Thursday, 17 May 2012

The untold story of Olympic sponsorship

Underneath the optimistic portrayal of sponsorship in the media lies the true effect that sponsorship plays on Olympic athletes.


Some athletes we have spoken to have said they have felt "as if they (their sponsor Adidas) didn't care) so we have to ask - does the Olympic sponsorship system really care for its athletes?

Launch of the team GB kit: Photo from Adidas press
Big sponsors and brands are popping up everywhere in the run up to the London 2012 Olympic games and people are becoming more familiarised with big named athletes, but what about the athletes you don't hear about?




Globally athletes are being used to push mass consumerism, with sports brand giant Adidas being quoted in the Telegraph and on the Economic Times websites as saying:






"If they don't win, then you've had some value out of them in the run-up"


During our investigation we have uncovered and discussed several athletes who lack sponsorship and their personal experiences. From this research and our own exclusive interview we have been able to break down the PR image pushed forward by sponsors and see the untold story.

In our interview we bought you the exclusive story of our anonymous source whose athletic career and personal life was destroyed by their sponsor. 

Our contact describes their tragic ordeal with their sponsor Adidas. 

When Adidas took this athletes accommodation, training equipment and money they were left bankrupt and desperate and haven't been able to return to athletics since.

We have repeatedly attempted to contact Adidas regarding our investigation but we have yet to receive a response.

Are they avoiding our questions or just avoiding the issue completely? Their delay on responding to our questioning is definitely something to be noted. In our previous investigation Adidas responded to another exclusive interview stating:

 “...our company and how we respect our clients. Our sponsorship deals are freely available if the public request, like most companies we have an exclusivity term within our contract. However we do not feel this deters clients from their role within the sporting field they represent, we are merely assisting and aiding their profile.”

Our investigation has not only highlighted this exclusive case but several other cases such as James Ellington and Warington who although successful Olympians have struggled to get sponsored and be able to compete in the games.

In the run up to the 2012 games approximately 1,800 athletes were dropped by the WCPP according to Brian Brady of the Independent. Statistically funding is going up but so is the amount of athletes being neglected.

Is this neglect down to just sponsors or the entire Olympic sponsorship system?

Breaking down official documentation provided by LOCOG and the IOC it has become increasingly clear that the systems provides limited restrictions to athletes with high gain rewards to the companies behind the scenes. 

Any rise in popularity, athletic achievement or notoriety ultimately benefits the system foremost. Our recent post exploring the legal side of sponsorship discusses the advertising compliance law and its effect on athletes. 

The cases we have investigated experience problems from a variety of different areas of sponsorships and sponsors which highlights the developing flaws in the system.

Athletes are starting to slip through the cracks of Olympic sponsorship leaving them vulnerable and neglected. Unfortunately these athletes are becoming another set of statistics and more and more cases continue to grow.

History of Adidas


What's the history behind Adidas? A global brand name, which has gone on to employ over 42,540 people worldwide. This organisation began in Germany in 1924 and was founded by Adolf Dassler, which is where the company got its name Adidas.
Since those early humble years, the company has gone on to become the largest sportswear manufacturer in Europe and the second largest in the world. With last years profits of £567million and the companies total assets rising to £10,638 billion.
But it Adidas still that pure and humble company, just wanting to produce the best. Or has it gone on to be a force within the market, stopping at nothing to become such a worldwide name?
In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Adidas spent over £70 million in sponsorship. This figure caused outrage in the sporting industry that this one company should be allowed to input such a high level of investment. There sales increased significantly like they do in most worldwide events they sponsor.
There sponsorship within the 1996 Olympics has still proved to see one of their best returns to date. With 6,000 athletes seen with that famous 'three stripes' logo over the duration of the games. 220 medals with Adidas kit being worn, as well as 70 of those medals taking centre stage display on he podium by placing gold in that competition. This incredible victory saw sales for the company increase by an astonishing 50%.
Just like most Olympic years, the friction between Adidas and its main rival Nike is heating up for the start of London 2012. Tensions are high as Adidas are an 'Official Olympic sponsor' for the games on behalf of the British Olympic Association. Therefore they have negotiated on their contract that all winners on the podium will wear the official London 2012 kit, which is emblazoned with the Adidas name and logo.
This is despite individual’s athlete’s sponsorship deals from companies such as Puma and more vocally Nike. Who should the athlete represent, their sponsor or the team’s sponsor? This question is causing a lot of debate between athletes, their sponsors and the British Olympic Association. What is being questioned is the fairness that athletes have to make the choice to either break their contracts and wear the Team GB kit, or stand by their morals and support their individual private sponsor. Nike is now arguing that competitors should wear their private sponsors shoes on the podium and the rest of the Team GB kit to go with it, therefore striking an agreement. However Adidas has put millions into securing this deal from the BOA and so feels they should get monopoly on what the athletes should wear.
With only a few weeks left before the games, does London really want this added controversy?
On top of this, new reports have also emerged on the conditions of employees by Adidas in third world countries such as India. Although they claim that these factories do not produce the official London 2012 kit, it has not been confirmed whether they produce other Adidas clothing endorsed by their sponsored athletes. It was reported that staff got paid as little as 74 pence a day, which when you compare to million pound profits seems extremely tightfisted for the company wanting to be the best in the world.
Former cabinet minister, Tessa Jowell, is backing an investigation named the “War on Want”. It was unveiled that some staff in Bangledesh got paid as small a wage as 9 pence an hour and underwent abuse, both physical and mental during working hours. They also had to work compulsory overtime and many staff were beaten if they refused. These actions strongly contradict Bangladeshi labor laws and investigations are now taking place in some factories.

