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From sponsorship to events : what companies gain by betting on sport!

Sport is both universal and unifying. It's a great internal management tool and a highly effective medium for external communication. And right now sport is in.

Many top-level directors are well-known for playing regular sport and as a passionate golfer, baseballer, horse rider and polo player, Walt Disney was no exception! Over the last few years, managers and communications directors have been following Walt's example, with sport playing a growing role within many different companies. At Disneyland® Paris, Cast Members can choose from a wide selection of internal sports programmes and equipment, allowing them to pursue their favourite sport in the work place. From large conglomerates to smaller brands, managers and directors have been increasingly turning to different sports to help develop their strategies and circulate them among their employees. A recent study carried out by the Harvard Business Review took a closer look at this trend, highlighting the correlation between sport, leadership and success. And this popular move towards sport has been increasingly resonating within the events communication industry: a recent French government lead study revealed that the sporting events market is looking healthier than ever (worth $145.3 billion in 2015 – PwC). At the same time, fun runs have become hugely popular.

Sporting activities promote internal cohesion

From fun workshops, outdoor training session and team tournaments, companies have been more regularly turning to sport to help their employees form a bond. Sport and its inherent values (commitment, sharing, team spirit) provide companies with a backdrop for building a corporate vocabulary, as well as a useful tool for training and development.

Whether it be a fun run or a tournament, companies have been noticeably organising more sporting events to compliment their seminars and conventions. The aim of these gatherings often involves drawing on the physical and mental skills of employees to foster internal cohesion.  The events often leave staff with a sense of pride and attachment to the company, which may see them taking a step up in their career or seeking to acquire new skills. In a study, 63% of men and 52% of women revealed that their team's success in a company tournament had an impact on their approach to work (Hudson). The same study revealed that 47% of women and 40% of men thought this success had a positive impact on their productivity. So sport clearly has a positive effect on behaviour within the company.

Sporting events as a way of circulating the company strategy

Associating your brand with sport's positive and emotional values (effort, team spirit, loyalty, momentum, health, respect, friendship, etc.) allows the company to develop its corporate message around the fundamental approach that lies at its core. Over recent years, sponsorship – the act of associating your brand with a sporting event – has become much more widespread, with sponsors achieving a 4.7% European market share in 2016 (JEG Chicago) equating to $15.9 million ($60.2 billion worldwide - Les Echos Business).

It involves every sport that attracts a large audience, from handball and football to basketball. Major championships are targeted for sponsorship, including the professional handball championship, football's Ligue 1, and the league that brings together the top French basketball teams (the Lidl Star Ligue, the Ligue 1 Conforama and the Disneyland Paris Leader’s Cup, respectively). Associating the company's name with a major sporting event can help broaden its audience base and win over new, more specific or family-oriented spectators. Many stadiums have been renamed over recent years, including the Matmut Atlantique in Bordeaux, the Orange Vélodrome in Marseille and the Allianz Riviera in Nice. 

For companies seeking more efficient business skills and productivity, sport offers a wealth of appropriate symbols and metaphors to draw on both internally and externally. For us, as events communication specialists, sport presents the perfect medium for accessing a highly valuable market and enhancing our service repertoire.


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