the audience is basically limitless and the world championships are on the road, which means that they visit extremely important markets every 15 days, thus offering businesses the opportunity to be an on-site protagonist for a whole week. Additionally, businesses have the chance of engaging the million fans who purchase their tickets to the race track.

These championships are one with the very idea of travelling as they are on the move in 4 different continents, nine months a year, every year, offering partners the opportunity to use one simple communication strategy all over the world. This travelling platform does not merely grant businesses visibility, but it also serves the purpose of implementing a number of PR or promotional activities in which the race is the pivoting element.

This is a great occasion for anyone interested in promoting tourism, as they can be directly involved in the organisation of the event and, at the same time, use tourism to appeal to millions of viewers through TV or on-site initiatives. Check the most common initiatives by a click on this link giving information on sponsorship activation.

Travelling also opens up the doors to other product categories, which are all potential partners of teams and championships in the motor sports sector. Airlines and luggage producers, money exchange and power banks for ever-present smartphones running out of battery are some peculiar examples we already addressed in a post published a few days ago which you can find here.

If you are curious to have more in-depth information on the opportunities offered by sports marketing, do not hesitate to contact use at the following email: info@rtrsports.com

The post Sports events and tourism: a successful marriage appeared first on RTRSports.

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We happen quite frequently to be contacted through this blog and our email address – info@rtrsports.com – for information on sports sponsorship agreements, such as “How do you write a sponsor agreement?“, “what are the key elements of a sponsorship contract?” and “Is there any sponsorship agreement facsimile we can use?”. These are some of the many questions that companies come up with when the time comes to draft a significant document such as a sponsorship agreement or sponsorship form. They are quite understandable: the agreement is not merely a significant milestone in a long journey, but it is a legal instrument under all aspects, which formally governs the relationship between the sponsor and the sponsee.

Key elements in a sponsorship agreement

Let’s start from stating that a sports sponsorship agreement consists, in most cases, of some fixed elements which may be summarised as follows:

  1. identification of the parties concerned;
  2. general terms and clauses;
  3. formal definitions and explanation of the terminology used in the document;
  4. obligations of the sponsored property;
  5. obligations of the sponsor;
  6. mutual obligations and products/services included in the sponsorship package;
  7. compensation;
  8. payment terms and methods;
  9. confidentiality clauses;
  10. term and validity of the agreement;
  11. breach of contractual rules and termination of the agreement;
  12. warranties, indemnities and force majeure;
  13. third-party rights;
  14. settlement of disputes and competent jurisdictions;
  15. final remarks;
  16. signatures and date.

As this list highlights, sponsorship agreements are complex documents which contain a lot of details. In their simplest form, these sponsorship forms consist of ten pages, but quite frequently they are much longer, including up to one hundred pages sometimes. The length, of course, depends on the extent of the agreement and the number of entities and actions involved in the transaction.

Mutual obligations and costs of a sponsorship agreement

With reference to the sample list above, sections 6 and 7, i.e. those pertaining to mutual obligations and the determination of costs, are the sections in the sponsorship agreement most densely populated with sports information.

What are the “mutual obligations” laid down in a sponsorship agreement? They are, under all aspects, the contents of the sponsorship project which the would-be sponsor will purchase pursuant to the agreement. In a nutshell, they are the benefits received when sponsoring a team and an athlete together with the rights and duties resulting for both parties.

The mutual obligation clauses in the agreement are used to define elements such as those listed below (without being limited to them):

  • athletes, teams/clubs (or parts thereof) and events (or parts thereof) involved in the sponsorship;
  • the full list of media on which the sponsor’s logo will be displayed;
  • the size of the sponsor’s logo on the various media, expressed in square centimetres;
  • the rights to use the sports image, name and reputation of a sports property;
  • the use of a showbike / showcar, where applicable;
  • participation of athletes or staff to the company events or exhibitions/trade shows;
  • ancillary and sponsorship-related services such as hospitality, production of audio/video materials, support during B2B and B2C activities;
Sponsorship agreement facsimile: resist the temptation of “do it yourself”

As stated at the beginning of this article, many people turn to us asking for a sponsorship agreement facsimile which they can edit and send to their customers for their sponsorship deals. Our recommendation – which is the reply we always give – is to at all costs refrain from using facsimile agreements.

