In other cases it's simply too expensive, especially with the "major" leagues -- NBA, MLB, PGA Tour, NASCAR, and the NFL. For those properties, sponsorship and related activation can easily cost several million per year, with mandatory multiple-year commitments.
However, the proven, fundamental benefits of sports sponsorship remain. It's a compelling way to associate a brand with an affinity or lifestyle and leverage that relationship to connect with fans -- an opportunity to make connections through existing interests and affinities where they invest time, money, and passion.
Bank of America recently told Sports Business Journal that for every dollar it spends on sponsorships, $10 in revenue and $3 in net earnings are generated. FedEx spends over $25 million annually on the PGA Tour, NFL and auto racing, and sees multiple returns on its brand awareness, favorability, and overall investment. But, recently, fewer companies are willing, or able, to make the investment necessary for major sports properties.
Yet, there still are excellent opportunities and surprising value available to marketers. The time is right to take a closer look at emerging and traditionally second-tier sports. What constitutes an emerging or second-tier sport varies depending on who's selling, and who's buying. But for the sake of discussion, assume it includes such diverse properties such as Women's Professional Soccer, Mavericks Surf, Major League Lacrosse, the LPGA, and Minor League Baseball, among dozens of similar opportunities.
These properties have a compelling list of benefits, which are especially relevant and opportunistic in the current economic environment:
There are certainly tradeoffs to consider, including smaller fan bases and reduced media exposure. But we feel strongly that the benefits of emerging sports are substantial, and the potential ROI is huge. Personally, we're paying close attention to the LPGA and AVP professional volleyball tour -- both are great values with expanding media exposure.
There are literally dozens of properties that are worth a closer look, and the time is right to take advantage of these opportunities.