Sports Features of Monday, 22 October 2012
Source: Charles Benoni Okine
Mr Bob Marley, one of the most famous reggae music legends of blessed memory once wrote in one of his songs that “In the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty.”
This is particularly the case in the country where in the midst of huge advertising budgets sitting with some blue chip companies, premiership clubs are unable to think outside the box to attract such funds.
It is common knowledge that companies are willing to spend where they find a terrain attractive enough to market their products and services.
For instance, with the biggest outdoor event in the country under the auspices of the MultiMedia Group dubbed “The Old School reunion”, companies virtually fight become title sponsors. The simple reason is that, the event has the potency to attract thousands of people to one place to socialize and therefore, the monotonous way of advertising through the newspapers, billboards and on television and the many common platforms changes.
This has become particularly so because akin to advertising and promotion, corporate sponsorship has become a type of marketing tool being used to break the monotony of having to use the same old way of enticing the public to patronize a product or a service.
According to companies that monitor corporate sponsorship, such as International Events Group (IEG), the trend to attach a company's name to an event or a particular person associated with a popular event is growing all over the world.
For instance, in 1989 companies are reported to have spent $1.4 billion for sponsorships alone. By 1996 it mushroomed to more than $5 billion. In the late 1990s, IEG estimated that more than 6,000 companies participate in some kind of sponsorship and that companies are spending $16.6 billion worldwide on sponsorships. This figure has more than doubled in recent times.
In all these, sports events accounts for almost two-thirds of the sponsorships with soccer taking the chunk.
Advertising messages are always competing to "cut through the clutter" of all the other advertising messages. At the same time consumers report through surveys that they are becoming increasingly annoyed with advertising through the traditional ways, a situation which is also very prevalent in Ghana.
This is where a door of opportunity avails itself in the soccer arena in Ghana for clubs to critically explore to change their fortunes and be able to halt the brain drain by remunerating their players well.
In Egypt for instance, hardly would players in the premier league leave to Europe to ply their trade because they are paid well. This is also possible for the clubs because they are able to attract a chunk of the marketing spend of companies in the country because they have made their game attractive and appealing.
As one enthusiastic sponsorship user puts it, advertising is designed to intrude on a person's life to make them pay attention to the sales message.
Sponsorships try to establish a relationship with that person to become part of the lifestyle rather than interrupt it. And this is why a unique platform such as soccer is one of the best to sponsor.
Main sponsors in Ghana.
For instance, due to the heightened competition in the telecommunications sector in the country, telecom companies in particular are everywhere trying to find the most appropriate platforms to market themselves in their quest to attract more of, or at least entice and maintain their market share.
MTN seem to be the only company that is sponsored a club in the Ghana Premier League in the last season. Globacom is also sponsoring the entire league as title sponsors. Goldfields Ghana is also taking advantage of the form of the Black Stars to support the team, likewise Guinness.
Years back, Vodafone, then OneTouch, sponsored the premier league but had to back out because officials say the company did not derive the value they expected.
What Clubs Must Know
It is crucial for club owners to know that, they can attract companies to sponsor their clubs when the companies are very sure of deriving value from the amount of money they spend.
Value will come from the number of supporters that throng the stadium or follow the club to watch its matches. With their logos embossed on the front and back of the jerseys, the company will be assured of making their products or service popular and visible.
The leading clubs in the country, Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko, both command a total support base of approximately eight million or twice that but due to poor management style and the inward looking nature of some of their board members, the clubs, particularly Hearts of Oak is not attractive as it used to be.
No wonder the club’s own supporters refused to even buy the shares of the club when it was floated on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) barely two years ago.
Ghanaian clubs need to have a good management structure and proper accounts. That can convince the potential sponsors to support the club because they will feel assured of the proper management of the funds.
There should also be player motivation. This is lacking in many clubs, if not all the clubs in the country. Without motivation, the players will be unable to give off their best and cannot win matches to entice their supporters to follow them around.
Gone were those days when buses were made available for supporters of Asante Kotoko to follow their club around the country when they played their opponents in any part of the country.
Since the sponsors rely on the club's supporter-base to make their brands more visible, this is crucial and the clubs must endeavour to do to attract them.
Sponsors want to enjoy media coverage and publicity positively. For this reason, the clubs should also ensure that they do not only win most of their matches to entice their fans and have positive media, but must do things devoid of controversy to protect the brand of the sponsors. When Tiger Woods was caught engaged in ex-marital affairs, big sponsors behind him withdrew because they did not want their brands to be associated with immorality.
Nike among others also withdrew when it was first reported that former basketball legend, Micheal ‘The Magic’ Johnson, was HIV positive.
Role of stakeholders
The government is an important stakeholder in making the clubs attractive to sponsors. The promise of building stadia in each region should be one idea that should be taken on seriously.
It is imperative to note that, by having a stadium for a home team, the supporters will always throng the stadium to watch them play. Once the sponsors see the numbers, they will begin to take interest to sponsor the club.
On the part of the football association, it should be in the position to think outside the box and make local soccer attractive by reducing its over concentration on the senior national team because that is not a mark of success for the FA.
One may ask why thousands throng the stadiums to watch the national team play always. It is because it attracts the best players who play well and win their matches regularly.
And therefore, should the local league also transform, the clubs can attract a chunk of the huge marketing spend of the blue chip companies and the ‘fool will no longer thirst in the abundance of water.