Has the sponsorship market been (completely) changed by the digital revolution?


How do major advertisers investing in sports embed digital activations? Supporting many big names in the French economy in their sports partnership strategies, including Société Générale, AXA and TotalEnergies, the agency Publicis Sport is at the forefront of measuring the impact of digital on the sponsorship market. Publicis Sport Co-Chairs Pascal Crifo and Guillaume Cossou present their analysis of the importance placed on digital activations in the animation of partnerships in an interview with Ecofoot.

Are you seeing a growing interest in digital activations in the animation of advertisers’ sponsorship partnerships?

Most advertisers who invest a significant amount in sponsorship have achieved real maturity in the running of their partnerships. Traditional visibility media such as areas in official uniforms or LED signage remain important issues in discussions with rights holders, but they are fully understood and integrated by market players. They are aware of its impact and have a grasp of the image and notoriety metrics to measure to evaluate the effectiveness of such media.

However, in the sponsorship partnership negotiations, the digital power of the right holder and the possibilities of activation in digital channels have been mentioned before and before. Because advertisers are interested in operations that inspire the loyalty of their fan community. These same advertisers often have a higher media maturity than sports organizations. They create rigorous marketing and communication strategies in their daily lives and know how digital has become central to the lives of their target audiences and communities.

“Sports organizations operate in one sector. high emotional value. They manage to achieve a very high level of engagement on social platforms.”

Pascal Crifo – Co-President – ​​Publicis Sport

Digital brings together two main assets in the animation of a sponsorship partnership. First, the range of possibilities in terms of communication and activations is very wide. However, it is much more difficult to be creative with traditional supports such as panels. The second important concept is commitment. Sports organizations operate in a sector with high emotional value. Provided that they get out of corporate communication, they manage to achieve a very high level of participation on social platforms. Moreover, a sports brand lives far beyond its own ecosystem: Kylian Mbappé’s extension to PSG is a perfect example of this, and over 90% of conversations on social platforms are generated outside of club accounts, non-Parisian or non-player. A sports brand has the power to interact with its fan community more easily than any other company. Advertisers can then leverage the digital power of sponsored sports organizations by creating campaigns that generate fan support as they engage with them.

Many companies from the web and emerging technologies – Uber Eats, Deliveroo, Gorillas, Socios.com, Cazoo… – have invested in sponsorship in recent months. Are these brands setting new standards for facilitating partnerships in sports? Are these the sources of the increase in brands’ interest in digital activations?

Has the sponsorship market been (completely) changed by the digital revolution?