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Sponsorship Money – In all the wrong places!

by on November 21, 2013

Deep in thought!

Deep in thought!

Over the past few months I have seen how various Government departments and/or corporate companies spend vast amounts of money, but I have to put it out there, and this is my opinion, that it really is in the wrong places or with the wrong people. Yes, well done to those few who have managed to secure these sponsorships etc, but lets look at it a little more.  Nonetheless it is extremely frustrating to see this happening.

Media buyers at agencies – do they really understand the sports they are spending their clients money in? I doubt it, for the most part.  Corporates all rush off to Cricket, Rugby and Soccer where entry into these sports codes is generally minimum ZAR1 000 000. But this is for a lower tier sponsorship with very few rights at the end of the day. So the company has to actually spend a lot more over and above to gain the exposure from being associated with these brands.

Then you get a sports code like athletics / swimming / tennis where ZAR1 000 000 will probably buy you the top tier sponsorship. Yes I do agree that these sports codes get very little TV time, but when these companies are ploughing ZAR1M into soccer, cricket , rugby, they generally aren’t getting any TV time anyway! So why not look at spending the ZAR1M into one of the smaller sports codes where you will be the “king of the hill” in the sponsorship programme and will spend the same amount on leveraging, at the same time will do a HUGE amount more to the actual sports code at all levels.

One can maintain a professional running team with a development structure as well for a maximum spend of ZAR1.3 million per annum. This is a fact! I have done the numbers and am sure the likes of Maxed Elite team, John Hamlett will verify these numbers.

If I look at my set up : As running does not get much in the way of TV time we are extremely active on Social media – where we have stats that we can reach +-3 million people on social media streams alone.

We have done this as we must generate exposure and coverage for our athletes.  If I look at Comrades Marathon 2013, with my two athletes in the race, Claude Moshiywa (winner), Stephen Muzhingi (10th), we had a good build up to the race with various social media posts, TV, radio and print media interviews.

Having a commercial sponsorship and media background I can conservatively estimate that within the two weeks’ build up to Comrades race day we generated media coverage of +-ZAR 55 000 000. Then take into account the TV time on race day where Claude won and Stephen was 10th, I reckon this with these two athletes alone will be in the region of ZAR 20 000 000, and the post race with TV, Social media, radio, newspaper would be in the region of ZAR 25 000 000. The audience reach from pre race, race day and post race can be easily estimated at 400 000 000 people.  Let’s bear in mind here this is only using Comrades Marathon this year where I had 3 athletes participating. We race with our athletes from Kenya, Eritrea, South Africa and Zimbabwe in countries around the world – Asia, India, South Africa, USA and haven’t even taken these into account in the above numbers.

We go out to the corporate market to secure mere ZAR 1 000 000 sponsorship for the year and we simply get turned down. Note this is for a whole team of Elite Athletes and

one individual. The mind boggles as we easily generate over ZAR 100 000 000 exposure a year with NO spend required from leveraging from a corporate!

Ask yourself – these lower tier sponsors within Cricket, Rugby, Soccer spending R1M – do they get R100M return without spending on leveraging. – I reckon not.

So why is it that corporates are reluctant to spend on sponsoring athletes like Comrades 2013 Champion and multiple gold medalist Claude Moshiywa, 3 times Comrades Champion  and multiple Gold medalist  Stephen Muzhingi?  Yes these athletes have some sponsors, but these are sponsors really taking care of their product requirements, such as footwear and supplementation which is hugely appreciated. But like everyone else in the world these athletes too need to eat and this requires cash!

The bottom line is that how can one produce world champions when the athletes have to hold down a 8 to 5 job. But these guys do this, so imagine how good they can actually become if they were able to be full time professional athletes and only focus on training and racing!

Then you get the crazy spend in things like SA Sports Awards for ZAR 65 000 000 for a one night function! It just doesn’t gel or make sense! Maybe I am wrong and not seeing what everyone else is seeing but really it is frustrating to see huge amounts of money being spent in such ridiculous places that just doesn’t make sense.

Bruce Davidson has been involved in Tennis in SA and around the world, and other sports codes such as Netball and field Hockey in SA for a number of years. He has worked himself to a standstill but he had the vision to get involved and assists the smaller sporting codes and has done wonders with the likes of SPAR sponsoring these sports codes. If a company like SPAR can get returns and stay committed for a number of years with these sports codes – just goes to show that there is merit for corporate companies to get involved in the “lesser” sports codes as there is major value to be gained, where you will not just be a number in the commercial programme.

