MotoGP sponsorship: what it is, how it works and all you need to know
Sponsorship in MotoGP is a highly efficient tool for companies of any type to achieve their marketing and sales goals. The popularity of the World Motorcycling Championship, with its wide and cross-cutting target audience, and the geographical features of the championship contribute to creating a stunning marketing platform that offers numerous benefits and various activation opportunities. Our intent with this post is to provide our readers with an overview of sponsorship in MotoGP, addressing its costs, advantages and application opportunities, and presenting some of our case histories for the sake of exemplification.
MotoGP sponsorship: definition and purpose
As is the case with all sports marketing programmes, sports sponsorship too (sponsorship in MotoGP, more specifically) serves the major purpose of endowing companies with winning communication and promotional assets, which are intended to eventually pursue high levels of effectiveness. Without using metaphors, sports sponsorship, and sponsorship in MotoGP as a result, is a tool which companies use in the attempt to increase their sales, to win new market shares, to re-position their brand, and to enhance the visibility and popularity of the brand, among others.
What is sports sponsorship then? As we pointed out in this blog on several occasions, sports sponsorship is defined as follows: “the acquisition of rights in goods and/or services upon monetary compensation, resulting from affiliation or association with a product, a team/club, an organization or an event for the purpose of deriving benefits related to that affiliation or association at financial, marketing or reputation level (Mullin, Hardy, 2014)”.
A key issue to understand the entire concept of sponsorship is the rights vested on the sponsor upon signing of a sponsorship agreement. The stipulation of the sponsorship agreement vests the sponsor with a series of rights, which are distinguished between “acquired rights” and “derived rights”. These form the ground based on which the company will implement its subsequent marketing actions. Acquired rights include the rights that are expressly mentioned in the sports sponsorship agreement: the type and extent of visibility on motorbikes and communication media, the number of passes available for hospitalities, the possibility to use showbikes, the participation of riders and team managers in company’s events, and so on and so forth. Derived rights, on the other hand, are rights indirectly resulting from acquired rights and their rise depends on the smart use of the tools specified in the agreement. Derived rights include, for instance, the possibility to organise a contest promoted using images of the sponsored team, in which the final prize is a ticket for a Grand Prix race. They also include special storytelling for the social media, in which the users are engaged online with the help of new and original arguments using pictures and videos shot in collaboration with the Team.
This preliminary introduction is intended to clarify a key concept, which we will try and point out in further details below: sponsorship in MotoGP is not merely limited and down to the application of a decal on the fairing of a team’s or a rider’s motorbike. It is far more than this: visibility is, in fact, one of many benefits resulting from a sponsorship agreement, always in pursuance of the company’s objectives and in line with its marketing and sales goals.
MotoGP sponsorship: targets, audience, geography and values
Focusing on MotoGP sponsorships, after briefly hinting at the meaning and potential of sports sponsorships, necessarily leads to address the other half of heaven, i.e. MotoGP. RTR Sports Marketing has been offering consultancy to businesses that are willing to use sports marketing to achieve their goals for over 20 years now, paying special attention to the world of motor sports: MotoGP, Formula 1, Formula E and MotoE.
Why has our main focus been on motor sports, some may ask? Apart from being a personal preference, the decision to focus on motor sports, and MotoGP especially, is based on many reasons which are extremely valuable for both companies and brands at commercial level.
These reasons include the size of the audience, the geography of the target audience, the composition of the audiences and value-related motivations. This topic is worth a more in-depth investigation.
- AUDIENCE SIZE: MotoGP, the longest lasting motor championship in the world, is an amazingly popular series. It is quite fair to say that, together with other prestigious leagues and sports (e.g. the Champions League, the NBA, the Premier League and Formula 1), MotoGP actually has an appeal on a wide and global audience. Some simple figures can illustrate the size of this market: each racing weekend (19 per year in total) 207 nations receive the video signal of the World Motor Championship, with each race totalling a number of viewers equal to hundred million people. These are stunning figures which become more so if you take into account the number of digital interactions (6.7 billion last year, totalled by the various official online platforms together – Source: Dorna) and the actual spectators at the Grand Prix races, which hit 2,884,242 tickets sold in 2018.
