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Scharapan: respond to demands of emerging markets

9 March 2012

Major rights-holders who have strong portfolios of commercial partners from emerging markets now need to react to the demands of each territory according to Laurent Scharapan, Chief of the Advisory Group at Innocean Worldwide Europe.

“With organisations like FIFA, the question is how to go to the next step with regards to brand positioning,” said the former CEO of Sportfive International in the session The new frontier: globalisation of brand sponsors on the third day of the Global Sports Forum Barcelona 2012.

“How do you respond to each market’s needs? And how do you work with rights-holders to find the best way to not promote the brand anymore, but the products? That’s the challenge.”

Thierry Weil, Marketing Director at FIFA, explained how world football’s governing body has signed up several top-tier partners from emerging markets over the last decade and added that each has had significant benefits on both sides of the sponsorship divide.

« Hyundai Kia has been with FIFA for the last 10 years – and they came to our event when nobody really knew them, signing a contract at the very highest level as a branding exercise, » said Weil. “What has it brought to us? An expansion of the game in Asia…football is a global game but we have been able to promote it in a different sense and with a company such as Hyundai Kia as a partner it brings it to another level.

“But our mix [of sponsors] is a healthy one…most of the time when new sponsors come in they are in new product categories which opens the scope of our potential sponsors.”

Sophie Goldschmidt, Chief Commercial Officer at the English Rugby Football Union (RFU), explained that English rugby union is looking to rugby sevens to grow its brand in emerging markets: “We have not had many brands from emerging markets partner with us in the past; Emirates have, but given the growth of rugby sevens, that will change. We are not focused on just being an English property.

“With rugby union 15s has been around for a long time but it is focused on a smaller number of markets. Rugby sevens is everywhere and that is really going to be our vehicle to go into new markets. It’s easier to understand and we are positioning it differently…even if you are a sport that is established in the market you can’t be complacent and you need to be creative with your partners.”

The panel discussion was moderation by Craig Thompson, former CEO of the 34th America’s Cup and also featured Mark Tatum (Executive Vice-President of Global Marketing Partnerships, NBA) and Andy Anson (CEO of Kitbag).

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