As a general rule, we do believe that it is better in each and every case to have your sponsorship contract drafted by a competent attorney or a legal firm specialising in this matter. Of course, it more expensive than downloading a template from the Internet and editing it independently, but the benefits are many.

If, on the one hand, it is fair to say that each sponsorship deal is a different story, it is even more true so for sponsorship agreements which are specifically stipulated to rule the tiniest details of the understandings agreed by the two parties involved in the sponsorship. Once in the agreement, elements such as timing, money, the parties involved, details concerning visibility, and activations, if any, are sort of “frozen” in the pages and they will govern any future event. Whatever is not in the agreement has no value at all.

The benefits of an agreement properly drafted by a professional attorney get maximised as soon as things start taking an unplanned direction and the first problems arise – and this is not only true with sponsorships, I am afraid. Any document written professionally and signed knowingly by both parties thereto is a guarantee of a sound and long-lasting friendship without shocks and, what is more important, bad surprises.

Although, of course, the hope is that everything goes smooth, it is important to have your shoulders guarded against some potentially unpleasant situations which may be counter-productive for the sponsor and for the sponsored property as well. What may happen if, for instance, the club/team you are sponsoring is disqualified or the athlete wearing your logo has positive doping tests? Would the sponsorship continue or would it be terminated? Would the money you have paid be returned, either partially or totally, or not returned at all? Such cases, as well as many others, should be taken into account when drafting a sponsorship agreement in order to find an unambiguous solution for them to be clearly stated in the document.

Sponsorship agreements for MotoGP and support provided by RTR Sports Marketing

Sponsorship Agreements relating to MotoGP, and motor sports in general, are not different from conventional sports sponsorship agreements, in terms of both form and overall contents. Of course, each discipline has its own peculiarities, which the agreement should reflect. In the world motorcycling championship, for instance, correct application of logos on the motorbikes, uniforms, boxes, trucks, and so on, plays quite a central role. This is why each media intended to provide visibility is clearly defined in the agreement together with the dimension of each sponsor’s logo, which is specified in square centimetres. All such information is collected in the graphical annexes, which are an extremely important part of the agreement, in the form of drawings that visually support the contents of the agreement.

Another aspect worth considering is the athlete(s) concerned by the sponsorship, as the latter does not necessarily involve the entire team. Quite frequently, companies decide to have their logo on one rider, and not both, as the other rider in the team may already have one or multiple sponsors. In these cases, the sponsorship agreement will specifically indicate on paper which athletes are involved and it will explain whether the sponsorship also involves the rider’s staff and part of the box.

Last, but not least, the rules to govern bonuses connected to the sports results. The team and the rider may receive an extra bonus any time they win the podium and a significant monetary bonus if they become world champions. These are, of course, “positive risks” which bring about extra value for the sponsorship activity whenever such events occur. These risks may be mitigated by specific insurance policies which can be immediately entered in your budget, thus making it more solid. In practical terms, they are sort of safeguards that will enable you to still support the team/athlete like there is no tomorrow, as you will be aware that winning the championship and the subsequent benefits will not drain you.

Our agency, RTR Sports Marketing, has had its core business in MotoGP and motor sports sponsorships for the past 25 years now. If you feel like you need consultancy on sponsorship agreements or if you are looking for expert and competent legal advice in these disciplines helping you jotting down your first sports sponsorship form, do not hesitate to contact us at our email address: info@rtrsports.com.

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As we all know, sponsorship is vital when companies want to go big and attack the global market with coherent, bold, effective campaigns. If you’re a brand with an international outlook, it’s almost certain that you want to invest your marketing budget in an area that can reliably place you in front of a huge, passionate, captive audience. 

