Moving Ethically: how sports partnerships play a key role in sustainability

Climate change is continuing to impact the world. Athletes and sports-related brands have great influence in today's digital world, with their messages being shared widely and adopted by their followers and fans. Sport can play a key role in helping shape how fans understand sustainability issues and measures they can introduce. Being sustainable helps the environment but there are plenty of business motivated reasons to do so as well.

Earlier this year, the BBC in collaboration with the Sport Positive Summit launched the ‘BBC Green Sports Awards’ to help incentivise athletes, clubs, and organisations to be more proactive about combatting climate change in sport [1]. This award helps raise awareness for those in sport who are making a difference, which in turn builds a positive brand reputation, helping attract a larger fan base. This can also have financial benefits, with Nielson predicting an 11% revenue growth over the next three to five years for rights holders with sustainability agenda – this prediction aligns with consumers, as globally half of the younger generation have stated they are more inclined to brands that act ethically [2].

With attention and interest growing in sustainability, there is no question brands should be incorporating this into their overall business strategy.

One way brands have done this in recent years is through their partnerships. In 2020, Liverpool Football Club partnered up with meat substitute brand, Quorn, to play their part in food sustainability [3] and in 2021, Adidas partnered up with sustainable shoe and clothing brand, Allbirds, to create an ultralight running shoe with our lowest carbon footprint to date [4].

These strategically chosen partnerships help boost the brand's image and purpose in the eyes of the consumer, and there are significant benefits to this. A recent study by Zeno [5] found that when consumers think a brand has a strong purpose, they are: 

  • 4 times more likely to purchase from the company 
  • 6 times more likely to protect the company in the event of a misstep or public criticism 
  • 4.5 times more likely to champion the company and recommend it to friends and family 
  • 4.1 times more likely to trust the company 

Despite this, it is important to note that acting ethically alone won’t automatically bring benefits. Communication and distribution are integral; with a focus on getting content in front of the right audiences. Forbes Insights [6] found that 71% of companies with revenues exceeding $10 billion have divulged they place significant value on effectively reaching the right audience as the principal value of their digital advertising campaigns. So, it is clear to see, that for brands to reap the rewards of acting sustainably, raising awareness of the initiatives amongst the right audience is vital. Failing to complete this step, limits the overall impact of those initiatives [7].

This is where Story10 can help. With our unique global distribution network of owned and earned channels, we can put your relevant, authentic content in front of engaged audiences on any platform, in any region, in real-time.

Many brands have successfully worked with us to get their sustainability message in front of engaged global audiences across a range of sports categories including sailing, golf, soccer, motorsport, and many more.

Working with SailGP, we were able to push content from their sustainability initiative, Impact League, to over 377 different media organisations worldwide. SailGP’s Impact League, is a world-first initiative making sustainability essential to the fabric of sport and aiming to accelerate the transition to clean energy, by tracking the positive actions teams make to reduce their overall carbon footprint. We also worked with Extreme E amplifying their content to over 65 different markets worldwide, raising awareness of racing environments that have been detrimentally affected by climate change.

Find out more about how Story10 can help drive your brand's success by contacting us today.



[1] BBC Sport, 2022. BBC launches first Green Sport Awards. [online] BBC Sport. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 September 2022].

[2] Nielson, 2021. Brands Aren't Sitting On the Sidelines: The Social Solidarity of Sports Sponsorships | Nielsen. [online] Nielsen. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 September 2022].

[3] Quorn, 2020. Liverpool Football Club Food Sustainability Partnership | Quorn. [online] Quorn. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 September 2022].

[4] Allbirds, 2021. The Lowest Carbon Footprint Shoe Ever | Adidas x Allbirds. [online] Allbirds UK. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 September 2022].

[5] Zeno, 2020. 2020 ZENO STRENGTH OF PURPOSE STUDY. Zeno. <>

[6] Forbes Insights, 2022. REACHING THE RIGHT AUDIENCE, HOW BRANDS ARE USING AUDIENCE TARGETING IN DIGITAL ADVERTISING. [ebook] p.7. Available at: <> [Accessed 28 September 2022].

[7] Long, M., 2022. Sport For Good Playbook part three: How brands use storytelling to drive awareness and action. [online] Sports Pro Media. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 September 2022]