The Benefit Of Long-Standing Sports Sponsorship Deals

November 16, 2018


Last week we looked at some of the longest-standing football sponsorship deals and the benefits the brands received from these. Now we’re taking a look at some other sports related sponsorship deals that have stood the test of time…

Wimbledon – Slazenger, Robinsons

Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and has been running since 1877 - it is perhaps this longevity that has attracted its partners. Slazenger has provided tennis balls to the tournament since 1902 making it the longest running sponsorship in sports history. Wimbledon is also known for its partnership with Robinsons - which has been running since 1935.

The tournament is watched by millions of viewers across the globe and provides brands with the opportunity to get in front of a world-wide audience.

Every summer during Wimbledon, Robinsons runs tennis-related competitions and in 2015, when Robinsons celebrated its 80th year of sponsorship with Wimbledon, it pushed TV, outdoor, print, and social media competitions.

Kevin McNair, Marketing Director for Robinsons, said: "The summer is a very important time – obviously Robinsons can be quite a seasonal product and therefore it really kickstarts our summer programme. If we get those light medium buyers in at the start of the summer, then we know that they create a habit and they drink more. Wimbledon gives us the opportunity to get the feature and display we need with our retailers to get consumers to buy our product."

Last year, Robinsons used the Wimbledon partnership to launch its latest product, Refresh'd, with McNair adding: "Previous campaigns have worked really well – we generate a huge sales uplift if we can get the activity away, along with the great weather in the summer – then thats perfect. So our best ever year was probably in 2015, where we saw double digit sales uplift as a result of the activity."

The brand also uses the partnership to offer consumers the chance to win VIP passes to the event.

Formula One - Heineken

Although it may not be a long-standing deal, it’s worth noting the benefits of the partnership between Heineken and Formula One. It may have taken almost two years of negotiations between the Dutch beer company and racing brand, but in 2016 a deal was signed that secured Heineken the rights to become Formula One’s Global Beer Partner.  

Formula One reported an increase in revenue in advertising and sponsorship that year which was mainly driven by the Heineken contract. The brand also found the partnership valuable in its attempt to crack the US market and Asia Pacific – a key region for the brand and synergising with the number of Formula One events within the region.

Heineken benefitted substantially from the deal – with sponsorship revenue worth an estimated £12.6 million to the brand. It must have been worth the two year wait!

The Olympic Games – McDonalds, Coca-Cola

The Olympic Games offers sponsors a worldwide audience of over 3.5 billion. Its three core values - friendship, respect and excellence - are attractive qualities for a number of brands to align with.

Fast food chain McDonald’s first became involved with the Games in 1968 and signed as the Olympics’ food retail sponsor in 1976. McDonald’s deal in place with the games was scheduled to run until the 2020 Toyko Olympics, however, it announced in 2017 that it would end the deal three years early, grinding a halt to the 41-year long relationship. Timmo Lumme, Managing Director of IOC Television and Marketing Services said in a statement, “in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, we understand that McDonald’s is looking to focus on different business priorities”.

McDonald’s was part of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) top sponsors program and reportedly contributed more that $100 million in every four-year cycle for the Games. In a bid to save money and shift its focus to improving food quality and enticing customers back to them, McDonald’s decided to end the deal early.

McDonald's Global Chief Marketing Officer, Silvia Lagnado, said: "As part of our global growth plan, we are reconsidering all aspects of our business and have made this decision in cooperation with the IOC to focus on different priorities."

The fast food giant continued as a sponsor at the 2018 Pyeongchang winter Olympics as sponsors with domestic marketing rights.

In 2010, then McDonald's chief for Northern Europe, Steve Easterbrook, said the brand doesn’t sponsor the Games to seek brand awareness, or is it seeking to increases revenues from the deal. Instead it’s about connecting with franchise owners and staff and get involved with sport at a community level.

Only Coca-Cola, which has been a sponsor since 1928, and Omega, a sponsor since 1932, have a longer association with the Olympics than McDonald’s. A report from 2012 revealed that research found that food and drink sponsors benefitted most out of their partners, with nearly half of the people surveyed knowing McDonald’s and Coca-Cola were partners.

Coca-Cola is the longest continuous sponsor of the Olympic Games and its role as Worldwide Partner runs through to 2020. Throughout the partnership, Coca-Cola has found innovative ways to make the most of the deal beyond just selling their drinks within sporting venues.

In 1956, it ran newspaper ads giving people the chance to win a trip to the first Olympic Games in the Southern Hemisphere which took place in Melbourne. When the Games were held in Toyko in 1964, it produced street signs, maps, sightseeing information and an indispensable Japanese-English phrase book which were so popular that the concept was replicated at other Games.

When the Games came to the United States in 1984, Coca-Cola created a series of programmes to get underprivileged young people from all over the USA into ‘the spirit of the Games’. The brand got involved with the Olympic Torch Relay in 1992, creating commemorative cans in 2008, and when it was on home turf in Atlanta in 1996 it enhanced the fan experience with a 12-acre Coca-Cola Olympic City theme park - featuring around 20 attractions and special events, including an amphitheatre for live entertainment.

James Williams, then Olympic marketing and assets director at The Coca-Cola Co, said: “We always look to align ourselves with the events that mean the most to our consumers, and the Olympic Games is one that resonates globally.

The Olympic Games therefore provides us with opportunities to connect with consumers at both the retail level, as well as through more personal connections via consumer events and special promotions.”

Coca-Cola hasn’t just stopped at partnering with the Games, the brand has been involved with stock car racing for more than 50 years and has been the Official Sparkling Beverage of NASCAR since 1998. It has also been a marketing partner with the National Basketball Association (NBA) since 1986.

These are just some of the many long-standing sponsorship deals in sports, there are many, many more. Next week we’ll be looking at some of the iconic celebrity endorsements. You can keep up to date with ECHO on our website, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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