From corn chips to caravans, sports sponsorship isn’t just for fitness brands

public holiday

Source: AAP Image/Julian Smith.

Television might be dead, but not when it comes to sport – and the audiences available to advertisers through sponsorship mean that brands align in ways you might not expect.

A 2015 report into international sports from PwC put the value of the market at $145.3 billion. Nineteen percent of revenue came from the Asia Pacific region, which is also one of the fastest growing sectors when it comes to sponsorship and media rights.

Australian brands put great stock in the associations they form with sporting teams – take the recent announcements from retailers like Harris Scarfe after deals were struck with teams for the inaugural AFL women’s league next year. At the time, experts explained to SmartCompany the value of an early stage, grass roots partnership with a club because of the ability to engage with customers on a weekly basis.

This weekend’s National Rugby League and Australian Football League grand finals proved it’s not only sporting brands that want in on the action. Here are three product types that feature regularly as sponsors that you might not expect to see on the sporting field.

Financial services and building

Last night’s NRL grand final saw superannuation funds and investment opportunities flash up enthusiastically in the gaps between play – and if you missed those, audiences could be reminded of the brands just by looking at the backs of their favourite players. The Cronulla Sharks promoted a partnership with property developers Capital Bluestone, as well as investment group Infinity.

Meanwhile, the superannuation fund Hostplus secured a place on the back of Melbourne Storm players.

Banks and investment groups pop up regularly across Australian sporting competitions; ANZ has been the named partner of Netball Australia over the past couple of years, using that position to promote a brand name while also running clinics for young players and their families.

Insurer QBE paid for top billing as partner of the Sydney Football Club for 2016, while Hawthorn lists brokers Interisk as a 2016 supporter.


Snack food seems like a no-brainer for sports marketing, but the 2016 AFL season has thrown up some interesting ways of leveraging it.

Melbourne corn chip and wrap producer Mission Foods is a sponsor of AFL premiers Western Bulldogs and the brand generated hundreds of shares on social media in the lead up to the Grand Final.

The brand, which has sponsored the club for the past seven years, also received coverage for its products through sponsorship of the live viewing site at Whitten Oval, where punters thanked the brand for free snacks on the day.

Most Australian sporting teams have some kind of snack food involved as a sponsor. St Kilda Football Club’s lead partner is iced coffee producers Dare, while the Cronulla Sharks have brands like McDonald’s and Solo on board.

Last night’s coverage of the NRL grand final was even tied to KFC, with pop-ups for chicken accompanying crucial video umpire review decisions.

Blinds, carpet and more

Elite sport might not conjure images of skirting boards and tiles, but the space for promoting interiors and DIY project brands are also big business in Australian sport.

The Sydney Swans boast blinds and awnings provider Wynstan as a supporter, while Melbourne Demons have Haymes paint on board, as well as New Age Caravans.

Many of the names in the hardware space don’t go beyond advertising at grounds, but they do follow on from the big TV ad spend that operators like Bunnings put into the broadcast of AFL games. Then there’s integrating the brand into the sports coverage itself – as Home Timber and Hardware did years ago with Before the Game’s “Tool of the Week” segment, highlighting the lighter side of the AFL week.

As PwC highlights, the shift in sports marketing over the last decade has involved brands chasing a deeper emotional connection with fans. As ad revenues from elsewhere dwindle, the task becomes “gaining deeper and more emotional engagement with fans and staff”, according to this report. For the Australian landscape this doesn’t mean matching a health conscious or sporting brand to a team – companies that deal with the everyday of people’s lives often sign up for coverage.

And if victory comes along, there’s an opportunity to reach thousands.


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