- GEOGRAPHY: one of the greatest advantages offered by MotoGP sponsorships to companies is its extraordinary internationality. The 19-race championship visits 14 nations in 5 continents in the course of 9 months, which makes it a travelling communication platform. Internationality is not merely a quality of the TV audience and the people behind the screen: every weekend companies have the opportunity to engage the audience in different countries with hospitality initiatives and operations in the shopping areas of the race circuits.
- VALUES: as all motor sports, MotoGP too embodies highly appreciated values that are shared by most companies. Besides competitiveness, the pursuit of success and team work, which are common to most sports, MotoGP has peculiarities linked to speed, technology and development to enhance performances. These are, of course, features and qualities that any company would be willing to be associated with. Overlapping values or the transfer of values from the sports property to the sponsor company is one of the distinguishing features of the sports sponsorship tool. The association with sport, which is rich in noble and prestigious meanings and values, enables the brands to rapidly acquire a multitude of values which both the audience and the other investors appreciate.
Benefits resulting from MotoGP sponsorship: visibility, B2B, brand positioning and much more
After dealing with sponsorship in MotoGP and listing some of the peculiarities of the Championship, it is worth briefly dwelling on the advantages resulting from MotoGP sponsorships for a would-be sponsor company.
As is the case with all sponsorships, the advantages offered to companies by sponsorships in MotoGP are many and different, in both commercial and marketing terms. Please find a short and non comprehensive list below.
- VISIBILITY AND BRAND AWARENESS:where provided in the sponsorship agreement, the application of the brand on the motorbikes or racing suits immediately triggers huge visibility at international level. Given the very large numbers mentioned above and the extraordinary media coverage during the racing weekends, MotoGP can offer very high visibility to all brands, irrespective of their location on the fairing of a motorbike, a racing suit or the large billboards along the racing track, which are a prerogative to the official sponsors of the World Motor Championship. Visibility translates into brand awareness. This is an essential aspect for companies that wish to win new markets and to become known to the general public, as well as for already popular brands that wish to keep their position in the mind of consumers and strengthen brand preference.
- B2B: another essential key topic, which is too often underestimated, relates to great Business To Business opportunities, in other words the possibility for companies that are MotoGP partners to directly enter into mutual agreements. As was mentioned many times in our blog, being in the paddock means being a member of an exclusive club joined by other companies that are willing to expand their business network and relationships. This facilitates the establishment of new commercial agreements between partner companies and other businesses. Additionally, companies are offered the opportunity to directly enter into deals with the big manufacturers of the World Motor Championship, which are at the same time sports teams and the extension of large groups on the race track (Honda, for instance, producing 16 million pieces a year) constantly looking for the best suppliers and partners for their business.
- B2C: thirdly, one of the main advantages and benefits deriving from sponsorships is the positive effect on sales. Data published by Dorna show that consumers prefer products and companies that are associated with the World Motor Championship. How can this be explained? Firstly, visibility and communication help the products climb up along the imaginary scale of consumers’ awareness, who thus associate them to an activity they appreciate. Secondly, the bond with a series having a tested value makes the products immediately more credible and reliable to consumers.
- STORYTELLING:by its very nature, sponsorship offers the sponsor company the possibility to use the name, image and reputation of the sponsored property. This means creating a large database of pictures and videos to build an interesting storytelling for customers. It is basically about finding highly efficient communication arguments which have a direct grip on the end consumers or on the surrounding pool of investors. Becoming a partner of MotoGP means becoming an integral piece of an intriguing puzzle and a member of a great story which has to do with sports and much more than this. Using these arguments at best in communication means enjoying a huge competitive advantage to competitors.
- SOCIAL REACH: the concepts above are especially true in this time of digital communication and social media. In a scenario where everyone has a profile in the Internet – companies and private citizens alike – having the opportunity to use pictures and videos of beloved, appreciated and very popular riders to populate one’s timeline is a key asset. In addition to this, the communication departments of the teams and riders can contribute their support and help to further strengthen the operation. With their million followers all over the world, these people are highly powerful drivers for any digital communication strategy.
