MotoGP sponsorship: the differences between sponsoring a rider and sponsoring a team
If you’ve decided to sponsor a sport (for example, MotoGP), and have gathered all the necessary information on teams and athletes, you might find yourself with one major question to answer – is it more beneficial to sponsor a team or an individual?
Here, we’ve weighed up the pros and cons of each approach. Hopefully, it’ll provide some assistance if you’re making this crucial sports sponsorship decision.
Sponsoring a MotoGP team
Choosing to sponsor a MotoGP team can give you the chance to do business with the company that the team is a direct emanation of – for example Honda, Yamaha, Ducati or Suzuki. These huge brands could then become your customers, allowing you to sell them your products or services.
Secondly, in terms of B2B opportunity, the team may also introduce your company and your brand to other partners involved in the same sponsorship program. And if sponsors loyalty and happiness are one of the goals, this could definitely be a strong benefit; being able to support a partner in doing business with other sponsors.
Other important benefits are the facilities, such as the company museum or the racing department, that the team is likely to have and which can be used by sponsors for PR activities, product launches and other promotional activities.
And then we have to consider the hospitality opportunities. Paddock passes, exclusive experiences and special services provided by the team to their sponsors are always part of a sports sponsorship package. If you’re looking for a way to offer your guests and your best customers an unforgettable weekend of competitions, sponsoring a team could be the right way. This can, of course, also have great B2B benefits.
Another great aspect about sponsoring a MotoGP team instead of the rider, is the stability that the team offers. The team is always there, you know who the top team are, that they have two riders and that they aim to win the Championship or to be on the top 3 or on the top 5 etc. Riders, on the other hand, might suffer from injury and therefore are forced to be out for a couple of races or even more, or have a bad season that can then affect your visibility, or switch team and the new one already has a partner with the same business as yours. All these events can affect your sponsorship program and sometimes it can also happen that you are forced to end the deal. On the contrary, teams have greater stability and can, therefore, give you the opportunity to plan long-term MotoGP sponsorship implementation activities with fewer risk factors.
Sponsoring a MotoGP rider
After having read the first part of this article, it might seem like sponsoring a team is always the best options – but of course, this might not be the case.
Just think about the immediate relationship that exists (for brands to leverage) between an athlete and his/her fanbase; the emotional bond that comes with a rider-based MotoGP sponsorship campaign might be very effective.
MotoGP fans are likely to feel a greater affinity with a rider than with their team, and the athlete in questions is likely to have the charisma, and the fame that your potential customers immediately recognize. After all, when visiting a track a guest is much more likely to try to take a picture with a MotoGP rider – probably settling for a snap with a bike only when the rider is not available.
Now, let’s talk about budgets. If you have a large budget to invest in a MotoGP sponsorship campaign, by sponsoring a team you may be able to use the images of the bikes while racing and the riders in action for a few days. The rider will have to wear the team uniform and can use them in your communication activities. Be aware that personal endorsements (for example, “Valentino Rossi wins with X brand”) is not allowed – for this kind of deals, you always need the direct contract with the athlete in question.
In some cases, the sponsor, in addition to sponsoring the team, also decides to get a deal even with the rider. These operations are quite common; an example to mention is the partnership between Fastweb and Valentino Rossi or Marc Marquez with Gas Jeans.
A careful use of the VIP Village passes could also be a good instrument to add to a MotoGP rider sponsorship – trying to amplify your hospitality operations- You can organize a special event for some selected guest, a sort of a meet and greet with the rider; it will definitely be a hugely beneficial activation in your sports sponsorship campaign.
If you’re in the fortunate position of being able to activate both options that’s great. If not, start by looking at the budget and your hospitality needs. From this point, you‘ll find the solutions that can give you the best results.