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Four insights on sponsorship ROI ahead of the World Cup final

December 15, 2022


Mark Wilson, Vice President, Analytic Partners

 

As fans from around the world prepare for the World Cup final on Sunday, the football tournament’s many sponsors will be reflecting on their sponsorship investments during this global showcase.

 

Long after the teams have left Qatar, brands will be assessing the impact of their sponsorships and considering how to fine-tune their spends for the next major sporting events, whether that’s the SuperBowl in February 2023 or the Paris Olympics in 2024. The sums involved can be huge:  at $1.3bn, sponsorship makes up 29% of FIFA’s total 2022 World Cup budget, second only to TV rights and well ahead of licensing rights or ticket sales.

 

Here’s our four-point guide for brands to help maximize their sponsorship success, based on our ROI Genome.

 

Step one – Activate, activate, activate

 

Sponsorship isn’t just about making sure your logo is on show. In fact, simply increasing your visibility without doing anything else, could end up being an expensive waste of time. Activating your sponsorship activity means making sure that consumers can interact with your brand in meaningful ways, across multiple channels.

 

This could be via fun gamification challenges on a dedicated website or app, limited-edition products tied to the event, or ensuring your POS merchandising is reinforcing your sponsorship status. Iconic Indian dairy brand Amul has positioned milk as the “OG energy drink” and declared the brand as the regional sponsor for the two of the best-known teams - Argentina and Portugal.

 

On its social media channels, Amul has been posting quizzes, polls, and opinion-based posts to engage with its audience.  Our research shows that activation spending has the potential to boost ROI threefold.

 

Step two – when it comes to sponsorship, focus on maximizing reach for your target

 

Investing in sponsorship at a World Cup-size event is unlikely to be the solution for every brand. But no matter if you’re more Little League than global sporting tournament, the ultimate goal of sponsorship is to increase the reach for your brand awareness.

 

For some brands, a global presence or recognition is not the aim: theirs might be hyper-local, regional or related to a specific continent.  Whatever ‘big’ means for your target market, aiming for the largest possible sponsorship events means more scalable opportunities for interaction with the greatest possible number of customers.

 

Step three – the ‘known unknown’ benefits that impact long-term results

 

 

 

 

Before making any sponsorship investments, brands will forecast the likely impact of their activities.  While never guaranteed, ROI can be predicted within a certain range, including the possibility of something not going to plan.

 

However, a video or campaign that goes viral, the multiplier effect from one standout player and other unanticipated residual benefits might significantly impact sales in unanticipated ways. Sponsorship ROI typically has a ‘long tail’, where the long term impact can outweigh any short term performance by a factor of five, according to our research.

 

This works both ways. Many sponsors, including Coca Cola and Adidas have decided that association with the event is worth the risks of being associated with Qatar’s record on rights for women, migrant workers and LGBT+ people. Yet major 2018 sponsors including Continental Tires, Johnson & Johnson and Sony ended their involvement with FIFA because of the scandal surrounding the awarding of Russia and Qatar with the next two World Cup tournaments.

 

Step four...use planning and modelling to prioritize higher ROI investments

 

Sounds like a no-brainer, but do you have the tools at hand to identify where your return is highest? When a brand can get really granular in its decision-making, its ability to select the best tools and channels to maximize ROI is enhanced. Pitch-side signage or branded water bottles? Billboards or TV ads? What ratio, across which channels, is right for your brand? The right data and analytics tools including our GPS Enterprise platform will give you the information you need to make a truly informed decision. And it all starts with planning – from scenario planning to hypothesis testing, wargaming to detailed optimization.

 

Knowing where customers are actually engaging with your brand, choosing the most effective channels and executing your investments based on data: the winning combination to make the most effective sponsorship decisions. No matter who lifts the trophy on Sunday, the brands that can achieve that will be winners not only in Qatar but at every stage of the customer journey.