Organizations of all sizes invest heavily in sports sponsorships to increase their brand exposure and association with a specific sport. The world of sports sponsorship is constantly evolving, and it is no surprise that many individuals are interested in understanding this dynamic field.

Whether you aspire to work in sports marketing, brand management or business development, gaining a deeper understanding of sports sponsorships can be an asset to your career. Pursuing a Master of Science (M.S.) in Sport Management is one a clear and beneficial way to build your skills in the sports marketing, management and sponsorship industry.

What Are Sports Sponsorships?

While sports sponsorship shares similarities with advertising, it differs in that it does not aim to directly persuade customers to make purchases through specific product or company messages. Instead, sponsorship involves supporting a sport and the various components that a company’s customers value. By investing in these areas, a company becomes associated with the sport over time, creating a positive brand image among fans, attendees, customers and media. This ultimately creates financial gains for the company and reputation gains for players and teams.

4 Basic Types of Sports Sponsorships

Organizations choosing to get involved in sports sponsorships have four primary options, according to one 4psquare article:

  1. Athlete Sponsorship: The sponsor typically pays a fee in exchange for the right to have their brand associated with the athlete, who will wear the sponsor’s logo on their uniform, use the sponsor’s products and appear in advertising and marketing campaigns. Nike has built its brand with heavy investments in athletes, including Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Cristiano Ronaldo.
  2. Team Sponsorship: This involves sponsoring a professional, amateur or collegiate team. The sponsor pays a fee for the right to prominently display their brand on team uniforms, equipment and in advertising and marketing campaigns. Ineos is a British chemical company that has become heavily involved in sponsoring the Ineos Grenadiers, a cycling team that has won several Tour de France titles.
  3. Event Sponsorship: According to 4psquare, event sponsorship involves sponsoring a specific sports event, such as a tournament or championship game. The sponsor typically pays a fee in exchange for the right to have their brand prominently displayed at the event, in advertising and marketing campaigns, and media coverage. Red Bull is a company that built its brand heavily on sponsoring extreme sports, while Visa has done the same with its sponsorships of many Olympic Games.
  4. Venue Sponsorship: Venue sponsorship involves sponsoring a specific sports venue, such as a stadium or arena. The sponsor typically pays a fee in exchange for the right to have their brand prominently displayed throughout the venue, in advertising and marketing campaigns and media coverage. American Airlines invests heavily in venue sponsorship with the American Airlines Center (home of the Dallas Mavericks) and the American Airlines Arena (home of the Miami Heat).

Benefits of Sponsoring Sports Teams, Events and Facilities

According to a article, sponsorship is a highly effective marketing tool that enables companies to increase media exposure, enhance brand awareness, improve market positioning and ultimately boost sales.

  • Reach new and targeted markets: In contrast to traditional media ads, which reach a broad range of people, sponsorships provide a cost-effective means to reach specific consumer groups. In-kind product sponsorships, in particular, are an excellent alternative to conventional advertising methods because they are highly relevant to the sport. For example, Gatorade is heavily invested in sponsoring professional sports teams, which drives sales of the product to amateur athletes and teams.
  • Engage consumers: Sponsorship enables brands to shape consumer attitudes, create positive feelings about a brand and foster goodwill in relationships with customers, the community and investors. For example, some watch brands are the official timekeeper of Wimbledon. These partnerships allow on-court advertising and limited-edition watches that commemorate the tournament. Fans can register at their booths and get sponsored tennis news as well as first access to related new product releases. These interactions lead to strong brand recognition via word-of-mouth and social media promotion within fans’ personal networks.
  • Generate new leads: As notes, by leveraging the prestige of a sports entity, companies can promote their offerings to potential customers. Having knowledgeable representatives on hand at an event to interact with attendees and provide them with a means to sign up for updates is a proven means of generating leads. Offering a complimentary product or service in exchange for contact information can enhance this lead generation strategy. For example, a bank sponsoring a cycling team may give away water bottles and cycling jerseys to fans who sign up for a checking account.
  • Enhance business, consumer and VIP relationships: Sponsorship often comes with unique benefits such as access to exclusive networking settings, VIP receptions or outings with high-profile individuals in the industry. Businesses can leverage these opportunities to connect with key customers and strengthen their professional relationships, particularly by planning an effective follow-up after the event. For example, AT&T’s sponsorship of the Dallas Cowboys may provide them with access to players and cheerleaders who can appear at corporate events.
  • Attract media attention: Sporting events are broadcast on television, radio and online and often include sponsors’ names in their media coverage. This is particularly true if a sponsor’s logo is tied to the event or venue’s name, such as the Mutua Madrid Open professional tennis tournament or FedEx Field, home of the Washington Commanders. The resulting positive publicity can significantly increase the visibility of a business’s products and services, particularly if the business has a media plan in place to capitalize on the exposure.

How an Advanced Degree Can Propel Your Career

As part of the core curriculum in the UWP M.S. in Sport Management online program, the Revenue Generation and Sales in Sports Organizations course examines revenue generation and sales processes for sports organizations, including the revenue streams available through developing buyer proposals and learning contract negotiation processes for agreements. It includes case studies, projects, presentations and hands-on negotiation exercises.

If you would like to grow your career in the dynamic field of sports marketing and the opportunities that sponsorships in sports can provide, this program can provide a clear path to victory in leadership and management roles in the field.

Learn more about the University of Wisconsin Parkside’s online Master of Science in Sport Management program.