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America’s Cup Sponsorship Needs to Focus on ROO

Despite the fact that NASCAR sponsorship began in the 1950’s and the series is one of the foremost commercial sporting entities in the world, some people are only now waking up to the fact that sponsors might want a return on investment (ROI), for their marketing spend. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for America’s Cup sponsorship, F1 sponsorship or NASCAR sponsorship – understanding what your sponsor wants is imperative.

Last week, Forbes reported that NASCAR team, Roush Fenway Racing was looking at trying a ‘new’ methodology for attracting and retaining sponsors. The innovative tactic?

“to sit down with potential sponsors and walk through a process of  setting a specific objective and then tailoring the sponsor activity to meet it.”

It has to be said that not all NASCAR teams are so late to the Return on Objective (ROO) mindset. Teams like Penske use sophisticated b2b business club techniques to deliver their sponsors added value over and above the visual display value provided by cars or athlete uniforms.

My article last week on about the impact of the withdrawal of one of the biggest teams from the next America’s Cup due to lack of sponsorship, highlights the differences between old and new sports marketing. The people who have ownership of brands and their marketing budget are getting smarter and the arguments about gross equivalent media value don’t work anymore.

There are many reasons why a brand might feel uneasy about America’s Cup sponsorship. The biggest is that the organisers have changed the product significantly and are publicly looking to attract a different, larger, but perhaps less desirable demographic. The new America’s Cup product looks great on paper, but it has a hint of ‘new Coke’ about it.

The fact that Forbes and Roush Fenway Racing are announcing in 2011 that thinking about sponsor’s objectives is a ‘new’ strategy, should remind people that even sporting franchises that appear to be on top of  the game are still learning sponsorship best practice.

Asking a potential sponsor about what they want to achieve should be a given. At Pilote, we take it for granted that every sponsorship proposal is bespoke – customised for the sponsor and what they want to achieve. Selling facebook likes is great, but irrelevant if the target is to get more footfall through a store.

Digital sports activation allows rights holder and sponsors more opportunity to deliver against objectives, but first you have to establish what they are. If your agency is still selling you eyeballs, then it’s time to find someone else.


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