- BRAND POSITIONING: the above-mentioned arguments concerning values are also essential when it comes to brand positioning, in other words the position of the brand in the consumer’s psychology. Getting associated with a championship that is so abounding in positive values appreciated by the public (speed, passion, performance, technology) is like saying “I am exactly like that!”, which improves the perception that our target audience have of our brand or product.
- PR OPPORTUNITIES: last but not least, sponsorship is an excellent public relation tool. As explained above, it is not simply a matter of availing of a communication strategy that enjoys the favour and attention of the audience: you can also use riders, showbikes and protagonists from the racing world to breathe life to your conventions, trade exhibitions and company’s events.
Sponsoring a MotoGP rider or a Team, that is the question
The world of sponsorships in MotoGP is borderless and offers a large variety of opportunities which are very different from one another. This is why – which is always worth stressing – there are no predefined and pre-made sponsorship packages in MotoGP: each individual sponsorship project and each individual marketing plan are patiently assembled and tailored according to the objectives, demands and needs of the companies wishing to start the sponsorship.
Having said this, anyone willing to enter this world is faced with one first and significant decision to make: what to sponsor. Generally speaking, it is now fair to state that companies can sponsor or become partners in different realities, all of equal dignity and significance. Please find a list below, including a brief rationale.
SPONSORING A MOTOGP TEAM
Sponsoring a MotoGP Team is probably the most popular and most widely spread form of partnership in the World Motor Championship. Working with a team offers a series of benefits with immediate returns: the team owns visibility spaces on the motorbikes (the most visible items on TV and from the stands), governs the hospitality areas within the paddock and has the facilities, equipment and staff to place your logo on. In addition to this, the team offers another advantage that must not be underestimated. Riders may come and go, change their suit and fortune, but teams are stable and bound to stay: this is an important point, especially when focusing on long-term communication plans.
SPONSORING A MOTOGP RIDER
Riders are the actual heroes of this sport. They are the reason why fans queue on Sundays and patiently wait long hours outside their motor homes for a photo or an autograph. If, on the one hand, sponsoring a rider entails missing something in terms of live visibility (the spaces available on the helmet or on the suit are smaller and, often, they have already been optioned by the teams), on the other, it offers the opportunity to use the rider as your testimonial and to do so in digital communication. Riders have huge reaches and their accounts are often followed by many more people than the teams.
SPONSORING DORNA, THE MOTOGP ORGANISER
A frequently missed opportunity is sponsoring the Championship organiser and becoming an official sponsor of the MotoGP World Championship. Although this option has higher economic entry levels than the two above, the returns on investments are, in most cases, undoubtedly stunning. The world championship organiser is the owner of the billboards on the circuits, organises the great Corporate hospitalities at the MotoGP VIP Village and manages the Title Sponsorships of the Grand Prix races. If this is not enough, consider the risks resulting from the possibility that a team or a rider experiences bad days or unlucky seasons. Well, these risks are definitely minimised when the subject of the partnership is the entity running the entire show.
SPONSORING THE MOBILE CLINIC
A word is also worth spending on the opportunities offered by sponsorships involving the Mobile Clinic. This historical reality of sports medicine, founded by Doctor Costa in the 70s and currently run by Doctor Zasa, is far more than a mere institution in the paddock. The Clinic is the place where riders are given First Aid, as well as rehab, physiotherapy and comfort. It represents an interesting occasion for companies in the healthcare, food supplement and medication industries to be in the paddock and get a cross-cutting position, certain of meeting all riders from all classes, often for a tiny price.
Sponsoring Moto2 and Moto3
The World Motorcycling Championship is not about MotoGP only: its line-ups are completed by Moto2, Moto3 and MotoE, categories which can be defined as lower for the engine size, but characterised by great competitive spirit and a terrific show. Both Moto2 and Moto3 reserve a great sports content to their fans, which partly comes from the vivacious personalities of the very young riders of Moto3 (250cc motorbikes) and from the huge balance of the Moto2 championship (600cc motorbikes). Dorna, the world championship organiser, was very cunning and gave all classes large dignity and equal value, thus effectively clearing the way from the idea of these being “minor categories”.
Sponsoring these categories and becoming a sponsor of Moto3 and Moto2 can be an extremely interesting starting point for companies with peculiar objectives and needs.
