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Sponsorships to be dropped or ‘flexed’ in crisis, says former NBA executive

(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

US sports industry veteran Emilio Collins has told SportBusiness that short-term sponsorship contracts could be dropped and longer-term deals scrutinised for flexibility because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The former executive vice-president of global marketing partnerships at the NBA, now chief business officer at the Excel Sports Management agency, said brands in most industries will feel “enormous economic losses” and that the properties they sponsor will not be immune to the business fall-out.

Collins said: “Short-term deals will largely be dropped where feasible and longer-term deals heavily scrutinised with mandates for maximum flexibility.

“Teams and leagues are not even possible to activate at the moment. Some brands will turn to personalities on a limited basis, but even there, will need to take considerable care in striking the appropriate marketing tone during this time.”

Read this: Brands to ‘hit pause’ on sponsorship as pandemic takes hold

While the sponsorship business is “obviously looking at a significant near-term hit given the sports world is largely at a stand-still,” Collins believes sports remains a “powerful unifier”.

“Last week it took one sick NBA player [Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert, pictured above] for the entire sports world to shut down within 48 hours, and the broader community at large ostensibly woke up.

“Sports has that impact and as we emerge from this, brands will be looking to align themselves with what consumers will be longing for – live entertainment.

“This will be a powerful opportunity for brands, especially for some of the stronger sectors of business less affected by the downturn, such as communications, insurance and technology.“