As you’re reading this, you’re probably some way to realising that the very best way to do this is through sponsorship and advertising in sport. Sponsoring important sporting events (think MotoGP, F1, or the Champions League) that have international audiences provides a huge increase in brand awareness, as well as increased sales.

Here, we’ll outline some of the key reasons why international sponsorship in sports is the best way forward if you want to connect with new fans and customers on a global scale – and keep them invested in your brand in the long-term.

The international nature of sports

More than any other entertainment medium, sports has the ability to transcend borders, leap language barriers, and ultimately bring people together on a global scale. No one watching a football match or a MotoGP race cares that they’re from a different culture or that they might speak a different language to the other fans beside them in the stadium or at the racing track – they’re invested in the feats of athleticism, the quality of driving, and the talent behind the kicking that is going on in front of them. This unifying quality is what brings people back to sports again and again, and why international sponsorship in sports is such a vital area for brands.

Think about the visual ways that sponsorship and advertising in sport manifests itself, too: logos, banners, billboards, side-hoardings, and multiple other eye-catching activations, all of which have the ability to be instantly recognisable to and ingratiate themselves into the minds of sports fans from every corner of the planet.

Multidisciplinary campaigns  

Social media and digital activations in international sponsorship in sports are now not only desired by fans, but expected. Luckily, this provides a great opportunity for brands – you can follow up with those who have attended your sponsor team’s matches, races or games, wherever they live in the world. You can connect via streaming and live video with their fans, even if they live hundreds (or thousands) of miles away from the billboards flashing your logo and the riders or footballers donning jerseys in your colours. You can measure exactly how effective your campaign has been, directly from HQ via emails, social media campaigns and  digital incentives.

In monetary terms, this means that your need for expensive outdoor marketing campaigns is lessened, because you can move this activity online. It means you can reach territories you wouldn’t have had access to before. And it means you can measure the effectiveness of your work far more easily.

Sponsorship and advertising in sport: which sports should I invest in?

There are numerous ways you could invest when you’re considering international sponsorship in sports, but we’d recommend two outlets: football sponsorship and MotoGP sponsorship.

Why do we recommend these two sports in particular? Well, football sponsorship is a bit of a no-brainer – massive global audiences, the ability to whip up fans and create passion on a monumental scale, and more money than we can easily comprehend. If you’re a multinational brand with deep pockets, football sponsorship is something you should be considering.

Similarly, MotoGP’s fans are incredibly passionate – and the sport brings a hugely international flavour too, with races in 19 countries on almost every continent and a global audience of millions. MotoGP sponsorship brings multiple opportunities, whether in sponsorship of bikes or jerseys, investment digitally, or, from a B2B perspective, within corporate hospitality.

To find out more about football sponsorship, MotoGP sponsorship, or sponsorship and advertising in sport in general, contact RTR Sports Marketing today.

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The post International sponsorships in sports: why sport is key when you’re going global appeared first on RTRSports.

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London is more than just a capital city – it’s also a centre for technology, creativity, digital leadership – and of course is also home to some of the world’s most successful and iconic sports teams.

From the creative agencies and international marketing companies of Soho to the innovative start-ups of East London Tech City, London has a long history of leading not just Europe, but the whole world when it comes to dynamism and progress. Tonnes of international sports marketing agencies already have headquarters in London, especially in Soho, alongside numerous creative, PR and communications agencies – all of which can work alongside your sports marketing agency to achieve great things.

Of course, London is also a sporting mecca – three of the four teams represented in this year’s European football finals (Arsenal vs Chelsea in the Europa League and Tottenham vs. Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League) hail from the capital.

Added to this is the open, international outlook that London has. It’s something that, because of the city’s global nature and the importance of this both to its own economy and that of the rest of the UK, is unlikely to change. People want to invest in London, because of its position as a leader both in Europe and the world.

Sports marketing London: a tech hub that’s looking to the future

So, what has this got to do with international sports marketing?