Olympic diver facing end of his career

One Olympic diver is facing potentially dropping out of full time training this year due to a lack of funding and budget reforms within his discipline.
Olympic diving medalist Waterfield has been faced with an ultimatum, to place in this years London 2012 or get a full time job and train in his own spare time.
He recently got dropped from his role as an athlete monitor for youth teams, as well as having his lottery funding reduced since undergoing shoulder surgery after the Beijing Olympics in 2008. With London 2012 just a matter of weeks away he could not risk failure by getting a job now and miss out on vital training.
So to see him through, his wife has taken up a second job as a carer in the evenings, as well as working in the NHS during the day. All this is so they can keep up with mortgage costs as well as providing for their two children, both under ten.
This poses the question then, why do some athletes in this years Olympics have overwhelming funding and support, whilst others are seemingly struggling to survive?
At the moment many channels are cashing in on the London 2012 games, they are using the faces of well known British athletes to help endorse their products with a return of publicity and money for those athletes. Some adverts on screens at the moment include the likes of Jessica Ennis, Usain Bolt and Waterfield's diving team mate, Tom Daley. They are all barely out of the papers and social media sites. So how come they are securing such lucrative investments and not mature professionals such as Waterfield....
Well the one thing that clearly stands out is age, Daley and Ennis are both young, fresh faced, attractive athletes. Whereas Waterfield is 30 and in the sporting world, basically set for retirement.
In a world where every year counts, it appears to be that companies lose interest in older sportsmen after a certain time. Unless you cashed in on your youth and talent and made a household name for yourself, once you get too old you will sadly go on the pile of other forgotten athletes....
Although, it is rather sad that we live in a world where no one can support our British Olympic hopefuls unless 'Olay' or 'Coca-cola' tell us to. It would be nice for someone in the media to give this guy a chance to show us he is still the amazing athlete who has won so many medals for this country.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Birchfield Harriers ask for help to sponsor athletes


Birchfield Harriers in Birmingham have made athlete sponsorship costs known to the public on their site, asking for help to ensure a handful of athletes receive some form of sponsorship.

The club don’t receive funding from UK Athletics or the National Lottery, but instead rely on membership fees and sponsors to run the club.

They have detailed the different ways in which you can sponsor the athletes in a shopping list format.

Costs have been made public on the site: Copyright Birchfield Harriers

“The cost of being a full time athlete does not come cheap”.

The club is currently sponsored by major company Nike amongst others, however with the lack of financial funding for its athletes the club have turned to the Internet in hope that others are willing to help their talent athletes.

Many of the athletes featured on the site receive no funding and are forced to finance their career through part-time jobs.

Those interested in sponsoring an athlete will be able to meet the athlete and watch them train at a sponsors event.

Not as expensive as majors, sponsorship costs are still steep ranging from the cost of kits to massages. 



Olympic athletes face social media restrictions

Social Media Overlap, a photo by Intersection Consulting on Flickr.
 
Olympics athletes are being restricted from social media during the Olympics but is this just another demand as a sponsored athlete?

Olympic giants LOCOG have teamed up with social media site Twitter to implement social media restrictions in attempt to combat ambush marketing.


LOCOG stated that it is:


"Keen to prevent non-sponsors from using the event as a marketing opportunity at the expense of official Olympic brands." (Econsultancy)


These preventative methods appeared in light of sports brand Nike utilising hash tag campaigns and Olympic stars in a new promotional campaign.


Screen capture from Official IOC documentation (screen captured by Editor)

Digesting official IOC documentation it is clear to see that the guidelines laid out are highly regimented and aren't in place to protect the athlete but the official Olympic sponsors and the Olympic image.


In the history of Twitter and Athletes cases the monitoring implemented by the IOC has been used forcefully. In the case of Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice her postings on Twitter had detrimental consequences on her career.