First of all, these classes fairly have lower entry investment levels for sponsors. It is quite legitimate to say – leaving metaphors aside – that a sponsorship in Moto2 costs less than a sponsorship in MotoGP and a sponsorship in Moto3 costs less than a sponsorship in Moto2. It is therefore an excellent starting point for businesses wishing to enter the world of the two wheels with certainly interesting programmes and having an efficient “gym”, at more affordable costs though.
Secondly, classes below MotoGP are undoubtedly more flexible in terms of sponsorship and activation opportunities. MotoGP teams hardly move out of the conventional contexts and rigid guidelines imposed by large manufacturers: lower classes are suppler with this respect.
The whole point, which raises a strategic more than a tactical issue, is: better to be “great among the small or small among the great”? In other words, with an equal level of investments, MotoGP offers far less than Moto2 and Moto3: less visibility, a smaller number of hospitality passes, fewer riders and managers ready to participate in company’s happenings and common events. Despite this, MotoGP undeniably has an extraordinary visibility and popularity – far greater than its underlying classes -, which makes each sponsor a major player on a much wider scene.
So, the question cannot be given one single indisputable answer: in this specific case, the company’s marketing objectives in conjunction with the expertise of the sports marketing agency can set the pace and define the best solution to take.
The right place for sponsors: an insight on visibility in MotoGP sponsorship
After addressing the sponsorship options with teams, riders and different classes, another important aspect to examine is the physical positioning of the sponsors within the given spaces. In other words, when it comes to visibility, what are the most coveted positions for the sponsors’ brands?
A very clear and, for some aspects, surprising answer to this question is given by current studies and research performed with highly sophisticated digital exposure measurement tools. Going against the common stream of thinking, riders generate the highest visibility for the sponsors – approx. 48% of the total – motorbikes account for 27%, the team 13% (suits worn by mechanics and Team Principals), locations in garages 7% and the remaining spaces 5%. Although this figure may sound surprising, it does make sense if you consider that the visibility generated throughout the weekend also includes interviews, prize giving, close-ups of the riders before the race start or tracking shots of the team in the box during, before and after the race.
And surprises do not end even when it comes to the positioning of the sponsors’ brands on the motorbike. The greatest visibility is not generated by the largest space on the bike, i.e. the side of the fairing, but by the small front windscreen which is often in the shooting direction of cameras. The front windscreen takes 33% of the scene to the detriment of the saddle (22%), the side fairings (18%), the low fairings (16%) and the two mudguards together (10%).
The above shows that “the biggest, the better” does not always apply when it comes to visibility. A small brand affixed near the front windscreen is better than a large brand which is always missed by the cameras. This is where sports marketing consultancy agencies can have a significant role. With their measurement and reporting tools, agencies have the expertise to recommend the ideal choice for their customers, based on the company’s objectives and the way it intends to use the sponsorship.
Other direct benefits of sponsorships: paddock passes and hospitalities in the paddock
After our overview on visibility and how it is generated by the spaces on the motorbike and on the rider, let’s now address another direct benefit offered by MotoGP sponsorship, i.e. the paddock passes the teams give their sponsors as an hospitality tool during races.
Each team makes available to their partners a predefined number of season passes, based on their financial contribution and the type of contractual agreements (some companies like hospitalities better than having visibility spaces, others prefer the opposite). The allocation of passes – more specifically their number and the races they give access to – is the subject of negotiations at the contract definition stage with a view to fulfilling the requirements of all the parties who have different interests and engagements in the various countries involved. For instance, Italian companies long for passes during races in Italy, which is the very reason why the Italian teams may have problems in pleasing all their guests.
Once they are contracted and allocated, paddock passes grant access to the “operational” area of the circuit, which is the paddock, throughout the whole racing weekend, enabling pass holders to stroll in the motor home and hospitality truck areas. In truth, bizarre rumours have spread out over the years concerning paddock passes in that they have often been portrayed as wish items capable of opening up all doors and giving free access to the paddock to meet the riders, to take photos in the garages and to sit in the first row during the race. In practical terms, holding a paddock pass only entitles the sponsor to the above if the sponsor has agreements for specific activities organised with the team. In all other cases, access to hospitalities is prevented, entrance in the garages is prohibited and the possibility to watch the race is basically none.