A lot, as it turns out. London is amongst the world’s capitals when it comes to sports marketing, due to the huge numbers of businesses based here, the creative and international outlook of the city, and its young, tech-savvy, ambitious population.

The UK has an important sporting tradition and, along with the USA, is the place where sports marketing was born and eventually began to grow up. Now, London’s innovation is driving international sports marketing forward, as the London-based Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign portraits.

Think also about the many AR and VR opportunities that are being presented by London’s dynamic tech start-ups, and how they might intersect with, influence and guide the sports sponsorship activations that you could develop if this technology was on your doorstep. Sports sponsorship agencies in London are already, and will continue to be, at the forefront of this innovation – and will be the first in the world to benefit from it.

What successes have sports sponsorship agencies in London had?

London sports marketing agencies are consistently working with huge brands – see Octagon’s work with Hotels.com x Tottenham Hotspur, Chivas Regal x Manchester United and WarChild for strong examples. Farringdon-based Mongoose’s Make Your Mark campaign launched England Cricket’s new kit alongside New Balance. WePlay works with the Betfred Super League, FC Barcelona, Chelsea FC and the PGA European Tour, amongst many others. CSM manages the partnership between HSBC and the World Rugby 7s tournament. Earnie worked on campaign identity for the 2017/18 NFL season. The list of London sports marketing agencies that are working on innovative campaigns goes on and on.

A word on MotoGP sponsorship…

Motorsport is our game here, so we couldn’t end without noting a recent win for Fifty Digital. The London agency has been named as the lead social and digital agency for Gulf Oil International, which includes the Aprilia Racing MotoGP team. It’s certainly a boon for an agency that was only founded in 2016. If that doesn’t prove our hypothesis that London sports sponsorship agencies can take on the world, we don’t know what does. 

If you want to discuss or find out more about international sports marketing, sports sponsorship agencies in London or UK sports marketing in general, contact RTR Sports Marketing today.

The post Why is London such a good place for a sports marketing agency? appeared first on RTRSports.

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If you’re a sports marketing fan, it’ll only take a quick browse of the internet to bump into a rather awkward question: “what are the advantages and disadvantages of sponsorship in sport?” In short, what sponsorship benefits can I expect from my sports marketing programme?

Luckily at RTR Sports Marketing we’re well-placed to advise on the matter, as well as the things that might not work out so well. Here are some of our initial thoughts….

Advantages and disadvantages of sponsorship in sport

We get that, if you’re trying to understand if sport sponsorship is the right path for you, you’ll want to know what the pros and the cons really are.

Before jumping into details, we recommend that if you have any doubts about the advantages of sponsorship in sport at all you get in touch with a sports marketing agency – they’ll be able to lead you through the processes that you’re likely to encounter, and answer any questions that you might have.

Advantages of sponsorship in sport and sponsorship benefits

Sports sponsorship is a lucrative, worldwide industry – so it makes sense that there are tonnes of benefits that you can reap when you delve into this arena.

Sports sponsorship truly is a 360° marketing tool, and can allow for content marketing, digital media, B2B programmes, PR, hospitality, and much more. The passion ignited by riders (in MotoGP), or by teams or athletes in other sports, can’t be rivalled – and often their audiences and fans have longstanding and deeply-rooted allegiances. If you can find a sports team or individual to sponsor that matches your brand’s ethos, you’re well on your way to seeing all the advantages of sponsorship in sport and sponsorship benefits come to fruition.

Sponsorship provides a strong increase in sales, better brand positioning, and a higher brand awareness. In short, the advantages are numerous – and all of these things can combine to achieve real ROI for your brand,

Disadvantages of sponsorship in sport

So, we’ve talked about the good things that can come of successful sports sponsorship campaigns and the numerous sponsorship benefits- but what about the disadvantages of sponsorship in sport? 

The reality is that as long as you do your homework, plan in advance, and activate your sponsorship plan the right way, there are very few downsides. You should be aware of your budget and what this will allow you to achieve, and that teams or riders/athletes might fare better one season to the next – something that shouldn’t necessarily cause you too much of a problem.

