Digital, Sponsorship | Jun 6, 2014
Bringing sponsorships to life through creative activation

Technology and telecommunications companies have increasingly used sport to leverage their products and services, but the future of such collaborations should focus on opportunities surrounding data.

Henning Stiegenroth, the Senior Vice-President of Sports Marketing at Deutsche Telekom, as well as Microsoft Windows Marketing Director John Dougherty, both represent companies that have linked up with sport to drive interest.

According to Dougherty, whose company has a broad partnership with Major League Soccer (MLS) in North America, sport is the ideal touch point for a brand like Microsoft Windows.

The company hands out devices through brand representatives standing outside MLS stadia. Fans are given eight minutes to test out the technology and, if they opt in, are contacted by Microsoft Windows for a follow-up survey that could lead to interested friends and family members being approached too.

“We’re in sports sponsorship because it’s a great opportunity to show what we can do by enhancing the fan experience,” Dougherty said.

“Sport represents a very high return for us from organic marketing. We use football because it speaks to the heart and not just the eyes like a lot of marketing.

“That sort of personal engagement at MLS games really drives our scorecard metrics.

“When we sat down with MLS to see how we could work together, it was clear that they wanted to become the smartest league in the world.

“There are lots of opportunities now to give the fan better experiences, and the technology has changed radically. MLS is a partner that can take full advantage.”

For Stiegenroth, Deutsche Telekom’s most famous sponsorship deal, with Bundesliga football club Bayern Munich, has coincided with the company adapting to 21st century opportunities.

“We are a ‘telco’, but the company has changed over recent years and we have established broadcast platforms,” he said.
“We now have our Entertain IPTV platform, for example.

“In terms of sponsorship, we have been partners of Bayern since 2002 and we have another four years to go with them.

“The attraction of having our logo on their shirts is still very high and I don’t expect the value of that to change.

“However, there are lots of components to the partnership, and it’s not just about branding; it’s a business relationship, and they use our products in their stadium.”

Dougherty spoke about the changing structures of sport sponsorships by adding: “I worked at Yahoo during the 2006 Fifa World Cup in Germany and we built a ‘fancast hub’ at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, and it generated a lot of content from fans posting their pictures.

“Really it was the first time that a sports property had fully leveraged user-generated content, but nowadays people are doing these things every day on their phone.

“The big trend that we’re seeing now is data. There is a big opportunity to use data to enhance the fan experience and bring sports to life.

“Second screens can provide deeper data and also interactivity from content generated by fans.”

To develop his viewpoint, Dougherty spoke about the proliferation of a major new media platform every decade.

“There is a technology grows tenfold every decade,” he added. “The number of computers worldwide grew from one million in the 1970s to 10 million in the 1980s, and we’re on course to have 10 billion smart devices worldwide by the end of this decade.

“Part of the reason for that is that devices are becoming smaller and have longer battery life, but there is also wearable technology now.

“In sponsorship it’s critical to identify what sort of data is needed to structure a deal. The aim is to turn data into something useful, and long-term partnerships have to have a plan about how they are going to leverage that data.”

Stiegenroth concluded by saying that bottom-line results would remain an important evaluator in assessing sponsorships.

“We measure media and brand exposure like everyone else, as well as image in relation to a sponsor, but that is not enough,” he said.

“It is really important to know if the partnership is relevant. Does the content match our products? Above all it is always good to sell the products.”

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