28/04/2011 - 00:00

Sophisticated strategies suit the games we play

28/04/2011 - 00:00

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THE on-field (and off-field) dramas of the high-profile football codes may dominate the mainstream media’s attention, but there continues to be community and business support for mass-participation sports such as netball, surfing and tennis.

Sophisticated strategies suit the games we play

THE on-field (and off-field) dramas of the high-profile football codes may dominate the mainstream media’s attention, but there continues to be community and business support for mass-participation sports such as netball, surfing and tennis.

According to the most recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 65 per cent of children and 44 per cent of people over the age of 15 in Western Australia play organised sport.

The list of the top 10 participated sports included swimming, golf, tennis, netball and basketball.

While they enjoy high participation rates, on a local level these sports don’t often make it on the back page of the newspaper or lead the TV sports news.They do, however, all get a slice of the sponsorship pie.

For example, Netball WA gets a share of Netball Australia’s national sponsorship pool from sponsors such as ANZ and Telstra.

Netball WA marketing manager James Young said the Telstra sponsorship deal was about more than putting logos on shirts and signs in stadiums.

“They’re making sure that the people who are involved with netball appreciate that Telstra is involved,” he said.

The telecommunication giant gets involved with its target market by coordinating giveaways and taking photographs of spectators at games and sending them to their phones, which encourages fans to embrace Telstra’s technology and reminds supporters of the telco’s involvement with the game.

“They’re probably one of the most sophisticated sponsors I’ve ever worked with,” Mr Young said.

He said netball had an advantage over some other sports because the television coverage of the sport at its top level helped entice sponsors.

“That’s fantastic because we can quantify what we supply to our sponsors; we can look at signage and the amount of time that’s on screen and actually put a dollar figure on that,” Mr Young said.

He added that the gender-specific nature of netball helped the association gain sponsorship because it gave potential sponsors a guaranteed target market.

Surfing WA CEO Mark Lane said the GFC hadn’t deterred sponsors from supporting the grass-roots and community level surfing programs.

“Sponsors found us far more attractive in those times than they do when there’s millions and millions of dollars around; they tend to go for more advanced strategies,” Mr Lane said.

“So we actually found that it probably worked in our favour.”

Surfing WA runs a series of surfing events throughout the year, with the Margaret River Pro held this month being the most recent.

Mr Lane said sponsorship strategies lasted all year round to ensure the money trickled down from professional to amateur levels.

“Through talking to all our event partners, through both government and commercial sponsorship arrangements, they were all happy once they understood ... what we were trying to do they were more than happy to invest,” he said.

Mr Lane said it was important the organisation upheld its end of the deal in ensuring the return for the sponsors, aiming for a five-to-one return through media and promotional value.

“They view that as a lucrative sponsorship in their terms,” he said.

“We probably go close to producing a three-to-one dollar return to the economy as well.”

“People are stimulated to travel to the event, they’re buying food and fuel along the way, they’re staying in accommodation in Margaret River, they’re spending their money in the town and in the community.”

Government sponsorship also plays a large role in supporting amateur sport. Healthway is a government-funded organisation set up by the Tobacco Control Act to provide sponsorships to organisations that promote a healthy message.

In order to receive greater funding from Healthway, Netball WA agreed to not make sponsorship deals with alcohol or fast food companies.

The internet and social media have rapidly developed into important tools for gaining sponsorship.

Mr Lane said surfing had been broadcast online for more than a decade as a way to circumvent its lack of mainstream TV exposure.

“As surfers you need to regularly check the internet for weather patterns and swell patterns and stuff like that so I suppose many surfers are used to doing it, so that’s an obvious medium for us to use,” he said.

Mr Lane said the webcasting of last year’s Margaret River Pro received 44,000 unique visitors on the biggest day.

As a result, Surfing WA invested in the broadcasting of the Margaret River Pro this year, with seven cameras, roaming commentary and a boat camera.

 

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