How Influential Are Sports Sponsorships?

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In every sport, sponsorship is highly sought after. Formula 1 teams have brands emblazoned all over their cars and uniforms, while football clubs have a main sponsor on the front of the shirt. In recent years, teams in the English Premier League have been allowed to add additional sponsors to their jersey’s sleeves, while lower league clubs are also permitted to include a sponsor on their shirt tails. But, why do companies clamor for such deals? Nissan Europe’s vice president of marketing, Jean Pierre Diernaz, said: “Sport is now the only potential discipline where you can engage very high numbers of people.” 

Here, we look at examples of major sponsorships and what their value is to a business… 


The beautiful game is the world’s most popular sport, whether you call it football or soccer. With an estimated 3.5 billion fans worldwide, sponsoring a football team can open your brand up to so many potential customers across the globe. 

Audi sponsors some major sports clients, including ice hockey club ERC Ingolstadt. However, they are hugely involved in football. For one, they are the official vehicle partner for Spanish football giants Real Madrid. But, what does this actually mean? Well, simply put, each member of the Real Madrid first team is provided with an Audi to drive, with the Audi A7 among those most popular among the players in 2022. The pair have been unified since July 2003 and remain two of the most successful entities in the world. 

The worth to Real Madrid is evident by staff receiving cars. But how does Audi benefit? With Real Madrid being a team full of superstars, the car manufacturer takes advantage of their stature in advertisements. They also perform virtual test drives of new models to build its reputation. 

Elsewhere, Audi is the main sponsors of German club Bayern Munich and have been partnered with them since 2002. In 2015, they extended that agreement until 2025, showing that there is great value in such deals. For their estimated €10 million-per-year-deal, the German manufacturers get their logo printed on the match shirts as well as an 8.8% share in the football club. 

It’s not just Audi who have delved into the football market, either. Volkswagen are invested in the sport too thanks to their sponsorship deal with UEFA. The partnership, agreed in 2021, saw the two entities connected for four years between 2018 and 2022. They plan to release their new e-mobility family in 2022 – just in time for the next European Championships, which will be held across 13 countries and so providing ultimate exposure and brand awareness. 

The CEO of the Volkswagen brand, Dr Herbert Diess, said: “No other sport is as powerful as football or unites so many people. Furthermore, UEFA EURO 2020, which is being played across the entire continent, is a fantastic project. Our wish is to contribute towards building bridges between all countries and football fans with our mobility and creativity.” 

Rugby Union 

Rugby union is currently the UK’s second most popular sport, only behind football, with the Six Nations tournament at the peak of the rugby calendar. In April 2022, English rugby’s top teams agreed to a four-year sponsorship deal worth £40 million with insurance company Gallagher. While the company is US-founded, it currently has 50 UK branches and will be looking to get a stranglehold on the industry thanks to the exposure it will receive from the sport. 

The company’s Chairman, President and CEO, J. Patrick Gallagher Jr, said when the sponsorship was announced: “By uniting with this globally-known and fast-growing franchise, we have a terrific opportunity to increase awareness about our company, values, expertise and services, and jointly participate in community projects and causes to make a difference. This dynamic business and marketing partnership with Premiership Rugby reflects who we are culturally and professionally.” 

These comments help to show just how effective he believes a sponsorship in sport can be. 

Individual Sports Stars 

As well as sponsoring clubs and teams, companies often seek to get some of the world’s biggest stars on board as they can be role models, thus having people want to wear the brands their heroes wear. 

An example of this is Michael Jordan in basketball. The former superstar still brings in a whopping $110 million each year thanks to his deal with Nike – over 15 years after he retired from the sport thanks to his savvy sports agents. Retro Jordan trainers (or sneakers if you may) are still strong sellers. In the fiscal year ending May 2021, the range’s revenue was $2.8 billion, meaning a deal with the star is certainly worth it for the clothing giants. 

Usain Bolt’s sponsorship deal with Puma is another that shows that stars can help increase a brand’s equity and brand awareness. They used him in the Olympics in 2016 to enhance their brand awareness without having to be an official sponsor of the Games. Knowing he would be one of the most photographed participants, they knew they’d be heavily involved in sports media content. Bolt helped to do this by taking off his iconic trainers after a gold-winning run and making them noticeable to the whole stadium and in every photo. 


Of course, these are just a few examples of sports marketing deals across the world. Every sport, including everything from racing to golf, has its worth for brands and can help influence its audience. Choosing the correct sporting sponsorships can pretty much guarantee global exposure for a business, making it a no brainer. Sponsoring a festival or other event won’t even come close to the outreach levels provided by sports, and that is why sports will continue to be extremely influential in sponsorships.

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