The smaller sporting codes will work harder and give that much more for a lot less cash. Wake up corporate SA and as the people in the Advertising world keep saying “Think out the box” well clearly they don’t take this literally!

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11 Comments
  1. Some of your numbers are a little baffling.

    ‘The audience reach from pre race, race day and post race can be easily estimated at 400 000 000 people.’

    Four hundred million? How do you get to that number?

    ‘ …and the post race with TV, Social media, radio, newspaper would be in the region of ZAR 25 000 000. ‘

    R25 Million on Comrades post race exposure? Have you consulted an agency to get these numbers?

    Dont agree with your article at all. Corporate’s get involved to get their brand as much exposure as possible, over a sustained period. How many running events are televised each year? You mention Comrades, what is the TV audience? What section of the population (read target market) watches the Comrades? You get a spike in coverage on the day, and for the week that follows, then it’s dead. Ask any South African on the street who won The Comrades this year, and the vast majority wont have a clue. Ask the same person who the captain of Bafana-Bafana or the Springboks are, and 7/10 will know. By sponsoring a small relatively unknown player /team or sport, they wont get the return on investment they’re looking for. Big corporates generally don’t sign sponsorship for R1 million or less, they sign large contracts, contracts that will give them big TV exposure. There’s a real reason why soccer, rugby and cricket in SA get big sponsorship deals – they provide the exposure the corporates want.

    The whole world is not doing it wrong…

    There’s a reason why the SA mens bowls team don’t have a sponsor, there’s no return on investment…

    It’s a no brainer really. I think your article is not written from an objective point of view. You’re writing because you would love to get a sponsor for a sport you’re involved in directly. Ask neutral marketing and brand experts, and they’ll give you the hard facts.

    • Thanks for your comment and I suppose each is entitled to their own opinion.

      As I stated in the post, its is a lack of TV coverage fro athletics is the reason that we have grown and area aggressive on the social media platforms which allows us to generate our own exposure for our athletes and or partners.

      I am extremely experienced at Commercial Sponsorship programmes as for a few years I was responsible for the Commercial and Licensing programmes of Kaizer Cheifs football club, as well as assisted with the licensing programmes of Orlando Pirates, SARU and SAFA. have a look at SA rugby commercial programme: They have many companies sponsoring them. How many get “Free” TV time? Only the couple that appear on the match day kit which you see on TV. The rest have to buy advertising space on TV, in Newspapers, magazines etc – just to say they are a sponsor of the springboks. So this is where I was going with the article. These companies pay millions in sponsorship but then still have to pay huge amounts to marker their association. So sir your comments about TV time are not really in the game here. Hence me saying that for a mere percentage in becoming a headline sponsor of a lesser exposed sport such as athletics, tennis etc, that the sponsor would still have to pay the same amount in advertising the association, but would not be caught up in the clutter of 10 or 15 other companies in that specific brands commercial sponsorship programme. Secondly by spending lesser money on sponsorship of a smaller sports code these funds would only be more effective for that specific sport in enabling them to uplift themselves to greater levels.

      If I address your queries on my numbers:

      Exposure: I arranged various interviews with as one example CCTV Africa and CCTV Asia where these interviews were broadcast through these regions prior and after comrades. This was a 7 minute segment. CCTV Africa has as viewership of 100M people. And lets face it – Asia audience as in CCTV China has numbers much greater than this. What do you estimate their rate card to be per 15 seconds if purchased as a straight advertisement. Well we had 7 minutes which was aired / broadcast at least once every hour for 2 days. It is almost impossible to but that type of TV time. We also did interviews locally pre and post comrades with all the main stream and smaller radio stations across southern Africa and Zimababwe. Additional TV interviews ETV, SABC channels.

      Lest look at race day – I will use Claude as an example as he won the race and is one of my athletes. What is the SABC rate card on race day per 15 second segment? Then look at how many hours claude appeared on TV as the cameras were following him. Take note that he pretty much led the race from Half way to the finish. Call it his total time on TV +-1H30 (which over the day would be probably closer to 2 hours of TV time) lets be conservative at 15 second slots at R20 000, this will be in the region of R9M on its own. Then take into account the photo of Claude winning on pretty much the front or back page of every newspaper in SA, as well as Video highlights on News Channels locally as well as SKY sports and CNN. And as we know CNN and Sky the pretty much do sport every 30mins or at least once an hour which would have been done over a 24 hour period.