As reported in Australian news website news.com.au in 2010:


"Stephanie Rice has been dumped by sponsor Jaguar Australia for blurting the "other" f-bomb - the incendiary gay slur - on Twitter" (featured news story)


This resulted in this athlete losing her sponsors and has not competed on an Olympic level since.


These restrictions have been debated furiously online on StarDestoyer.net, in this specific discussion members discuss Olympians being banned from blogging and this information is received negatively with members quoting


"So how does this affect an athlete who may have a personal contract to report or write about what they personally see and do at the Olympics?"


What it comes down to is the power of major Olympic companies, sponsors and social media. Olympic athletes have to conform to strict guidelines just to be able to compete, even though these guidelines are completely beneficial to the individuals behind the games. 


As restrictions get tighter and more and more online communities such as StarDestroyer are engaging with these rules the Olympic image is being tainted.

Athletes who underperform lose sponsorship

What happens if athletes under perform? Well according to Brian Brady of the Independent 1,800 Olympic hopefuls were kicked off a funding program after falling below personal standards.

The World Class Performance Programme (WCPP) guarantees athletes up to £55,000 to cover training costs in the run-up to the London 2012 Games.

However the WCPP withdrew 1,800 athletes after they fell below their set personal performance standards.

Athletes pulled from the program have to now either gain private sponsorship or work part time to keep their Olympic dreams alive.

After having his annual £20,000 funding removed 4x400m runner Richard Buck said: "It's a huge disappointment. I had improved and won international medals". The athlete is now stacking shelves in Tesco to fund his training.

While some athletes lost funding through retirement, many have lost their funding because of injury or because they have been judged as underachieving.

Funding

Between 2009-2013 the funding given to help athlete training has sky rocketed to £264 million, however the increased budget has meant instead of being able to help more athletes fund their training, the demand for better training performances out ruled this.


Chart created with Chart go

The chart looks at the changes made to athlete training funds between the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and the London 2012 Olympic Games. 

However the budget given to fun 34 Olympic and Paralympic sports in the 2012 games is £50 million short of the amount originally considered. This means that 12 sports have been considered as medal "no hopers" and have received virtually no funding.
The Pros and Cons of sponsorship in local level Boxing

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

How sponsors can help athletes

UK Sport have issued a document titled "Get Sponsored" which targets athletes who are aiming to reach the World Class Pathway, and guides athletes through the sponsorship process.

How can sponsors help athletes?


Money is often an issue when it comes to sponsorship, however there are many different ways in which a sponsor can help support their athletes.



The table shows the different ways in which sponsors can help athletes, it leaves the question are these forms of help more crucial than a lump sum?

Athlete sponsorship - the legal side

Under the advertising compliance law, agency Reed Smith have released a guideline that sponsors can follow when it comes to marketing campaigns surrounding the London Games.

In 2006 the Government alongside the International Olympic Committee passed the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act, which together with the Olympic Symbol Act of 1995, offers protection to the Games and their sponsors.

The British Olympic Association has informed the 560 UK athletes that they must sign a confidential rule book, titled the 'Team Members Agreement' failure to do so could result in disqualification from the Games.

The law surrounding athlete sponsorship is very complex and failure to comply with these rules can ultimately see athletes banned from performing in the Games. During the Olympic Games a team of 'branding police' will be checking venues to ensure that manufacturers logos are removed or hidden during the Games.

Kit

A strict clean venue policy has been enforced by the International Olympic Committee, which means that sponsored athletes are not permitted to wear branded sports kits which carry logos other than that of the official kit sponsor.

For example during the 2012 Games an athlete sponsored by Nike will not be allowed to wear their branded clothing, instead they must only wear Adidas whilst in the arena.

Athletes are banned from wearing any item that carries individual sponsored logos during the Olympic trials, events and pre or post race interviews.

If an athlete is found to be in breach of the IOC's rules, they can then ban athletes from participating in the 2012 Games.

Appearance

Athletes have been place under a strict code surrounding tattoos, haircuts, piercings or contact lenses. These must not issue commercial or political messages.

Any athlete who has existing tattoos that the board believe make political statements must be covered up.

Endorsements

Athletes have been placed under strict rules when it comes to mentioning brand names. Restrictions are in place to stop athletes being seen or mention sponsors such as Nike, Puma and Cola - as these are not official sponsors.

Under the rules of the competition, competing athletes are not permitted to endorse products during the period of the games.

However if an athlete is chosen to endorse products or services for a company, then these advertisements must be published either before or after the Games - and not during the Games.

Any competing athlete found to appear in adverts during the period of the Games may be banned from participating.

However this is one exception to this rule: well known former athletes. Those who are not competing are allowed to be featured during this time.

For example athletes like Dame Kelly Holmes.

Although no association should be made to the Games during these adverts otherwise this is an infringement of the London Olympic Association Rights.

Social Media


A social media and blogging policy has been created to help athletes understand the restrictions on blogging.


