Head Graphic 2
Head Graphic 2

Episode THREE

The Unfair Advantage - Brands and The Power of Sport

Group Shot Ep 3


‘Medals equal memories’: How brands can realise huge growth, ROI and loyalty – if they start their Olympic and Paralympic journey now

Catherine Clark, CEO, Paralympics Australia, urges corporate Australia to support athletes on the journey to Paris through to Brisbane and beyond. Gemba’s Adam Hodge says the ROI and pay-off is huge for brands that get it right – and go all-in early.

Read More

Eight-year runway

Brands now have an eight-year runway to prepare for Brisbane 2032. The smart ones are already on the journey – and will reap the benefits, according to Catherine Clark, CEO, Paralympics Australia.

“It’s the ultimate reality TV,” she says, “the ultimate human storytelling.” And for brands, the Games – and sports sponsorship in general – represent “one of the best ROI options that we have” for building communities.

Latest data from Gemba backs that view, says its Head of Marketing Strategy, Adam Hodge, with massive increases in brand trust as a result of sports sponsorships, which in turn builds brand loyalty.

This is backed up by Nine’s latest Consumer Pulse – Sport research, showing that 1 in 5 of Nine’s audience are more likely to trial or purchase a product if that brand is a sponsor of their favourite sporting team (higher among under-45 year-olds) and 1 in 6 are more likely to trust a company that sponsors their favourite sporting team.

He says brands must walk a fine line between “stepping too far and trying to save the world with a sponsorship, and forgetting that end of a day ‘I've still got to sell cars or soft drinks or shoes.’ What we’re seeing now is that the brands getting the best results are those who are finding the middle ground.”

Toyota template

Authenticity and values alignment is crucial for a successful sponsorship – where the likes of Toyota, says Clark, are setting a template that other brands could lift. 

The carmaker is the mobility partner for the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics – supplying a fleet of electric and hybrid vehicles as well as accessible people-movers, wheelchair e-pullers and three-wheeled electric scooters to help people get around.

It’s showcasing its business beyond cars while providing a genuinely useful service that sits at the core of the Games.

“Many people incorrectly call them our automotive partner,” says Clark. “Yes, they do great cars, but Toyota with the Paralympics, that inclusion and diversity piece, has also created solutions for all kind of mobility aids that can help people – athletes, coaches, support staff who are in wheelchairs – make their way around the village or anywhere around the Games precinct.

“Toyota for me is one of those brands where they have really gone all in.”

That runs through the business – well beyond marketing, she suggests.

“Talking with some of the people who are in and around the Toyota community about how proud they are of their partnership, recalling stories of working with athletes, working with people with disabilities, knowing that they have made a huge impact on their life, that has really sat with me,” she adds.

“Whether we’re talking about the automotive category like Toyota, or to the Nikes, the Lulu Lemons, whatever your product offer is, accessibility is becoming really important so that people can connect and see that you have an offering that suits them from where they are in their life.” 

Emotion wins

The emotional rollercoaster of sport provides huge scope for brands to deliver long-lasting ad effectiveness.

Gemba’s data – the Gemba Creative Score – shows that brands investing in creative relevant to the environment get markedly better results. 

“Over the last 12 months that we’ve been tracking hundreds of ads through sponsorship, we’ve seen between four and six per cent uplift in cut-through for those brands who are creating advertising specifically for the environment,” says Hodge.*

“Five or six per cent might not seem a lot, but when you factor that out over the volume of spend we are talking about, it is a really significant difference.”

Untapped ROI

Beyond the Olympics, Gemba’s data also underlines that women’s sport provides one of the strongest returns for brands – far higher than men’s sports. 

“We did a study at the end of last year, which showed that for every dollar invested into women's sport in Australia you’re seeing a return of $7.29,” says Hodge. “You don't see that anywhere else in the men’s formats. It’s a really great opportunity for those brands that want to come in and make a big change.”

Westpac, he says, is a standout example of a brand walking the talk.

“What Westpac have done with their dollar-for-dollar investment in rugby league across men’s and women’s is the first time a brand has in the contract written down ‘every dollar we spend on the men, we will spend on the women’. The bank is going to audit the rights holder to make sure at the end of the year they show the receipts that they’ve actually done it,” says Hodge.

“That’s going beyond the lip service of putting your logo on the women’s team – and paying them a tenth of what you pay the men.”

Commit now

Clark is asking Australian brands this year to make similar commitments to support Australia’s diverse sporting community – from grassroots all the way to Brisbane 2032 and beyond.

“I really want to see corporate Australia get behind our Olympic and Paralympic teams,” she says, many of which “do it tough from a commercial point of view” and struggle to get from one Olympic cycle to the next.

“I’d love to see our big brands supporting our athletes, getting engaged, celebrating and sharing those stories, becoming part of the Aus squad, and joining us on our journey – because we can’t do it without them.”

Gemba’s Hodge says brands that get on board now will drive long-term growth.

“Aussies love a winner. I think all the predictions for this Olympic squad is that it’s going to be the best since Sydney 2000. Medals equal memories in this country – and those medals will directly translate to results for the brands that are involved,” says Hodge.

“This is really the beginning of the journey to Brisbane 2032, and an Olympics investment is not a small one – you need to be in this for the long term.

“If you’re waiting until the games in ’32 to start talking about your association, you’ve missed 10 years.”

Clark agrees, saying: “We need to prepare ourselves for having the biggest sports party we’ve ever dreamt of.”

*Source: The Impact of Tailored Sponsorship Content/Advertising. Gemba 2022 

Have a question or comment about this episode? We'd love to hear from you. Please fill in the form.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.