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Story10 joins panel discussion at SportsPro Live

Story10/SNTV Managing Director, James Dobbs, joined Adrian Farina (Visa), Ben Pincus (F1) and Christian Voigt (IOC) as they discussed Sponsorship with Purpose at SportsPro LIVE 2021 on Thursday 29 April 2021.

The discussion focused on how sports properties and brands can align to tell powerful purpose-driven stories, as well as how partnerships raise awareness of important causes and benefit fans.

With a great panel line-up, an intriguing topic and only 45 minutes, it certainly was set up to be an exciting discussion. Below is a summary of the key discussion points:

From topic to meaningful actions 

The discussion started with the panellists talking about the changing relationship of partnerships. Where previously sponsorships might have been more like endorsements with simply an injection of cash or talking about plans, the last 14 months have really accelerated the process of sponsorship partnerships having a real purpose. No longer is it good enough for partnerships to simply be a logo on a shirt or a billboard, there must be real action to help drive important messages and develop the future of the sports they’re sponsoring.   

It’s not a fad

Throughout the discussion, the consensus was that sponsorship partnerships with real purpose were not a fad. There is an ever-growing demand driven by consumers that these partnerships deliver purpose-led content, which helps to highlight important societal issues such as equality, diversity, and unity. All the panel agreed that more work needs to be done so that these important topics are highlighted throughout the year. For example, the issue of equality around the coverage of women’s sport, so that it is not just episodic, but that there is a continuous drive to ensure the coverage and development of these quality sports are formed to their fullest ability between major events such as the Olympics and World Cups.

Generational change 

Another topic of discussion was around how different audiences are engaging with sports content. Currently, Gen Z is the demographic cohort causing a shakeup of the media landscape. It was commented that previously media was always fed to people, whereas now Gen Z has flipped that to become part of the media narrative. Social media has enabled audiences to be vocal about change across various topics such as mental health, diversity and climate change. It was also commented that potentially going forward the format of how events are covered needs to change, moving away from the more traditional ‘broadcast’ routes and towards shining a spotlight on different innovative narratives

Athletes and social media 

The power of sports stars and their social media accounts is undeniable and was touched on by the panel. However social media users are much savvier than before and don’t want to be spoon-fed content. By brands, federations and sponsors working in collaboration with their chosen sports stars to produce authentic on-brand content, they can really harness and amplify the power of their messages to a much wider global audience and increase engagement.

Power of sport 

Another key consideration was around the power of sport. It was noted that sport can be a real force and vehicle for positive change, particularly now that the interests of brands and rightsholders are increasingly aligning with social issues. James commented, “The greatest asset of sport is that it keeps these conversations going, especially those that are needed to be had at a much higher level. For example, the Grand Slams equal pay, or Premier League players taking the knee, these are sports stories, but they are elevated to a societal level, showing sport can be a force for good.” 

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