However, as mentioned above, when the paddock pass is linked to sponsorship operations and hospitalities agreed with the team, its effectiveness is boosted. Sponsors offering their guests, prior agreement with the Team, the opportunity to enjoy the Grand Prix live will also be able to grant them access to the Team facilities for lunch and dinner events, to organise structured paddock tours and visits to the garage, and to hand over merchandising – for instance, a replica of the team suit.
When planned wittingly (starting from invitations up to proper logistic organisation), hospitality operations become extremely powerful B2B tools which can contribute to consolidating relationships with the sponsor’s own stakeholders. As may be easy to understand, paddock passes are just one important, yet not decisive ingredient of these tools. Sports marketing agencies play a key role in this specific case, as they can network all the different elements and grant both sponsors and their guests a first-rate experience, reaping the best the world motor championship can offer and minimising annoying side effects, if any.
The costs of sponsorship in MotoGP: how much is a World Motorcycling Championship sponsor expected to pay?
The time has now come to move on to an essential topic which very often is the focus of debates on the world of sponsorships. How much is becoming a MotoGP sponsor? There is only one possible answer, and this is what you can expect from a sector operator: the cost is flexible. It all depends on the ultimate goal of the sponsor, on the company’s objectives, on the target, on the type of sponsorship chosen and on the budget at hand.
Each sponsorship – it is important to point this out one more time – is made to measure after an exchange of ideas between the team and the sponsor in the attempt to blend the ingredients in a balanced manner so as to create the most suitable recipe. Although no pre-defined packages are available, macro areas of investment can be identified, i.e. price brackets within which to move. Please find a list below, taking into account that the following costs refer to the major class, MotoGP, while the costs for other series such as Moto2 and Moto3 are quite different.
MotoGP Partner – 50,000€
Fifty thousand Euro is the least amount required to start working on projects with satellite teams (not with official teams). Although it hardly gives visibility, this amount offers the partner the opportunity to acquire marketing and communication rights and have a big story to tell both online and offline. Alternatively, and with some teams only, this amount may be enough to start visibility operations on the motorbike or on the rider for either one or two races, thus maximising the territorial impact in some geographical areas.
MotoGP Technical Sponsor or MotoGP Sponsor – 50,000 to 100,000 Euro
Amounts ranging from fifty to one hundred thousand Euro are a good starting point for visibility on the motorbike and on the rider (as well as on the vehicles and communication media of the Team), in addition to marketing and communication rights with satellite Teams. The amount also includes the allocation of some hospitality passes. Although visibility is not particularly large, some returns in terms of brand awareness are normally experienced.
Official MotoGP Sponsor – 100,000€ to 500,000€
These amounts enable approaching the official teams which often fill the first lines in the grid and the podium. Although these are lower visibility spaces, the opportunities in terms of communication, B2B and hospitality are hugely increased. With reference to satellite Teams, amounts ranging between 100,000 and 500,000 Euro are enough to legitimately expect significant spaces for the brand on the rider, on the motorbike and on all communication tools used by the team. Showbikes, passes for the races, participation in company’s events and support in communication are integral parts of the agreement. Although the amount is not considerable, this level of investment urges the company to have a clear strategic thinking and to plan marketing and communication properly in order to fully utilise all the rights resulting from the sponsorship.
First Level Official Sponsor – 500,000€ to 2,000,000€
These amounts enable sponsors to have a say with all the teams for significant positions. They give access to huge spaces with Satellite Teams and excellent visibility with official teams. Communication support, acquired rights, hospitality options and other activations are guaranteed, and in great style.
Main Sponsor in MotoGP – 2 to 5 million Euro
As is easy to infer, these amounts will make the sponsor a member of the élite of MotoGP sponsors: the visibility these programmes can generate is stunning, and so is the image return. These are international, cross-cutting communication initiatives offering many tools and opportunities – in and outside the race tracks -, such as videos, events, participation of riders and managers to company’s events, and extensive use of communication rights. The number of hospitalities and passes for the races rises to disproportionate levels, and so do B2B opportunities, throughout the 19 races of the world championship.
