With live sport at a standstill and empty stadiums dominating our foreseeable future, the well of sponsorship dollars is drying up fast for many rights-holders. Sponsors and advertisers are writing off their 2020 budgeted spends, while others are unwilling to commit until they have more visibility.
Conversations with leading brands in Asia are no different. There isn’t much money on offer and, for the little that is, vanilla solutions with campaign storyboards that may have adequate strategies pre-Covid-19 do not go beyond the first phone call.
The pressure on rights-holders is great. Without fans in the stands for the foreseeable future, their main play right now is through content engagement. We are finding that simple appointment viewing releases of content at regular times is working significantly better than random publishing. We are also finding that content that allows for real-time engagement is stickier.
Public health and CSR-related sponsorship initiatives are among those that are going to resonate strongly now. As a case-in-point, the 1 Play Sports team is shortly launching a sponsorship initiative with a leading insurance business in Singapore. 1 Play Sports is a sports streaming services provider that helps sports organisations create free-to-view live streams and other video content, for distribution on social media.
The insurance brand initiative we are involved with is based around a campaign in which Singaporeans can register online to receive a free fitness kit, delivered the same day, with a retail value of SG$100. Items in the kit can then be used to take part in home workouts led by videos distributed on 1 Play Sports’ social media and television platforms. These videos include four hours of fresh content daily. Local sports influencers will demonstrate the fitness kit in short form videos, with a call-to-action to get viewers to register.
Each kit bag is hand delivered with a short video on the insurance services that the brand offers. There is no required commitment to purchase any of the services. The kit simply creates the chance for the brand to speak to the target group.
The initiative is CSR-led, with a “stay at home, stay safe, stay fit” message that chimes with local government priorities. Those taking part get a valuable gift, and the insurance business and platform gets a captive database that provides a focused return on investment. 1 Play Sports and the insurance business acquire brand awareness and recall, while positioning themselves as community-focused businesses. This is a good place to be for any business today. The return on investment is transparent and easily measurable, and the investment is scalable since the brand can justify its cost of customer acquisition against an average dollar revenue value per lead. As long as the revenue value is higher than the cost per lead, there is no need for a budget cap.
This sort of innovative, direct engagement with an audience and calculable return on investment is what many sponsors have been asking for in recent years. Satisfying this demand will be even more critical in the Covid-19 and post-Covid-19 worlds.
Whether or not this specific campaign works will be determined over the next few months and will be largely dependent how efficiently 1 Play Sports is able to engage with its audience. We will likely have to tweak along the way to ensure that the content cuts through, using influencer-led, direct storytelling with a clear and easy call-to-action.
While hard to find, new sponsorship opportunities do exist in our strange new world. And the public health and CSR themes should be fruitful ones to explore for brands, sports properties, and everyone else involved in the sponsorship value chain.