Are there any other disadvantages of sponsorship in sport? The answer is no, as long as the team or athlete you’re linked with does not get involved in scandals or disgraceful situations. We’ve covered this before: what if the athlete or team we sponsor is caught using performance-enhancing drugs? What if in the middle of a game or a race the behaviour of your team is disgraceful? Head over to our article here if you want to know more about how to handle it.

What sport should I use for my sponsorship campaign?

As experts on the advantages and disadvantages of sponsorship in sport, we can recommend the extremely lucrative world of MotoGP as a great place to start. MotoGP sponsorship means multiple races per year, hundreds of thousands of viewers, and an international reputation for high-quality racing. That’s before we even get onto the B2B, hospitality and digital activation opportunities that are available. Invest in MotoGP and you’ll be well-insulated from any of the problems that you might encounter elsewhere.

The benefits of working with a leading sports marketing agency

Since 1995 RTR Sports Marketing has been a leading sports marketing agency with a core business in MotoGP, one of the most effective sports to enter if you’re looking to invest in sports sponsorship.

If you’re unsure about your next steps, you may want to have a chat with one of our consultants.

If you want to talk more about what the ups and downs of sponsorship are, just give us a call – we’ll be waiting!

The post Advantages and disadvantages of sport sponsor appeared first on RTRSports.

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We are present only in our country: can we sponsor just the home Grand Prix? Yes, you can, becoming sponsor of the weekend and more!

MotoGP Sponsor of the weekend

You can partner with a MotoGP Team for a single race and become a sponsor of the weekend. It’s not a very common practice, but it can be done: some teams accept one shot agreements.

This kind of deals give the sponsors the chance to test firsthand the services of a team and often a fling can become a steady relationship. These operations are linked to a single Country, and they are not a novelty. Just look at the Regional Partner page for Manchester United to get an idea of what I am talking about www.manutd.com/en/Partners/Regional-Partners.aspx

Sometimes, companies need to limit their communication geographically, and this need can be satisfied with sponsorship.

Regional Sponsorship: how it works Non-exclusive Product Category and Territorial limitation

These sponsorship packages contain marketing rights that are limited to one or more nations and these rights are not granted exclusively. The sponsor can use said rights only in the territories nominated in the signed contract.

The advantage for the companies, when signing this kind of agreements, consists in the possibility of investing their communication budgets exactly where they want it to be spent.

For the teams the advantage is that they can explore deeply the commercial potential of a certain product category, selling but limiting territorially, the same rights to different Companies in different Nations. Obviously, the companies have to operate in their market and there could not be any overlapping, in few words they cannot be competitors.

By doing so, a team can serve more clients and can cash more money, than the amount that one can foresee for certain categories. At the same time, this way to operate gives to teams the opportunity to reduce the package’s prize, making it accessible to a larger number of potential clients.

Temporary Sponsorship deals Non Exclusive Product Category, Territorial limitation and exploitation Time

Sometimes you can add to product category and territory limitation a third limit linked to time. We are looking at a sponsorship package that it is valid for a single event, can be communicated in a single Nation and can be used for a limited period of time.

This sponsorship’s variation can be useful for those who, in a certain moment, needs huge visibility in a certain territory. Classic examples are the launch of a movie or of a video game that have seen more than once riders, teams and drivers used as a sounding board.

This flexibility can go as far as granting the title sponsor for a single race or for a summer tournament…You can, if you want, give the colours to a team in the home grand prix and be the absolute protagonist.

I attach some examples.

Batman and the Lotus  F1 Team

Marco Melandri and the Spiderman Livery Jorge Lorenzo and Call of Duty

Interested in Sponsorship? Time for a chat then!

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The post Can we sponsor just one race? Local, Regional and Temporary sponsorship deals appeared first on RTRSports.

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As a brand that wants to support sports and invest in teams or athletes, it’s important to know what your aims are – and whether you want to provide monetary support only, or be involved in the development and success of your sponsor in the longer term.