Title Sponsor in MotoGP – 5 to 15 million Euro
This is the highest level of sponsorship in the World Motor Championship: title sponsor. It gives the opportunity to rename the team after the sponsor and to dress both the motorbike and the riders in the colours of the sponsor’s brand. Needless to say, the benefits are huge and cover the entire range of conceivable activities. This investment enables magnifying the name and brand position in the 207 nations reached by the TV signal of the MotoGP, which makes the sponsor an undisputed protagonist during the racing weekend as well as at any other time of the year. The hospitality facilities on the race track become the sponsor’s travelling headquarters and the riders, staff and technicians are wearing the sponsor’s colours.
Sponsoring one race or one event only: maximising the impact on the territory
As highlighted in the list above, sports sponsorships are characterised by great flexibility, which is the base for doing a highly tactical work even with one or two events only. This opportunity was introduced in recent years and by a bunch of teams who are willing to meet the needs of sponsors and fulfil all their demands.
Sponsoring one race only is an excellent strategy to achieve great visibility, without paying exorbitant amounts, selecting a territory that is very important for the company and working on it with surgical accuracy. Hospitality programmes can equally be developed to render each individual Grand Prix an occasion to meet the most significant guests and to reward the best partners and collaborators.
Additionally, the races in which the sponsor is willing to appear must not necessarily be consecutive in time: many are the companies that chose to be part of Italian races (Misano and Mugello) or Spanish races only in order to be sure to take a vertical approach in these nations.
Please note that not all the Teams offer such opportunities. Normally, Satellite Teams are more prone to activate this type of programmes, while the official teams try to be consistent (including from an aesthetic standpoint) throughout the year. In recent years these programmes have been implemented successfully by teams such as LCR Honda and Octo Pramac, whose liveries have now become a trademark to such extent that they are still highly recognisable even if they change.
The advantages of sponsoring one single event or one single race are quite self-evident, especially from a financial standpoint. However, some negative aspects too need to be highlighted. To focus all efforts on one Grand Prix lays itself open to the potential drawback that the Grand Prix ends up being a bad weekend for either the sponsored team or the rider. Unluckily, it is not infrequent in motor sports that falls and mechanical breakage (not to mention performances way below standard) undermine the effectiveness of the operation and prevent the desired benefits from being achieved.
There is, however, more to it. As only a very few days in the whole season are concerned, the company is deprived of the necessary learning curve which is typical in cases when the sponsor opts for a multifaceted and insightful tool such as sponsorship. Longer programmes offer the possibility to re-train one’s sights and refine some details, which is of course not feasible when the selected option lasts a few days only. In these cases, it is even more important to have the right people by your side, people who know the sector and can help you skip holes in the ground and shocks.
Regional Sponsorship: sponsoring one single territory
Regional Sponsorships are the right choice for companies that are willing to become sponsors and want to work accurately and without wasting resources on the identified target. As the term suggests, this special form of sponsorship enables communication and marketing rights to be used exclusively within some territories, notably those in which the company is mostly interested. In the selected countries, the company will be able to use the name, image and reputation of the sponsored team for its communication strategy, producing billboards, merchandising, pop-up materials and any other items it may deem useful.
It should be noted that regional sponsorships allow other companies, including those in the same sector, to enjoy the name “Regional Sponsor of Team XYZ” without, however, breaking the principle of category exclusivity. Additionally, regional sponsorships very hardly, or honestly never, include forms of visibility on motorbikes, riders’ suits and communication media, as it would be impossible to geographically limit logo exposure – the very concept of territoriality would be missed where this was feasible. Failed visibility is, however, normally offset by hospitality passes, support in communication and, in some cases, showbikes, as well as teams and riders participating in company’s events.
Local partnerships are an efficient tool that, like short-term sponsorships, offers the opportunity to implement highly tactical and vertical actions on the target, at relatively low costs. As this type of opportunity is not offered to partners by all teams, however, it is advisable to turn to a sports marketing agency specialising in motor sports to get to know all the existing options.
Sponsorships and goods exchange: the role of barter in sponsorship
One aspect of sponsorships that is sometimes not given proper consideration is the possibility for the company to partially make up for the cost of the sponsorship with a supply of goods or services. This option is most commonly known as bartering.
