Corporate sponsors tend to be familiar with the sponsorship models of broadcasters, teams, stadiums and leagues. But governing bodies – international and national – can be a mystery to partners.
A governing body could be an International Federation (IF), National Olympic Committee (NOC) or a National Governing Body (NGB). Governing bodies have many of the same traditional assets such as media, digital content, intellectual property and events, however they have an overlooked asset in membership. This membership element brings added loyalty, and value, to a partnership.
A season ticket holder is invested in the fate of the team on the field of play. A member is invested in the roots of the sport itself. Reaching a sport’s membership takes a dedicated approach and can be tougher to mine, however when done right, this sponsorship strategy can hit a loyal and avid supporter of a sport.
If using global or national media is the “air game” then taping governing bodies is the “ground game” of sponsorship. Below are some insights into the valuable qualities of a governing body partnerships:
Family Lifestyle – governing bodies connect directly with a family-focused lifestyle of the sport. The sport is driven by family participation and experiences.
Grassroots – most sports have a youth element which results in weekend matches, meets and events for the family. These loyal members are the keys to purchasing mobile phone service, booking hotel nights and buying sports equipment.
NOC + NGB Combo – these two properties can complement each other in a national market and provide a mix of national brand affinity and local activation. The NOC may have a stronger brand, meanwhile the NGB offers direct access to purchasers. We call this “grassroots to gold” strategy.
Olympic Extension – in many countries, the NGB can provide the same feeling of national association without even using the term “Olympic” and the inherent restrictions that come with it.
Greater Good – grassroots sports, especially in the Olympic space, trend high in positive attributes such as inspiration, patriotism, dedication, responsibility, confidence, trustworthiness, relatability, approachability and authenticity, according to U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee research.
Niche (aka Targeted) – the niche market of governing bodies is a strength, especially when the demographics align with a sponsor’s needs. Niche used to mean small, but in practice it is more targeted.
Investment – athletes and families have paid a membership into that organization so have a greater affinity and connection, especially in the case of an NGB. This results in loyalty from a sponsorship perspective as well.
Customization – many governing bodies can be inherently more flexible and open to creative integrations into the sport for sponsorship.
Defense – while governing bodies don’t like the concept of a sponsor doing a defensive buy, it is a reality. This is especially true when a partner has a global or national sponsorship to leverage and it can’t afford to jeopardize market confusion with a high-profile governing body in that territory.
For a corporate sponsor, the governing body space can be confusing and even intimidating to enter, however taking the time to learn the space can be extremely rewarding.
Contact Farrell Sports Worldwide for an introductory conversation about how your brand can activate a “grassroots to gold” strategy in the governing body space.