Of course, both strategies – donation and sponsorship – are worthy, and definitely have their place. Although both sports sponsorship and donation call for giving money to a third party in an effort to improve their performance, the two things are substantially different from a marketing point of view – or, they should be.

On the first hand, sponsorship involves the sponsoring company acquiring rights from a sports team, athlete, or event – i.e, the rights to use their name, images, video assets, visibility and often key players, in order to leverage awareness in order to reap marketing and commercial benefits. Sponsorship in sports is a strategic marketing tool, and a very effective one.

On the other hand, donation shouldn’t ever be used for marketing purposes. Although it may be utilised as a PR move, donation should be considered almost entirely in the realm of goodwill or charity – where companies, individuals or brands donate revenue to those individuals or organisations that they want to support. To expect anything marketing-wise to come as a result of a donation is not only unethical, but also likely to be illegal and could easily be classed as bribery.

The distinction, then, needs to be clear.

So, how can sponsorship and donation get mixed up when it comes to sports?

Without delving too deeply into the issue, at a surface level campaigns that have a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) angle could be seen to walk the line between charitable donation and long-term strategic sponsorship.

It should be made clear that this isn’t the case, however. Take a sports sponsorship campaign that sponsors a youth football team, for example. Sponsorship in this case could involve paying for the kit, helping with the costs of the stadium, or having your brand’s logo on the team’s newsletter or digital communications. As a sponsor, you have a strategic aim and are working with the team in order to provide support and get your branding in front of those that are invested in their success.

Making a donation to the said youth football team means offering charitable support, with no material gain expected for your brand and no investment in what the team does with the money you’ve donated. You cannot expect to influence future decisions made by the team after making a charitable donation.

Tax relief for charitable donations

 If you’re making a donation to a team or organisation that is registered as a charity, you are entitled to tax relief for the donation. These donations can be deducted from your company’s profits for the year in which the donation is made, meaning you may be liable to pay less corporation tax. More information on Corporate Gift Aid is available from the Charity Tax Group and Gov.uk.

Gov.uk sets out the difference between sponsorship and donation clearly: “Charity sponsorship payments are different from donations because your company gets something related to the business in return.” Sponsorship can still mean tax relief though, as long as the organisation you’re supporting is registered as a charity. In this case, you may be able to claim sponsorship payments as a business expense.

Sponsorship and donation in MotoGP

If you’re investing in MotoGP it’s more than likely that you’ll be spending your money on sponsorship, rather than donation – MotoGP is a corporate body that can provide mutual benefits for brands who want to work with its teams or drivers. If you want to get into MotoGP sponsorship (and we think you should!), look to the examples set by brands including Tissot, Michelin, DHL, Singha, Shell, Oakley and Red Bull. To find out more about MotoGP sponsorship see the link.

Want to learn more about sponsorships and donations in sport? Talk to RTR Sports Marketing today.

The post What is the difference between sponsorship and donation? appeared first on RTRSports.

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RTR Sports by Riccardo Tafà - 3w ago

There’s no question that Russia has been involving itself in the world of international sports for a long time. Before hosting last year’s Fifa World Cup, the Black Sea resort of Sochi held the 2014 Winter Olympics – and on a less prominent scale, the country has welcomed championships in everything from the canoeing to judo to the pentathlon in the past decade. This year, the world’s biggest country is playing host to the multi-sport Winter Universiade and the AIBA World Boxing Championships.

But what of the question of sports sponsorship in Russia? Is all this hosting of international athletes paying off in a business sense? And are Russian brands utilising it to boost their profiles internationally?

The answer is yes. Here, we’ve looked into how sports sponsorship in Russia – and by extension sponsorship campaigns deployed by Russian companies outside of it – is taking shape.

Sports sponsorship in Russia: what’s the context?

Like many emerging markets, Russia appears determined to make its mark on the world stage – in everything from its politics and its relationship with leading Western powers to, as we’ve mentioned, its heavy involvement in major sporting competitions. 

