The Power Of Sports Sponsorship: Why The Success Of Corporate Brands, Sports Are Intertwined

Carolyne Kendi is the Chief Marketing Officer at Absa Bank Kenya PLC. PHOTO/ ABSA BANK KENYA PLC

By Carolyne Kendi

Corporate sponsorship has over the last century transformed sports into a multi- billion-shilling enterprise that has created a wealth of opportunities for many sportspeople and corporate entities. To state it plainly, no sporting activity has thrived and grown into full time exploits without sponsorship.

Leading brands such as Red Bull, Nike, Coca-Cola, Hyundai, Emirates, and Adidas spend billions of dollars in recent years to market their brand to billions of viewers who tune into television screens and internet channels to watch their favorite teams or athletes compete.

When it comes to sports sponsorship, Red Bull’s sponsorship of Formula One probably deserves a case study. Formula One is synonymous with speed, aggression, style, adventure, and fearlessness, all of which Red Bull customers identify with. What Red Bull has managed to create is a strong brand image, which has given Red Bull a competitive advantage. According to 2021 Statista, Red Bull is now one of the world’s best-selling energy drinks.

In return, the universal appeal of sports continues to provide significant benefits to corporate sponsors, both in terms of exposure and how well consumers regard a brand’s involvement. According to Nielsen’s 2022 Global Sports Marketing report, sports activations are doing more than just increasing brand awareness; they are also building client loyalty to sports-inclined brands leading to higher conversion rates due to an increase in sponsorships in the post-pandemic era and a high level of trust among fans regarding sponsorships.

Closer home, Kenya’s marathon great, Eliud Kipchoge is an example of how corporate involvement in sports can contribute to history making achievements. Remember the Ineos 1:59 challenge in 2019? Eliud Kipchoge, with the sponsorship backing of Ineos – a global chemical company, proved that no human is limited when he became the first human being in history to run a marathon in under two hours.

Kipchoge’s story is one that demonstrates the hard work and discipline that athletes must put in, in order to run their races successfully. He trains twice a day, six days a week – Monday to Saturday – with the aim of running between 200 to 218 kilometres every week.

There is a unique passion and excitement from the sheer tenacity and resilience of our athletes on the world stage that captures the hearts and minds of fans across the globe. It is the perfect description of Africanacity – the distinct Africanability to beat the odds to achieve great feats!

The Magical Kenya Open and the Kip Keino Classic Athletics that Absa Bank Kenya are actively involved in as a presenting partner and title sponsor respectively, have evolved into global events attracting the world’s best to Kenya. The two events are now part of a global sports calendar of events. The Kip Keino Classic is today a top- ranking track and field event part of the Continental Tour Gold Series by World Athletics, making it one of the highly anticipated events on the global athletics calendar.

Absa Bank Kenya PLC last week sponsored the fourth edition of the Kip Keino Classic Continental Gold Tour slated for Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani in Nairobi to a tune of Sh 60 Million. PHOTO/ ABSA BANK KENYA PLC

This year, Kenya, as the global home of athletics, is expected to attract a host of local and elite track and field athletes who will flex their muscles for their prize money and improve their world rankings when the one-day international goes down at the Moi Sports Centre at Kasarani. Thanks to stars such as Evans Chebet, Ferdinand Omanyala, and Mary Moraa, who have shone the spotlight on Kenya with their dazzling athletic prowess, this year’s fourth edition is billed to be bigger and better.

To make an event of this scale which involves complex coordination a major success, logistic and financial muscle, the power of sponsorships has come to the fore. On the back of this, Absa has once again come in as a title sponsor for the 2023 Absa Kip Keino Classic with a sponsorship package of Sh60 million to support the successful preparations and execution of the event.

From a brand perspective, the return on investment is attractive from high media coverage, high attendance, and engaged social media following the tournament provides a valuable platform for building brand awareness, enhancing reputation, and driving engagement with consumers. In turn, this is what prompts corporates to invest funds with the promise of greater awareness, positive perception and consideration of their brands as they watch the day’s spectacle.

For Absa, one of the reasons we do this is because athletics, more than any other sport, has continued to put Kenya on the world map in a big way and we want to be part of this success story. Furthermore, our sponsorship is inspired by the tenacious spirit of our local athletes who serve as a constant reminder that we should never give up despite all the obstacles that come our way.

To fully develop Kenya’s sports industry, sports administrators and corporate players need to adopt a paradigm shift and work to establish win-win partnerships that increase sports’ contribution to national development. This is especially true given that well-coordinated partnerships have the potential to bring together resources, expertise, and much-needed funding.

As a brand, we remain committed to supporting the success of the local sports scene and the vision to transform Kenya into a global sporting powerhouse.

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