Parliament in late 2016 passed the Sports Act, and in it there is an emphasis on the increased participation and improved performance in sports as well as enabling Ghana to operate sports in conformity with international standards. This, together with the emergence of new sports agencies and existing ones, committed to making this happen, there hasn’t been a better time to call for an investment in sports by the private sector.
Proper regulation and new trends in sport almost guarantee a handsome ROI for investors. There are professionals who are in touch with these new trends and will leverage them with the local situation to develop the various sports where we have a considerable amount of talent.
The sports sector has been growing steadily and is worth billions globally. In digital sports marketing for instance, in 2001 less than 10% of sporting goods was purchased online. By 2011 it had grown to approximately 33%. By the end of this year it is expected to rise to about 67%.
Corporate partnerships in sports have become relevant due its proven ability to transform local companies to national brands, national companies to regional brands and regional companies into global brands. This is done by making the brand relevant to many people around the world through sport. A typical example is Santander Bank of Spain which has become global through Formula 1 racing. Another example is Vodafone’s relationship with Manchester United in the early 2000s. And as we all know, with sports, there is always a story to be told.
As part of a new communication paradigm, engagement activation plays a key part in sports marketing. Conventional advertising seeks to influence perception (brand awareness and positioning) whereas activation is designed to influence behavior (brand preference and affiliation). With calls to action, and getting people involved, there is a far higher chance of people actually becoming attached to the brand.
An example of a successful activation by a brand is Cruzcampo, who before the 2010 World Cup took a ball from Madrid to Johannesburg on foot. Coca-Cola does something similar with its World Cup Trophy Tour around the world before every FIFA World Cup. Highly engaging activations that give the brands substantial share-of-mind.
Building real relationships between brands and consumers is now done through storytelling. Good stories compel people to change and drive the audience to action. Behaviour can be influenced through corporate partnerships; through activations and storytelling and create strong, emotional links with the audience. Sport provides a good touch point for good stories which will enhance the brands’ image in the eyes of the public.
In this era of digital media, there is a far wider reach of potential targets. With the number of people who watch television regularly in decline, and users of digital media on the rise, the use of sports to tell a great story and reach a large audience can be very useful to companies in Ghana who want to take the step up to the next level, regardless of the size of the brand. On top of all this, it actually helps garner interest in sports too and will help get more people interested in viewing and participating in it.
In a nutshell: SPORTS + DIGITAL MEDIA = THE ULTIMATE SEGMENTATION FORMULA (REACH + RELEVANCE)
I have always wondered why people in high places in business lament about the state of our sports. There are many of them who are key decision makers for their organisations and often look for ways to keep them relevant. My call on them is to really consider sports as an avenue. There is always a story. There is always something to make a brand relevant to sports, and sports relevant to a brand. And with digital media, there is an unimaginable reach if the story is told right.
If there is any time for us to take advantage of these things, it is now, especially now that things seem to have slowed down because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Going forward, in spite of all the setbacks and hardship the pandemic has put us through, let’s make this year the year that we rethink our relationship with sports in Ghana and how it can be of help to sports development. The commercial benefits are endless. It is time.
By Willem Alexander Coleman