During the Games period (18 July - 15 August) athletes are not permitted to blog about sponsors or endorsed products, unless it's an official sponsor.

For example Usain Bolt will not be able to Tweet about drinking Pepsi (as Coca Cola is the main drinks sponsor)

Audio and video content from the athletes' village and any Olympic venue is banned from being uploaded to the Internet.

Athletes are banned from reporting on competition or comment on the activities of other athletes.

Press


Athletes are banned from attending any press conferences that have not ben arranged by Olympic organisers wearing official kit or medals.

Non-Sponsors


Sponsors who are not official Games sponsors are not allowed to advertise slogans such as:

"Supporting our athletes at the 2012 Games!"
"Help us make it a Gold 2012"

Companies are not allowed to use images that suggest an association with the London Olympics

As part of a promotion non-sponsored companies are not allowed to offer tickets.

A website has been set up in order for both organisers and athletes to report any ambush activities they may encounter. OlympicGamesMonitoring.com has ben set up, however it is inaccessible to the public and unauthorised users.

To protect sponsors brands and broadcasting rights, these strict rules will affect every athlete and business in the UK.

Top Twitter accounts to Follow surrounding the Olympics

If you want more insight and news in to the London 2012 Olympics and Sponsorships, here are useful Twitter accounts you can follow:


Around the Olympics Twitter Accounts:


Olympic Sponsorship Twitter Accounts: 
Follow us on Twitter

Monday, 14 May 2012

Athlete Personal Awards

Athletes under sponsorship from the National Lottery are entitled to apply for a personal award - the Athlete Personal Award (APA). This award serves as a means of helping to pay for athletes living and sporting costs.

Successful athletes are then compared to a number of criteria's - including the level at which an athlete is capable of performing - before receiving their award.

Podium athletes are then separated into three performance bands:


  • Band A - Applies to athletes who have won medals at Olympic of World Championship level
  • Band B - Athletes who finish in the top 8 at Olympic or World level competition
  • Band C - Athletes who are likely to be major championship performers, but flexibility is given so that individual sports can set their own criteria. 
Depending on the band that athletes are placed into directly affects the amount of money they will receive as part of the reward.

  • Band A athletes - £27,737
  • Band B athletes - £20,804
  • Band C athletes - £13,869
This system was first introduced in 1994 to allow a new stream of funding to support the UK's most talented athletes in their attempts to compete and win in the Olympics. 

The reward system begins on the 1st April and runs for four years following the Olympic cycle. 

Funding from the National Lottery

Over the past few years The National Lottery have been responsible for the funding of certain athletes. Funded athletes are given world class support in preparation for the London 2012 Olympics and beyond.

Since the funding began the National Lottery have been able to help talented Olympic and Paralympic athletes land 438 medals.

The National Lottery funding gives athlete three levels of funding:


  • World Class Podium - this type of funding and support is given to potential 2012 Olympic medal hopefuls. 
  • World Class Development - funding and support is given to athletes with the potential to be competitive at the 2012 Olympics. 
  • World Class Talent - this targets athletes who have the potential to win international medals by 2014.
Support given to Podium athletes is set to be worth around £55,000 per athlete, and depending on the sport athletes working at the Development stage are estimated to receive funding worth £30,000. 

In addition to this all athletes in the company's sponsorship program are entitled to apply for a personal award - Athlete Personal Award - This award is paid directly to the athletes and contributes to the athletes living and sporting costs. 

All athletes sponsored by the National Lottery receive support from:
  • Coaching
  • Training and competition support
  • Medical and scientific services
  • Access to the best facilities in the UK
Lottery funding also contributes to living costs as they understand that athletes who want to succeed in the market need to make full time commitments to their chosen sport. 

Funding schemes run from December 1st to the end of November yearly, this allows UK Athletics to undergo assessments on athletes, which review both current funded athletes and potential new athletes. 

Athletes are assessed using an Athlete Performance Template (APT) which is used to measure a wide range of factors which contribute towards being a successful Olympian. 

In previous years the template has looked at the ability to perform under pressure and whether athletes are able to perform and compete in this years London games. 

In 2008 the National Lottery funded 33 athletes at podium level, however in preparation for this years games the company have doubled the amount of athletes sponsored at this level to 68. 

However overall the National Lottery back over 1,200 athletes from various sports and are supported by professional players to help reach their ultimate goal.


breakdown of funded athletes, pie chart has been created using Chart go

"I almost felt as if they didn't notice or care"

An exclusive interview shows the hidden stories of a sponsorship with Adidas.


Being an athlete isn't easy, its long days working on your discipline, grueling hours of training to remain at your peak, constant drugs testing and striking that balance between diet and lifestyle. So to many, securing a lucrative sponsorship deal takes a massive weight off your shoulders, enabling you to focus on your one goal of winning. 