The exercise of bartering, i.e. the exchange of goods and services in lieu of money to pay the agreed amount, is quite frequent in the world of motor sports sponsorships, and this is also due to the wide range of needs that both the Teams and Organisations have. You should never forget that a MotoGP team is a complex entity consisting of many people, on one hand, and many structures, on the other. As such, it requires extremely high quality materials, services and supplies to work at best. Take the paddock, for instance. It is moved every 15 days on board large and powerful trucks: entire hospitality buildings are erected and dismantled using tools, platforms, safety work clothing and handling equipment. Alternatively, think about peak days with visitors: the kitchens in the hospitality buildings on the race tracks normally cook for over 250 people every day, serving meat, wine, cheese, coffee, water, and much more. The list of examples may continue: there are Teams on the verge of renovating their headquarters and therefore need construction materials, or other Teams are in need of multiple ITC tools, such as computers, hand-held devices, high resolution screens, and audio and video devices, to keep up with the required high performance levels. You will not really need to rack your brains to realise how huge the needs of the teams are, as most of the year they live, work, eat and operate on the road, and to understand the large array of materials they may require.
Needless to say, in this case too the lowest common denominator is shared objectives: the objectives of the team, on the one hand, which may require specific materials or supplies, and the objectives of the company, on the other, which may need an effective communication platform and is therefore willing to enter into a sponsorship programme.
One thing to be pointed out, however, is that the sponsorship value is hardly ever fully covered by the barter. Goods and services are very often a portion of the full compensation that must be supplemented with a monetary counterpart, which is a necessary prerequisite to sign the agreement.
Performances on the racing track and insurance policies in MotoGP: instructions for use
The agreement binding the rider to the team often includes bonuses linked to the racing results. Such bonuses normally come in the form of amounts of money to reward the rider according to whether he wins the championship or a race, he ranks second in a race or in the championship and he ranks third in a race or in the championship.
How bonuses work
The team is thankful to the rider for doing his job at best and for hitting such high performances as to give advantages to both the team and the sponsors in terms of visibility. So, they are happy to dip into their pockets. A winning team is a better product and, as such, it can be sold at a higher price.
Sponsorship agreements between the Team and the Sponsor may include this type of understanding by which risk is transferred from the former to the latter. Of course, it is positive risks and each sponsor should be happy to be in this position. However, risks are risks and, as such, they may be mitigated by the signing of dedicated insurance policies with insurance brokers specialising in this sector. Any cunning sponsor should take this opportunity into account and find a solution for any potential “issue” at the beginning of the year. The advantage offered is to have the opportunity to establish the budget of the entire insurance transaction at the time of activity planning in order to enjoy the team victories without any additional headache prior payment of a known insurance price.
Activations: getting the best out of a MotoGP sponsorship
If you think that a sports sponsorship begins and ends with the application of your brand on the fairing of a motorbike (or items used by any other sports discipline alike), you are wrong. The benefit a sponsorship can give will eventually be boosted if activities aimed at maximising its value are undertaken.
This is how the concept of sponsorship activation is so crucial in sports marketing. An overall definition of sponsorship activation may be as follows. An activation is a system of actions and tools that are directly connected to the sponsorship programme with the purpose of maximising its effectiveness and benefits. Ultimately, and referencing our initial lines, it is about generating secondary benefits in addition to primary benefits. There are many types of activations, ranging from hospitality programmes to storytelling on digital media. Our focus will be on a practical example to show how a minor activity can bring about great results for the company.
An example of activation: the contest
In our example the BRAND company is a producer of small appliances and it is the official sponsor of a MotoGP team. The direct benefits of this sponsorship include the possibility to use the name and brand of the Team for communication activities. To increase sales building on the passion of the fans, the BRAND company may think of launching a contest activation in which each client buying an amount of BRAND products exceeding 50 Euro is given a coupon to participate in the contest and win one of 5 weekends at stake with the Team during the last Grand Prix of the season. The BRAND company will use images and videos obtained from the sponsorship to promote the contest both online and offline (which is a direct benefit) and will offer passes for the Grand Prix as the contest prizes (another direct benefit).
