Today, more than 90% of CEOs say that sustainability is a fundamental component for success and 88% of business school students think that environmental and social issues are priorities in business. With sustainability top of the agenda for many businesses, sport is being seen more and more as a relevant platform in which businesses can showcase their sustainability credentials.
Sport and sustainability credentials
Partnerships with sports properties have evolved from advertising, hospitality and content engagement opportunities. The new goal for sports marketing partnerships are opportunities to shift consumer habits which affect the future of the world we live in. Mallory Group's recent engagements include a number of examples where rights holders, both teams and events, are now providing a platform for awareness and engagement that, yes carry business return, but also truly showcase sustainability. They are presenting an opportunity for brands to 'do' rather than 'tell'.
Case Study: Sport marketing & behaviour change
In recent months the Volvo Ocean Race sought to tackle the growing problem of marine litter through a partnership with the UN Environment and the promotion of its Clean Seas agenda, leveraging this campaign through the activation of a boat competing in the race – named Turn the Tide on Plastic. Other examples from brands such as Sky (Sky Ocean Rescue) and 11thHour Racing, and related partner charities and foundations, have been able to leverage a relevant global sporting platform to drive behavioural change. Whilst there is still a long way to go, both in and around the Volvo Ocean Race community, it has been enlightening to see how a vast array of stakeholders have begun to reject single-use plastics.
The FIA Formula E circuit is another example of a relatively new sponsorship property that puts this sustainable positioning at the heart of its commercial proposition - ‘boosting sustainable innovations for the cities of tomorrow’. Whilst Formula E is still evolving its competitive offering and growing its appeal and fan base, it’s already a ‘must have’ for the majority of OEMs – Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes, Nissan, Porsche - who realise they need to future-proof their businesses, showcasing the electrification of their vehicles. This is critical to the future of these businesses. According to Nielsen's 2015 Global Corporate Sustainability Report,
66% of consumers would spend more on a product if it came from a sustainable brand.
There are numerous other examples of sporting events and teams becoming ‘eco-friendly’ and as the importance of environmental and social issues grow for businesses, sustainable solutions are now becoming a key criterion for brands who wish to become involved in sport. It will soon become the norm, not the exception, for rights holders looking to secure long-term partnerships.
Away from sport, ‘The Future Starts Here’ exhibition currently on at the V&A Museum is a fascinating experience - ‘100 projects shaping the world of tomorrow’. The main sponsor for the event, the Volkswagen Group, rationalise their partnership of the event as follows:
“In aiming to become a world-leading provider of sustainable mobility and driver of digital transformation, we know that innovation needs inspiration.”
Innovation needs inspiration: a mantra we’ll see more of in the sports world.
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