But what happens when that deal goes sour? I met up with someone whose life has been turned around by these tying sponsorship contracts. They have shared with me their first hand experience of what it is actually like when that multinational corporation turns against you. And now, they are ready to tell the rest of the world just how easily these companies can make you or break you. 

The meeting began quite awkwardly, it is obvious that this subject is one that she doesnt like to talk about much. She admitted to myself that it's a subject she says away from, I get a feeling that this interview will help her get over her fears and there could be a lot hidden which I didn't previously realise. 
To many of you would empathise, knowing that if someone has been a victim of a past event they may not want to relive it, like many, my source is scared of the repercussions that talking to me may have on her life now. "it upsets me, that was my past and if things went well it would of also been my present and future. Sadly I messed that up, nothing can be changed now, I have learnt the extremely hard way."

Her saying this has left me wanting to know, what exactly happened with her sponsorship deal. She was with a high profile company and as we get talking over a coffee, which seems to have relaxed her a bit, I begin to find out what exactly happened with her sponsor. 

She was touted at a young age, having been a keen runner she progressed early on into regional and district competitions. However her true potential was during national qualifiers in which she cleared each round with ease and managed to place in the finals of her race. "At the end of my race some people came up to me and said they would love the opportunity to sponsor me to train and become professional." Naturally, like any athlete she spoke to her family and running coach and accepted the deal, "it was something I loved to do, the thought of getting paid for it was just too good to turn down."

I began to wonder how this could all go wrong for her, she was set up with a five year contract, brand new sports kit to wear when training and competing, as well as free accommodation and a wage of £2,500 to just run once in a while.  

"When things are going great, you forget you are still tied to a contract." 
This one sentence said a thousand words. My source had disobeyed the rules set out in a binding contract by her sponsor. Now all I was interested in, is what she did to break them.

She was selected by her national placings to go forward and compete at a European qualifier. She was with other British runners who she had got to know and befirend over many years competing with them, some of the runners had sponsors like my source did, however some were still desperately looking for one, "having a sponsor just adds to that sense of security for you." 

However is having a sponsor all that great? My source reveals how friends she knew got to wear whatever kit they liked at the time and what they thought best enhanced their performance. Having a sponsor could potentially prevent you from being your best, if you se tied to their products it may not be as good as other makes are.

One of her friends was living that free sponsor-less life we are talking about, she was very close to our source and they had known each other through running for many years. At this one race she was wearing a competitors trainers, "I really liked them on her, we are the same shoe size so asked if she would mind me trying them on." After doing a few warm up laps in them it was obvious that these trainers were more comfortable on her and she felt she would be better performing in these rather than her own branded ones. Her friend had a second pair of the trainers on her so let her wear those ones to race in, even though her contract stated she should wear only her brand at competitions. I was up against European champions so didn't think I was going to win or even place so didn't see the problem. "I will be out next round so who cares" I thought to myself. 

However, she was actually running a a better pace than usual and kept getting through to the next rounds. "I was elated I didn't even notice what I was wearing I just couldn't believe I kept winning!" When she made it into the final 12 she was too focused on winning that she didn't want to ruin her chances by changing back to her proper running trainers. She didn't win that competition, but she did place in the top three, which meant she had to stand on the winners podium with a case of 'the wrong trainers'. Her picture got into a few newspapers, she looked stunning with a toned body and her sponsors branding all over her, it all would of been perfect if it wasn't for the bright red running trainers with a competitors branding on her feet rather than her paid branding. 

When the pictures went to press the next morning, her feeling of elation at placing so highly in this competition was gone. Sponsorship all about that winning race, by sponsoring someone you are backing a winner. When that athlete crosses the line they are meant to encompass a winner, wearing the clothes of a winner, so when consumers see the images they see how you should dress to be the best in this discipline. Her friend had also won in her races, the papers cashed in on both of the girls wearing the same shoes, it was basically free advertising to the other brand.

It was inevitable that she would soon be contacted by her company. They took a few days to approach her, "maybe I was such a good deal for them that they didn't care?" But in fact that was not the case. They called her up and asked her to come to their offices the next morning at 10am. She had no idea what she was about to expect, "in hindsight, I wish I bought a lawyer in with me or something."

She went into a conference room with ten suited and booted people all sat round a big table clearly waiting for her, using her given feminine charm she wore a tight blue office style dress and push up bra, if she didn't have a lawyer she may as well use what she had got. Although a few of the men stared, clearly impressed at her effort, she knew once the top dog begin to speak that those efforts were in vain.

