Coronavirus and sport: How sponsors should handle the turbulence upending the 2020 calendar
Amidst all this uncertainty and chaos around coronavirus and sport, here are four tips for emerging the other side relatively unscathed.
1. Plan for the worst
As these outcomes accelerate exponentially, the question for sponsors has changed from “will my event be affected” to “how will it be affected”. Even if the organisers don’t issue a change (increasingly unlikely by the day), some fans or attendees will simply choose not to go.
The first action is to embrace a ‘worst-case scenario’ mindset and start planning counter-scenarios and activities now. This should start with itemising all event-related sponsorships and prioritising them by a combination of date and size (across attendees and broadcast).
Then marketers should factor in the practicality of what can be done in relation to each event, such as how responsive/fluid a rights holder partner is (both organisationally and from a talent perspective). It makes sense to prioritise slow-turning cargo ships over more nimble speedboats, so to speak.
Speed is of the essence in relation to coronavirus and sport; it’s all about minimising the negative impact. Sponsors should now have a priority list for attention. They may have to sacrifice attention at some over others and know that taking a hit is inevitable.
Notice that I haven’t mentioned contract assessment as an immediate activity (see points three and four).
2. Fill the void and soften the blow
I’ve always believed the best sponsorships in terms of impacting fan attitudes (and ultimately, behaviour) is through adding value or being useful. So, in a way, this situation is a perfect tee-up for sponsors to fill a hole if the event goes ahead but fans can’t (or won’t) attend. In fact, counter-acting this disappointment arguably offers sponsors more opportunity to generate goodwill with fans than if the event goes ahead as normal.
The full article on the issue of coronavirus and sport is available here on Warc.