There is more to this, however. The BRAND company may even be willing to create a powerful flywheel on social media and eventually decide to announce the winner on Facebook or Twitter, thus compelling the public to follow its social channels. Within this system, the company has the chance of making available other prizes, such as merchandising or autographed photos (other direct benefits), to people who invite 10 friends to click the Like button on the page, or similar. After this type of operation, the BRAND company sales are very likely to grow, and so are the number of followers on the social media and the media coverage.
Sponsorship activations: creativity and experience
Although the case illustrated above is for exemplification purposes only, it is useful to explain what an activation is in simple terms: it is an activity leveraging on the sponsorship to achieve the desired marketing and sales objectives. Activities in the circuit shopping area, hospitalities, sponsorship-related licences, contests, targeted storytelling and a multitude of additional operations can become crucial and extremely profitable under the communication and sales standpoint for the company.
No doubt, creativity is an essential element in activations, but experience too matters: the risk is to waste a lot of time and resources if you do not know the applicable regulations and the right interlocutors. This is where sports marketing agencies have a role, especially when it comes to engineering and putting in place an effective system of activations to help the company get the best out of its sponsorship programmes.
The role of a sports marketing agency
The section above paves the way for a more in-depth analysis of sports marketing agencies, otherwise known as sponsorship agencies. In our modern world, we are one click away from anything and our interlocutors can be reached potentially anywhere with an email message.
What is the role of the agency in this context? The answer to this question is wide-ranging and multi-faceted, which is why it deserves attention. The Internet and the means of communication have certainly contributed to shrinking distances and they have created new opportunities. Times and spaces have been reduced drastically and never-ending phone books, which were the actual trump card of any communication man, have now gone. This contraction, however, has contributed to creating widespread confusion and giving the (incorrect) impression that no more rules exist to follow or paths to take.
Sport, with its peculiarities and pace, is a complicated world whose mechanisms are to be understood and handled with care. This is even more true for international motor sports where seasonal factors, times in the week and unfavourable hours, even if this is only to have a good conversation, deserve proper consideration.
The primary role of an agency is to save companies from the learning curve they normally experience to take an effective approach to the world of sports, to certainly reduce the times, to immediately get connected to the right interlocutor and to avoid waste. Secondly, the agency is aware of the possibilities on the market in real-time, considering that the rule of category exclusivity applies in sponsorships. Let’s clear this concept with an example. Suppose you are a battery manufacturer – but the case would be the same with a communications operator or a pharmaceutical company: the agency will be able to identify and recommend the teams who are free for the kind of products you manufacture. Thirdly, the agency can support you with the necessary data, figures and research to make your own successful decision towards the fulfilment of your goals. Such information include: the sport to sponsor, the category, and the team. Why taking the risk of making rash decisions and have regrets a few months later? The agency has the figures, research and perspective vision required to invest your money at best.
As highlighted in the previous sections, the agency also has a heritage of expertise in terms of activations and case histories which may be used as a source of inspiration, where they are not a first-hand solution: a contest or, maybe, an Out of Home campaign, an event with riders or perhaps a video or a digital activation. If you turn to an agency that has an over twenty-year-long experience in the sector, they are very likely to have already tackled this kind of situations and to know the best solution.
Another important aspect is micro management and problem-solving in daily sponsorship management activities and fine-tuning, where needed. How long does it take to drive my guests to the race track on Sunday morning? Which authorisations are needed to shoot videos on official test days? Is a photo shooting with the rider in a suit and tie possible or does the rider have to wear the team suit? Can the brand be moved to a different location half way through the season? These are all minor and major factors that need to be handled in everyday management and with an overview approach: the agency can provide effective support in this.
RTR Sports Marketing: an over 20-year-long leader in MotoGP sponsorships
RTR Sports Marketing has been helping companies fulfil their marketing and sales objectives through sport since 1995. We have decided to focus on the motor sports sector – MotoGP in particular – to offer our customers the vertical approach, professionalism and expertise they need. We do believe that each sport is a separate world with its rules, protagonists and specific know-how.
If you wish to be part of this world and you would like to evaluate the opportunities the World Motor Championship and other motor sports offer, we will be glad to give you our in-depth consultancy and support. You can find our contacts on the pages of this website or write us at: firstname.lastname@example.org