      Then we look at social media – Search #claudemoshiywa on Twitter as one platform on that day. Just from one account we sent out +-250 tweets to over 17 000 followers on one account at a sponsored tweet rate of USD20.09 per tweet. Then there are all the retweets etc, as well as many many others sending tweets with mentions. And then look at all the other platforms that I haven’t even mentioned. The countless radio and newspaper interviews the few weeks after Comrades. So I would applaud you to do the additional research and go out and get all the rate cards and do the measurement and i can assure you that I will be as close as dammit to my numbers. If we had decent financial sponsors we probably could afford to pay monitoring companies to do this for us, but these two are questionable due to their methods of measuring. This is why in my post I gave approximate values based on my experience in the media and commercial fields.

      Your way of thinking is precisely what is wrong with the sponsorship activities in SA, think Rugby, Cricket, socccer – But in reality you will spend way more than you should on leveraging your own association with that brand.

      And finally YES, the post is there as a show to corporates that they need to change their thinking and their strategies and there is value in the sport of athletics for as fraction of the cost from the bigger sports codes. How many people watch local one day provincial cricket – Even on TV not at the stadium? Figures have declined dramatically. SARU will also tell you that TV audience for super rugby have declined significantly over the past few years. tri nations then included Argentina to prop up TV ratings as these too had declined in SA, NZ and Australia. Argentina and that area have big number so SANZAR wanted to up ratings so wanted to capture that audience.

      And Yes I do hope this post serves as a thinking point for companies to get involved in Athletics / road running in particular and yes I do hope this may solicit a sponsor or two for my athletes. As the post is to show what is available and what can be achieved for a company.

      So i do think your comments are a little one sided and i am offended by your attempt to make out like I dont know what i am talking about – because I actually have a decent amount of insight in what i do and on other sports codes. I have been in pro sport since 1999. (Cricket, soccer and rugby)

      But as i started my response – i did say each to their own opinion, but I do feel your comment was made as an uneducated comment or simply trying to discredit my post. I would suggest you read the post again and see where i am actually coming from.

  2. plustenner permalink

    Well said Craig! And a great answer too

  3. plustenner permalink

    Makes me so mad here in the UK where billions spent on football and little else 😦

  4. Alan permalink

    I came across this interesting article and you might have read it.This problem seems to be effecting the USA as well.See http://tonireavis.com/2013/09/07/running-solutions/#more-8102.
    Its frustrating to see how a sport as hard as what road running is that the athletes cannot get the rewards.Prize money has actually not improved since the 1980″s during the road running boom.Running has now become a participation sport hence the introduction of a 12 hour Comrades.
    Times are shocking to say the least especially at club level.Mediocrity/participation is now key.In 1992 when I ran 25min30 for a 8km ttrial I could not even get top15 now definitely top5.In 1990 Durban Ford marathon a sub 3 hr was position 474 in just a local race.I can go on and on.

    The introduction of mountain biking/trail running(don’t get me started on that one)/triathlons/.colour running etc etc is having an effect on road races and already cancellation of races are happening often.The average age of a Comrades runner is 40 because its hard and the youth are looking for an easier option.Hopefully things change

  5. Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you
    writing this article and the rest of the site is extremely good.

  6. Hi, good comment. I actually worked in Africa for 3 months back in 2012 under the IOC Training Centre in Zambia / Olympic Solidarity – They spent i think 12 million USD on building a training centre with international ‘class’ facilities. But without any coaching experitise, any service expertise, i see a great track rarely used (private schools using for competitions and not buidling up future champions), and wasting away to un-usable level of wear and tear (not maintained). Did any Olympic champions or the like come from such a program (12 million you would think so wouldn’t you?)…no. Kenya or Ethiopia produced more on dirt and with no facilities, coming to the fact, money doesn’t always get success.

    IOC did it for the media, publicity and to make people believe they are trying to help athletes in developing nations. But what an idiot, with a computer (he cant use) is still an idiot. Facilities are useless without the expertise. Imagine what the IOC could of acieved if they spent that much on a team of expert coaches, physio’s, ect… to work with athletes in poor nations in Africa?? As a physiotherapist i saw very high rate of injuries (compared to western programs), and the complete lack of any ‘specific’, planned long-term athletic development, strength or conditioning training, rehab, let alone scientific training methods. In my opinion, if they directed that money elsewhere, aka to the staff and expertise, their would be many more athletes achieved their full potentials, and the barriers of performance pushed ever so further.

    Good point . article.

  7. I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest
    but your blogs really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website
    to come back in the future. Cheers

  8. Do you mind iif I quote a few of your posts as long as I provide
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  9. Good post. I absolutely appreciate this site.
    Keep it up!

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