Sports sponsorship is a huge, growing, unstoppable even (one might be tempted to think) industry. The global market is expected to reach UK£35 billion in 2019 and there is hardly a sports team that doesn’t feature one or more brands on its t-shirts for example. I only half-jokingly suspect that in the struggle to fit in as many brands as possible soccer players might soon be required to play in long-sleeve shirts and to wear hats. Is this rush towards sports sponsorship justified? Do we know if it brings results? I can’t really say if it helps sports fans in any way and I think it’s clear that it helps the teams by giving them a revenue boost.

Does it help marketers? Science says it does, especially if 1. the brand is seen as relevant to the specific sport 2. if the brand and the team share the same geographic roots. A survey recently published in the American Journal of Marketing examines a third factor and shows a way for brands to increase ROI from sponsorship even further.

How can brands do that? By adopting the team’s colours as brand colours – if the team’s kit is red, the brand should go for red; if it’s blue – with blue. The authors investigate whether ‘visual congruence’ between a brand’s and a team’s colours improves fans attitudes towards the sponsorship and increases purchase intention for the brand. And as it turns out, it does. If a brand changes its colours to match the team ones, attitudes towards the sponsorship are more positive and fans perceive the brand as more authentic. In more concrete terms, a brand changing its colours gets a 16% increase in brand purchase intention. Now we know.

Makes me wonder what impact does the opposite situation has, i.e. when the team changes its colours to match its sponsor’s ones. Stay tunned for more insights on how the things we don’t recall seeing shape who we are.

My best wishes for a great day ahead and remember – everything communicates, everything impacts.

* Based on: The Color of Support: The Effect of Sponsor–Team Visual Congruence on Sponsorship Performance; Conor M. Henderson, Marc Mazodier, and Aparna Sundar; published in Journal of Marketing, Volume 83, Issue 3

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