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  • Georgie Maynard

Why Emotional Connection holds the key to sponsorship success

The BenchMark 2018 Report, launched in November, discovered that emotional connection is a critical component to ensure sponsorship success. The stronger the emotional connection to a sports team, the more likely an individual is to connect to the team’s sponsors.

BBut let's first take a step back and understand why emotions matter. The premise is that sport is emotional, you cannot simply look at outcome based measures like attendance, ratings and membership and understand how the sports fans think and how they will act next. Emotions matter because they drive outcomes, affect long term advancement and protect a property when in crisis.

If you think of the reasons why you personally follow a team, there will be a number of reasons but your connection to a team, at its heart, will be bound in some core emotional values of respect, enjoyment, trust, pride and the bond that has developed between you and that team over time. The stronger that connection the more likely you are to pay to watch them on TV, go to a game, buy merchandise AND be aware of, and engage with, a team's sponsors.

And that’s the crux of it: emotional connection drives $ driven behaviours. BenchMark proves this link: the stronger the emotional connection to a team (i.e. a strong BenchMark EC Score™), the more likely an individual is to connect to the team’s sponsors:

The next step for a rights holder is therefore developing a stronger emotional connection between fans and its team(s). To do this BenchMark uncovers the drivers of emotional connection to an individual team or league. Sponsors also benefit by understanding the aspects to leverage in their activations, to more successful engage the audience with their brand and drive the desired behaviours and outcomes.

BenchMark helps sponsors looking for their next sponsorship opportunity, by identifying sports properties with the best brand fit, that will also deliver strong behavioural outcomes.

The 2018 study uncovered that some of the most recognized sports sponsorships in Australia are driven by longevity and a good brand fit e.g. Qantas Wallabies, Geelong Cats and Ford, St George and the Dragons. However, high awareness ≠ good sponsorship outcomes (although it can help with the overall impact). For a successful campaign sponsors often require more than just an increase in awareness. Sponsors want to see a positive reaction to their brand, be it positive sentiment, increased consideration, first time usage or more frequent usage.

Investing more financially in a sponsorship or picking the best known teams aren’t always the best way to maximise these sponsorship outcomes. Yet this is the current status quo, as many sports sponsors buy purely on eyeballs when they should be looking at the quality of the connection.

So how can sponsors get a good ROI? In terms of value for money, brands can expect to see strong return on investment from teams with a higher emotional connection. By partnering with lesser known teams but those with a strong BenchMark EC score™, Sponsors can reap rewards quickly, Woolworths’ sponsorship of Super Netball teams is one such example.

If you factor in the cost of sponsorship, and despite their lower familiarity amongst the public, women’s teams represent great value for money because of the strong emotional connection the public has with these teams and the knock on effect this has on the teams’ sponsors.

We help sponsors find the sweet spot: high sponsor awareness coupled with a strong emotional connection to the team. Whilst Qantas has been very successful at finding this sweet spot, and dominates the BenchMark Sponsor Impact Ladder, you don’t need to spend big bucks to have an impact. Take for example QBE’s sponsorship of the NSW Swifts or Alcohol. Think Again’s sponsorship of West Coast Eagles, both offering strong return on investment at a fraction of the price, as the table below explains:

What do these findings mean for sponsors? Well, given our findings, sponsors should be thinking about a repertoire of teams. With the huge variance in the cost of sponsorships, a more effective outcome can be acquired by having a number of smaller more effective sponsorships.

To find out more download our report or get in touch.

About the 2018 BenchMark Report

The BenchMark Report was developed to fill a gap in the information being provided to Rights Holders and Sponsors. We have spoken to many Rights Holders and Sponsors and we know they need more quality and depth from sports research to be able to make valuable business decisions based on credible insights.

The 2018 BenchMark report evaluated 62 teams including 15 national sides, ALF, NRL, Super Netball and Rugby Union teams. Teams were evaluated on over 60 attributes. Individual team and league reports are available to purchase.

The research was conducted by True North Research as an online survey between 10-31st October 2018. A sample size of n=4299 Australian residents aged 16+. Respondents must be at least ‘somewhat familiar’ with the team being rated. Emotional Connection is a combination of pride, trust, enjoyment, respect and bond.

Georgie Maynard, Director True North Research

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