They informed my source that she had violated her terms of agreement by advertising a competitors brand. They had various sales figures of how the competitors running shoes had increased in sales by a certain percentage within the period of time since the race and how she was responsible for that figure. They highlighted profit areas on products she was endorsing which were low. Her contract was ended with immediate effect and sadly she was then sued for breaking the clearly outlined clauses on her contract. On top of this she was also ordered to pay the company back for losses, she lost her flat which they had provided her for and provide back rent for the time in which she was living there. "All I could keep were my running clothes that had been used, all other stuff had to be returned."

In total she ended up having to find over £170,000 for them. Which she clearly did not have available "and they knew that". She had to move back to her home town with her parents and ended up getting a job at a supermarket because she had no qualifications. Sadly, after many months of struggling to pay back what she owed she ended up with no choice but to declare herself bankrupt. "I only managed to pay them about £15,000 they dropped the case and just basically left me to be penniless."

She began to feel lost and yearning for her old life of living in high class London and running for her wage. She fell into a state of depression, spent days at a time in bed, just watching the world go by whilst she stayed still. However, that running passion in her finally stirred again ad she knew she should get back up on her feet, "I went to college as a mature student and got some qualifications". She became a carer and begin to earn a decent wage in a job she enjoyed. After a few months she then began running again, "at first just as exercise and then I joined a local running club." It was hear that her life finally changed for the good, as she met a guy who was part of the running club. They began dating and quickly knew it was meant to be so moved in together. She didn't keep her past from him though, he knew all about her bankruptcy and issues with the company. "I don't have long left on it now and once that goes, that will be the end of my old life and my new one can now finally begin."

What I find touching about this is how through all her hardship she has still remained strong, even at telling me this story, clearly it upset her but she thought about the good things which have come out from it. She will never be happy at how things went wrong for her, but at least she has learnt to accept them.

"I see people in the Olympics now and feel that could of been me, but my silver lining is my fiancé, if things hadn't of messed up I would never of met him, in a way I am better for it. I miss my running but I do it now for enjoyment rather than making a living. Now a days I am a carer, I love my job, my home and my fiancé.... People don't know about my past because that felt like a different me, I have changed now and I believe it is for the better..."

I would like to thank my source for agreeing to tell her story at how being sponsored by such a multi-national company can alter your life in so many ways. For some these deals are brilliant and a chance at a future in a sport they love, but you must always remember those who have had to suffer a lifetime for one small mistake. These companies are not forgiving, they may forget you like they have with our source, but they are ultimately the only winners within sport.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Unsponsored Boxer VS Sponsored Boxer

‘I’ve sold my bike and my I-pod before to get new boots and a new gum shield’. Callum Morman, a 14 year old boxer from Telford, Shropshire discusses the drastic measures he has to face to fund his boxing career. Due to not having a sponsor. 

 

Callum Morman, 14 and Joe McAllister, 18 both have been attending Donnington boxing club and have been close team mates for several years. Despite the parallels, between the two boxers there are major contrasts between been a sponsored boxer and been an unsponsored boxer in this highly competitive sport. Whilst living local to the club Callum explains how he sometimes finds it difficult to make it to boxing lessons.


'The early sessions start at 5 but I have my paper round at 4.30 so sometimes I don't get it done in time. Which means I miss the lesson! The paper round is to pay for my membership, and my gloves and gum shield, when I'm sparring.'

Callum draws on to some of the comparisons between the 'Sponsored' and the 'Unsponsored', in the world of boxing. 'People with sponsors are able to train more often than non sponsored boxers. Everything is paid for them and they don't need a job'. 

Team mater McAllister is fortunate to have a sponsorship with a local plumbing company to cover all his boxing expenses. But Callum shares the harsher struggles he has to cover his costs.
'When I can't afford to get boots or head guards I sell things so I've got the money. I've sold my bike and my I-pod before to get new boots and a new gum shield... It's something I have to do when I haven't got any money, If I didn't do it. I wouldn't get any better at boxing.' 
Joe previously explained the psychological benefits of having a sponsor.
‘Having a sponsor sends out a message out that you’re a worthy boxer. It also sends out a big message to your opponent and having that little psychological edge, is exactly what your looking for before a fight’.
Callum uses the psychological edge of his opponent been sponsored to his advantage, for his motivation and drive to succeed in the fight.

‘Whenever one of us is going into a fight and we know were against a sponsored fighter there’s always banter going on. We all want to beat the guy who’s sponsored because then it shows were good enough to be sponsored, its great for motivation’ .

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Who do Nike Sponsor?

Nike is the largest sports supplier in the world, in 2008 the company spent a massive $235 million on direct sponsorship. With this figure in mind it is important to look at how many athletes the company sponsor.

(source: Charlee Greenhalgh)


It is evident when compared to athletes sponsored by Adidas, that both companies have chosen to endorse footballers heavily, and play an important role in the sponsorship process for players. 


Monday, 7 May 2012

Who do Adidas sponsor?

Adidas is a major international sports sponsor, with its sponsorship budgets on the rise, it's important to look at how many athletes Adidas currently sponsor.

