Advertising on sporting media may well be more expensive but, says sports fanatic Chris Botha, it is not just about money. Sports marketing and media is big business in South Africa and, for that matter, all over the world.
Every year billions are spent on sponsoring sporting events and sporting personalities, creating associations with teams and clubs, and, in some cases, merely being seen in and around the environment. In addition, even more billions are spent in leveraging and amplifying the sponsorship beyond top-and-tail, and three pretty girls in company T-shirts and mini-skirts at the event.
Locally, we know brands gladly pay a heavy premium to advertise during their favourite sporting event.
But, here is the other thing about sporting content: if you want to be associated, there is often a hefty premium for the advertiser to pay, and do you get the return on that investment?
Audiences are pretty big… sometimes. An example of this was one of the biggest rugby matches of 2012 on SuperSport when the Springboks played against the All Blacks. The game was watched by 695 000 viewers. To put this audience in perspective: an average episode of Carte Blanche has 500 000 viewers.
How much did a 30-second spot in this rugby match cost? R120 000. And the spot during Carte Blanche? R60 000. The rugby match is nearly 50% more expensive, with only 35% more audience.
And then there is the ‘in-stadium’ advertising and branding. A billboard next to a rugby field very often costs the same as a significantly bigger board on a highway, with the highway board delivering a far greater audience. And can I ask – perhaps controversially – how many of the in-stadium adverts can you recall?
So why is it that marketers and advertisers pay such a massive excess for sports-related marketing?
It is because sport is what I like to call a ‘passion platform’.
Every year people kill each other in the name of sport. Fathers and sons have stopped speaking to each other over matters such a Liverpool or Manchester United. Nowhere else in the universe do men, women and children get the opportunity to shout, scream, paint their faces, laugh, cry, stress, and generally behave like barbarians than at a sports match.
Some of my most vivid, lucid, and amazing memories include sport. Sport has a way of burning itself deep into your very being – and with it – the brands associated with it. Just think of how many people still know it as ‘Rothmans July Handicap’ or ‘Benson & Hedges Night Cricket’.
In the era of ‘media by numbers’, we have seen a decline in sport sponsorships. This is for many reasons: over-supply, the world economy, consumer apathy, the real cost of leveraging association, a glut of other opportunities and costs escalating to the exorbitant. So, all over the world, prudent marketers are looking for the financial return on sports marketing. But they are forgetting the one immeasurable element to it all: PASSION.
When a consumer has passion for something he will practically do anything for it. He will read all about it wherever he can (ever noticed how niche ‘passion magazines’ like Stuff keep growing?). That consumer will spend stupid money (R800 a year on a new Springbok jersey), and ensure that they miss weddings, births, funerals or whatever else you can throw at them if there is a game they want to watch.
But passion is not just limited to sport. Certain people are totally passionate about technology. Just check the queues outside the Apple Store at any time. So are cars, travel and fashion. Passion is why women spend R20 000 on a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes.
I think the global marketing fraternity is at risk of becoming too numbers oriented and too obsessed with measuring the exact return on every last cent spent (I know that saying this is tantamount to blasphemy in certain companies). As marketing people, we should factor passion into our decision-making, into our planning and into our investment. It is impossible to quantify but we all feel it. We all know it.
The sports marketers have capitalised on it for many years now. For them to survive in a world of returns, efficiencies and optimisation will require a mind-shift all round. The death of SA Sports Illustrated should be a loud warning shot. In an era where every decision is made with the bank balance in the front of your mind, we have one heck of task ahead of us to sell tears, sweat, blood and passion. n
Chris Botha is group MD of The MediaShop.