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ROI for Automotive Sponsorships

19 March 2018 No Comment

Sponsorships are big investments for automotive companies that believe the ROI on sponsorship is something that can’t be missed. Many manufacturers have shown their fair share of interest in making partnerships with the sporting industry, with an estimated $1.285 billion spent on general sports by the car industry. In the US alone, Volkswagen spends 55% of its sponsorship money on sport. Closer to home, Audi sponsors Bayern Munich football club and Chevrolet sponsors Manchester United. Sport sponsorship is almost tangible. Many automotive executives are collaborating with sporting events and sports clubs around the globe in return for their logos to be etched all over stadiums and apparel worn by recognisable athletes — and they trust that it is helping them sell more cars.

Recent figures revealed that automotive companies are investing 64% of their sponsorship money in sports as opposed to other sectors, such as entertainment, festivals and causes. VW dealership, Vindis, explores how automotive manufacturers across the globe choose who to sponsor.

Volkswagen and the UEFA

Volkswagen landed what could arguably be its biggest sponsorship partnership ever in 2017. The partnership between Volkswagen and the UEFA is official and Volkswagen will now be involved in all UEFA events from 2018 until 2022. Throughout the four-year contract, the UEFA will celebrate its 60th anniversary of the competition, and UEFA EURO 2020 will take place in 13 countries. During this time, Volkswagen will launch its new ID — the e-mobility family — to use from 2020 onwards. A busy four years for both organisations, enhanced by each other’s partnerships.

Partnering with the UEFA has almost guaranteed a significant level of brand awareness and exposure for the brand. Sponsoring such big, well-known sporting events is a real opportunity to push the brand globally.

Speaking about the partnership with UEFA, the CEO of the Volkswagen brand, Dr. Herbet, said: “No other sport is as powerful as football or unites so many people. Furthermore, UEFA EURO 2020, which is being played across the entire continent, is a fantastic project. Our wish is to contribute towards building bridges between all countries and football fans with our mobility and creativity.”

Audi and international football

Audi has also been heavily linked with international football over the years. The German car manufacturer has been partnered with Bayern Munich football club since 2002 — and in 2015, the partnership agreed to extend its contract to June 2025. Audi is rumoured to be paying an estimated €10 million per year for the partnership, but that also includes an 8.8% share in the football club and its logo printed on the kits of the Bayern Munich players.

Closely linked with Spanish La Liga football, Audi has also formed partnerships with Spanish clubs Real Madrid and FC Barcelona over the years. Real Madrid and the German car manufacturer have been vehicle partners since 2003, which allows them to utilise advertising rights with the 33-time Spanish champions, whilst the FC Barcelona partnership has been in existence since 2006, and Barcelona football players, including Lionel Messi, have been driving Audi models ever since.


BMW managed to secure the sponsorship partnership with the golfing event, PGA, for the 17th consecutive year in 2017. BMW has been the title sponsor for the event, and will continue to be for the 2018 championship event, too. The PGA championship tournament is one of the most recognised events in the world of professional golfing and a highlight on the European sporting calendar. BMW’s partnership with the golf event means the brand is featured alongside prestige brand, Rolex, and has been part of the success of many winning professional golfers, such as Seve Ballesteros, Sir Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, and Ian Woosnam.

BMW customers can also take advantage of special perks and rewards that come with the partnership between the automotive company and the golfing event. BMW existing customers have access to exclusive benefits whilst visiting the tournament, including exclusive complimentary onsite parking, access to the BMW Owners’ Lounge where refreshments can be enjoyed whilst keeping up-to-date with ‘on-course’ action via live television coverage, free tea/coffee and water in the Owners’ Lounge, and exclusive access to the 14th grandstand viewing area.

SEAT and the World Superbike Championship

2017 was a big year all round for automotive sponsorships. It also saw SEAT and Dorna WSBK Organisation sign a sponsorship agreement that meant that the SEAT Leon CUPRA became the official safety car at the world’s fastest production based motorcycle event — the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. The Leon CUPRA was perfect for the event, as it appealed to the audience who would appreciate the performance character of the model.

The sponsorship agreement secured a significant level of global exposure for the automotive brand, as the brand was showcased on billboards around world circuits during every round in every country of the championship (13 races in 11 different countries on three continents). Additionally, the safety vehicle will be on the circuit throughout the warm-up lap of every race — an opportunity for the brand to be seen and show what the brand values.

Director of strategy, business development and operations at SEAT Sport, Antonino Labate, commented: “We are very pleased to partner with the Superbike championship with the Leon CUPRA as the official safety car, as it gives us the ideal platform to demonstrate our model’s features and performance.”

Sporting events are huge around the globe with millions of people watching, a reason why many automotive companies believe sport is such a worthwhile investment. In 2013, Infiniti became the title sponsor for Red Bull Racing in Formula One for an estimated $45.5 million a season.

“Formula One runs two-thirds of the year, it has 19 races and is watched by half a billion people around the world,” says Vincent Gillet, vice-president for global marketing at Infiniti. “As a brand which has performance at its core, there are few platforms with which we can showcase that at a global level.”

Sporting seems to overshadow other sponsoring opportunities because of the level of exposure many sporting events guarantees. Football, the Olympics and golf currently acquire half of the automotive sponsorship spend, and with football being the world’s number one sport by a significant amount, it comes as no surprise that football clubs, both national and international, are top of the list for many automotive sponsors. Securing a sponsorship partnership with sports that match brand image and target demographics, as well as acquire rights that provide exposure and activation opportunities in their key markets is crucial to success! And this is why big brands, such as Audi, VW and BMW, use the strategy.








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