(Source: Charlee Greenhalgh)

The infograph shows that Adidas currently sponsor a wide range of athletes from across the globe, however these results show that their sponsorship of athletes heavily fall within that of rugby and football.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Olympic Athlete Sponsors

Following the spreadsheet which focuses on the sponsors for a selection of this years athletes, check out the graph I have created to make this information clearer.

(source Charlee Greenhalgh)

As expected the big sponsor names such as Adidas, Nike, Aviva, BMW, British Gas and Speedo are amongst the companies sponsoring more athletes in comparison to smaller companies.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

How endorsements are helping top female athletes to cash in


In his article for the Daily Mail, Alex Miller claims that the marketability of Britain’s top female athletes prior to the 2012 games, has allowed them to negotiate endorsement pay rises, and also the chance to take on additional sponsors.

He states that:

“The highest profile female British athletes typically take on up to four major endorsements, each worth up to £150,000 a year”.

Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton, Jenna Randall, Keri-Anne Payne and Laura Bechtolsheimer have been able to cash in on the games by substantially increasing their incomes. 


Each of these have noticed a major increase in their salaries from endorsements. The table below looks at the difference between their 2011 income and their 2012 income. 


(source: Charlee Greenhalgh)

This table compares the female athletes and looks at their sponsors, and how they have changed in the last 12 months. 

(source: Charlee Greenhalgh)


Jessica Ennis

Jessica's sponsorship deals with Powerade, Aviva, BP and Olay are estimated to be worth around £150,000 each. 

Her contact with Aviva requires her to only work six days a year, so that her training schedule remains untouched. 

Her kit sponsorship deal with Adidas is thought to be the biggest deal for a Team GB athlete, the deal is estimated to be worth around £320,000 including performance related add-ons. 

Victoria Pendleton

In the last twelve months Victoria Pendleton has been able to take on three new sponsors, which has allowed her income to increase by 50 per cent. 

Her lucrative sponsorship deal with Hovis is estimated to be worth around £150,000 - the deal involved TV, print and on-pack promotions. 

Keri-Anne Payne

Keri-Anne Payne's new sponsorship deal with Max Factor is set to be worth around £70,000 a year. 

This year female sponsorships have been significantly increasing, and these five women are set to become some of the highest paid athletes in the run up to the 2012 games.

How does online media help athletes gain a sponsor?

Unknown or lesser known athletes are finding it increasingly difficult to find sponsorship, so I looked at how the world of online media can help.

A brave technique was used by the athlete James Ellington in an attempt to gain sponsorship as he opted to "sell himself on ebay" in December last year.

This was widely criticized as a pr stunt in order to gain recognition by the sprinter, but a pr stunt that worked in this case.

The runner said that he's wear the kit of the highest bidder on as many opportunities as possible running up to the Olympic games.

The bid raised to a respectable £32,500 on the popular internet bidding site but it turned out to be a hoax. Speculation accumulated that the highest bid was by Ellington's PR team so that he became more known and gained a sponsor through more respectable or 'genuine' ways.

Again, this tactic worked as Ellington gained sponsorship with "King of Shaves". (source)



But what about those who are seeking sponsorship but don't want to use such controversial techniques?

There are some websites that attempt to help you find sponsorship, such as findasponsor , sponsor121 and UKsponsorship, however these sites focus on sponsorship in many areas, not just Olympic.

Then we have to look at more professional formats like linkedin  and twitter so that athletes seeking sponsorship can branch out contacts and find potential sponsors through social networking.


In conclusion, online media can help lesser or unknown athletes to find sponsorship, but only when used in conjunction with other techniques.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Virgin Media bolts ahead with ambush marketing campaign








Are Virgin Media's new Usain Bolt adverts a mere coincidence or Olympic ambush marketing?


On the official London 2012 website, under FAQ's Olympic organisation LOCOG stated that:


"We are obliged to prevent other companies undertaking unauthorised activities that undermine or devalue the exclusive rights we offer our sponsors and licensees."


By looking at these official statements about brand protection and ambush marketing it is clear that LOCOG is out to protect the multi-million pound image created and also to crack down on any potential advertising threats. 


By digging around the news and also official documentation it is evident that LOCOG hasn't currently taken any action against Virgin Media for this set of advertisements, but why is this? 


Virgin Money Giving's office, by HowardLake on Flickr.
It's interesting to look at this situation by focusing of the athletic star Usain Bolt and also many other track athletes as Virgin were the official sponsor of the recent London Marathon that many talented athletes took part in. 


Could it be that Usain Bolt and other track athletes are too important to the Games that LOCOG wouldn't want to challenge this particular marketing campaign purely to protect the athletes and a maintain a positive out look on the Games as a whole? 


