Leveraging power of sports to grow business brands

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021 00:17 | By
Neddy Atieno celebrates after scoring at a past Harambee Starlets match. Photo/PD/SPORTPICHA

By Graham Villiers-Tuthill 

Sports is a social phenomenon that connects all kinds of people. Almost everyone has a particular sport or team they are rooted in. The value of sports in the promotion of business brands cannot, therefore, be overstated.

Sports has for years played a major role in the business industry by presenting huge target audiences for brands to connect with customers. It has proven to be one of the best means of getting businesses and products noticed and it is, without a doubt, a very effective marketing tool. It gives companies an opportunity to tap into the passion that consumers have for sports to promote their brands. 

The value of sports to brands comes from the fact that it attracts many people, meaning that without fans, businesses find it difficult to support sporting activities. We have seen this during this Covid-19 pandemic which has forced sporting activities to be held without fans with others being cancelled. 

With no live events and no fans, it means many sponsors lack the foundation on which to activate their marketing, fan engagement and all other activities associated with the rights and assets they have acquired. This has, therefore, seen many corporations reluctant to support sporting events and teams. 

However, this should not be the case. The lack of fans in stadiums does not mean that sports has lost its value to corporate businesses. As mentioned, many people have a strong passion for sport. It, therefore, matters less whether they follow their favourite sports, teams and sport stars  physically in stadiums or remotely at home. 

In the digital age, fans can easily follow their favourite sport and teams remotely as well as they would while in the stadium. In fact, many sporting events and teams have more fans who follow them through social media and TV than those who watch them live in stadiums. 

For instance, according to Brandwatch, English Premier League games have an audience of 4.7 billion viewers spread across 212 territories of coverage around the world, making it one of the most followed sporting events in the world. Similarly, the Olympic Games continue to be one of the biggest sporting events thanks to its global viewership. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the 2008 Beijing Olympics drew the largest television audience in the history of the Games, with 4.7 billion people across the globe tuning in. The 2016 Rio Olympics attracted a viewership of 3.2 billion. 

This simply shows that sports remains a valuable avenue that corporates can leverage on even during such a period when fans are not physically available in stadiums. This, however, is not to downplay the importance of fans’ physical presence. Physical presence is not only important to the game itself, but to corporate sponsors. One-on-one interactions between fans and brands or products is of immense value. 

It is on this basis that Kenya Breweries Limited continues to value sports as a means of connecting with its customers. KBL has a rich history of supporting sports and has been involved in various sports disciplines over the years. 

Just recently, KBL, through the Tusker brand, was an official partner of Team Kenya during the Tokyo Olympics following a sponsorship of Sh45 million.  KBL continues to support the Tusker Football Club and is among the key sponsors of several football competitions including the Kenya Premier League. 

The company also has a strong footprint in rugby where it offers  support to teams and events  including the National teams and clubs. The same goes for golf where it has continued to offer support to golfers and events such as the Magical Kenya Open and the Kenya Safari Series.

No doubt, sports has been key to the success of many KBL brands over the years. In view of this, KBL will continue to offer support to sports as a mutually beneficial avenue for the company and the various sports disciplines.

—The writer is the Marketing and Innovation Director, East African Breweries Limited

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