According to the Asia & Pacific Policy Society (APPS), Russia’s sponsorship within the sporting arena is an example of “soft-power statecraft” – and with Vladimir Putin keeping a close eye on what the rest of the world is doing (and how his nation could benefit from it) this is hardly surprising. APPS concludes that a poster released ahead of last year’s Fifa World Cup harked “back to communist-era Soviet Union, when the country was in its pomp and at the height of its global power. In other words, the poster’s inference is that Russia wants to be considered great again.” APPS also calls the Sochi Winter Olympics a “tangible, and ostentatious, manifestation of Russia’s desire to present a strong, positive image of itself to the world.” It seems that the unifying nature of sport makes it a perfect outlet for the Kremlin’s patriotic, globally-focused PR campaign.

Of course, it’s not alone in this. In terms of sponsorship Russia’s fellow emerging market China was heavily represented at last year’s World Cup, with property company the Wanda Group acting as an official Fifa partner and Hong Kong-based dairy company Mengniu, TV and whitegoods developer Hisense and Guangdong-based phone manufacturer Vivo all bringing prominent sponsorship campaigns.  Quoted by The Guardian, Salford University professor Simon Chadwick suggests that a surge in Asian sponsorship deals might have come as a result of many Western brands now seeing Fifa as “toxic” after its corruption scandal in 2015.

Meanwhile, Gulf countries are also determined to prove themselves as wealthy world-players in the same way – see Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 Fifa World Cup, for example, as well as Dubai-based Emirates’ long-time sponsorship of Arsenal FC, Real Madrid, AC Milan and Paris Saint Germain. Glenn Lovett, managing director at Nielsen Sports, believes that many Middle Eastern brands will do their best to capitalise on their region’s hosting of the world’s biggest football competition ahead of 2022.

Will Russia follow suit? With its apparent determination to promote its image both abroad and at home, it seems more than likely.

So, where is Russia investing in sports sponsorship?

Russia’s sports sponsorship campaigns overseas are wide-reaching, taking in everything from Central European football teams to gymnastics to F1. Here are a few examples of sports sponsorship campaigns from Russian brands that demonstrate their spending power, and the level of the competition they want to be involved in…

Gazprom and football

Who? A massive Russian gas company with close to half a million employees

Sponsorships: UEFA Champions League, 2018 FIFA World Cup, various European football clubs

Gas company Gazprom has sponsored UEFA Champions League since the 2012/13 season, and last year also sponsored the Fifa World Cup, after signing a deal in 2013 to become an official Fifa partner for all competitions between 2015 and 2018. Part of the company’s Champions League sponsorship includes raffling tickets to sports fans across the world, as well as more traditional sponsorship activations such as bespoke TV slots and digital pitch-side boards.

Aside from major football competitions, Gazprom has a long history of sponsoring individual clubs – German team FC Schalke since 2007 and Red Star Belgrade since 2010, the latter with hoardings, shirt sponsorships, and support of its youth teams.

VTB and motorsport; gymnastics

Who? A majority Russian state-owned bank

Sponsorships: F1 Russian Grand Prix, Georgia Gymnastics Federation

VTB became the first sponsor of the Georgia Gymnastics Federation in the run up to the 2015 Youth Olympics, following its previous involvement with rugby, football, basketball, waterpolo and auto-sports in the country.

In motorsport, in 2017 VTB signed up as Event Title Partner for the F1 Russian Grand Prix, in a campaign that’s still ongoing as of the 2019 F1 season. The F1 Russian Grand Prix is the biggest motorsport event in Russia, with millions across the globe tuning in to see who reigns victorious at the Sochi Autodrom.

Aeroflot and football

Who? A majority Russian state-owned airline

Sponsorships: Manchester United

Spring 2017 saw Russian airline Aeroflot renew their Manchester United sponsorship deal, first signed in 2013, for a further five years. The deal is said to be worth $40 million, and sees the airline provide “strategic advice” on travel to the top-flight English team. One of Aeroflot’s planes has even been decorated with the Manchester United branding.