In an article featured on generatesponsorship the author stated that:


"In order for Virgin Media to really capitalise on the association depends on what they do with it over and up to the Games.  If they deepen the association (maybe tie up with events, grass roots or other athletes), broaden it (customer engagement, loyalty, PR, experiential stunts, corporate hospitality, employee engagement etc) they have a real opportunity to steal the limelight and benefits of BT’s official Olympic association."


So the question is, is this technically ambush marketing or just well timed endorsements and mere coincidence? 

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Types of UK Sponsorship

The UK's sport sponsorship market is valued at around £400 million according to UK Sport.

Types of sponsorship:

There are different forms of sponsorships that athletes can receive, some companies choose to dress athletes head to toe in gear whereas others will provide athletes a place to train during the run up to the Olympics.


(source: Charlee Greenhalgh)


Shirt / Team Sponsorship:
Shirt and team sponsorships are the most common form, and are mainly used in sports such as football. For example Samsung Mobile sponsor Chelsea FC

Squad Sponsorship:
Squad sponsorships are common during the Olympics, examples of this include: Aviva and the UK Athletics Team

Athlete Sponsorship:
Athlete sponsorships are when a brand chooses an athlete to sponsor, which includes providing them with branded kit and training. For example Nike sponsor Wayne Rooney.

Event Sponsorship:
Event sponsorship is used when events such as football matches are sponsored by companies, for example the
Barclays Premiership.

Venue / Stadium Sponsorship:
Venue and Stadium sponsorship is when specific buildings are sponsored by companies, and example of this is the
O2 Arena

Broadcast Sponsorship:
Broadcast sponsorship is when sponsors cover an event that is broadcast on media platforms. For example Heineken sponsor
ITV's Rugby World Cup coverage

Small Athlete Sponsorship Deal:
Small athlete sponsorships deals tend to help athletes on a smaller scale compared to athlete sponsorships. Deals can sometimes include places to train or kit to help them. For example a small sponsorship deal could be a hockey player receiving four free sticks a year.  

Monday, 23 April 2012

What lengths will Olympic athletes go to to be sponsored?





With the Olympic budget spiralling out of control the sponsorship system continues to fail struggling athletes in the run up to the 2012 Olympic Games. 


Through this lack of support athletes are turning to drastic ways to compete equally with other athletes and obtain sponsors. The example of Olympic runner James Ellington highlights the real struggle within the athletic community and the failure of the sponsorship system.


Olympic sponsorship is a form of survival for most athletes, especially those who compete in non-paying events such as the Olympic Games. Sponsorship can cover the cost of living and training for amateur athletes in several different forms including private, corporate, and team ownership.

According to findasponsor.com 
“Olympic sponsorships contribute more than 40% of Olympic income” and with the Olympics fast approaching sponsorship deals for athletes are becoming more sought after. One athlete who took his search for an Olympic sponsor to the next level is UK Olympic runner James Ellington who after struggling to find a sponsor put himself on Ebay in a last ditch attempt to secure a sponsorship deal.

Although Ellington managed to secure a place on team GB without any kind of kit endorsements or sponsorship he still was desperate for commercial sponsorship so he could be able to compete to his best potential.  Ellington revealed in a recent BBC interview (see the hyperlink for a link to their article and a video of his televised interview)

In this interview Ellington discusses how Olympic funding doesn’t filter down, in some cases, where it’s needed most, leaving talented athletes struggling to compete but supports “Pin athletes”.  It is transparent that the budget favours the more recognisable athletes such as Usain Bolt and also the Games’ reputation e.g. the opening ceremony.

But why is this? Ellington’s story highlights where the current Olympic sponsorship system and budget fails to support individual athletes. In a recent report the Daily Mail breaks down elements of the Olympic budget and states that the budget is currently 10 times what was previously predicted in 2005. The report states that 


"The predicted cost of the games when London won the bid in 2005 was £2.37billion. That figure has now spiralled to more than £12billion and could reach as much as £24billion, the Sky Sports investigation claims...This figure includes the build of the venues and the £600million police and security budget. The government has just allocated an extra £41million (with a £7million contingency) from this budget to LOCOG to pay for the Opening Ceremony, which is set to cost £81million total"

Reading through this article you can see that a lot of money has been allocated to the Olympic legacy, stadiums and legalities but there is no mention of support for the athletes themselves or any sponsorship allocations.

It is becoming increasingly clearer that athletes have to take sponsorship matters into their own hands and attempt to get their own sponsorship deals. With all the previous gold medal winners and recognisable faces getting the easy ride athletes who have previously struggled with injury or are less well known are getting left at the side lines. Ellington managed to secure a sponsorship deal with a shaving company but will all struggling athletes have to take such extreme measures, and should they have to? Shouldn’t the Olympic budget, organisations such as LOCOG and sponsorship system prioritise our athletes?