Kaspersky and motorsport

Who? A Moscow-based multinational anti-virus and cybersecurity provider

Sponsorships: Scuderia Ferrari; Emirati racing driver Amna al Qubaisi, AKA “The Flying Girl”; Virgin Racing Formula E

Kaspersky has sponsored the the most successful racing team in the world, Scuderia Ferrari, since 2010 – the brand can currently be seen on the cars, across the drivers’ helmets, and on the pit crew’s overalls, and the relationship also takes in work on Scuderia Ferrari’s IT systems. According to Kaspersky themselves, the relationship between cybersecurity and motor-racing is a natural one – think high performance, sophistication, and great results.

Complimenting their partnership with Abu Dhabi Racing, Kaspersky is also a sponsor of racing driver Amna al Qubaisi, also known as “The Flying Girl” – the first Middle Eastern woman to take part in Formula E motorsport tests and the first Emirati woman to win a Senior Max Title. According to Maxim Frolov, the company’s managing director for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, Kaspersky is committed to helping young drivers from the UAE reach their potential in the long-term.

Sports sponsorship in Russia: supporting sport at home

It’s not just abroad that Russia is seeking to utilise the “soft power” that APPS identifies as such a strong driver of its sports sponsorship strategy. Many of the Russian brands that are sponsoring sports in the UK and elsewhere in Europe are also investing in sports sponsorship in Russia itself – there are numerous examples, including Gazprom’s sponsorship of Russian Champions League number one Zenit St Petersburg, Rostec’s sponsorship of All Russia Gymnastics, and Aeroflot’s involvement in a huge range of sports – including the Russian Football Union, the Russian Olympic and Paralympic committees, the Volleyball Federation of Russia, the Boxing Federation of Russia, and the Russian National Cycling Team… to name but a few.

Lukoil, too, has a massive roster of sports sponsorship initiatives at home – including ice-hockey, cross-country skiing, volleyball, water polo, the national Olympic team, and, in motorsports, the Lukoil Racing Team. As part of the company’s support for people in the far north of Russia, where a lot of their oil production takes place, Lukoil even funds the region’s largest festival – a snowmobile race in honour of Russian polar explorer Artur Chilingarov.

What do all these investments have in common? They all have a “striking domestic focus”, according to APPS – something that ties back to the nation’s need to exert its dominance on a world stage, and remind everyone watching of its powerful history. Gymnastics, ice-hockey and boxing are just some of the sports that Russia has excelled in traditionally, suggesting that the companies investing in them are very aware of, and determined to build on, their country’s culture, heritage, and international brand. As APPs points out whilst discussing ice hockey, this “soft power sponsorship serves a role in creating and transmitting Russian identity.

Sports sponsorship in Russia: what’s the future?

All eyes will be on Sochi one again this autumn, when the Russian F1 race takes place. It’s an event that is likely to have Russian brands vying for attention – but what of that other motorsport giant, the MotoGP? Are we ever likely to see Russia investing in the two-wheeled race?

The reality is that, for MotoGP specifically, it’s hard to say – although we are starting to see Russian brands investing in bike sports, with carbon filter manufacturer Umatex Rosatom signing on as sponsor of WorldSBK and WorldSSP team Kawasaki Puccetti Racing in December 2018. Russian auto-parts producers PATRON is now also a sponsor of June 2019’s MXGP of Russia.

Russia’s interest in bolstering its own heritage and strength is the most likely reason that its biggest companies would look to invest in MotoGP in the future. If Russian riders can reign in the coming years of MotoGP, we could very well see the nation paying more attention to sports sponsorship in this area – and for this, we can only look to Russian riders currently in the lower ranks of MotoGP. So, will the future careers of riders such as the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup’s Makar Yurchenko set Russia on a track to invest in MotoGP in the long-term? Only time will tell – but with Russia’s increasingly global outlook and interest both in sports sponsorship in Russia and outside of it, we’d do well to watch the careers of young Russian riders closely.

By Lucy Miller

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