Sports Sponsorship: More sex please, we're sponsors

BRITISH SPORTSWOMEN need to exploit their sex appeal to make their sports more attractive to sponsors, according to government-funded research published yesterday.

"Sportswomen may have to play the `sex appeal' card to attract more media coverage and therefore more sponsorship," concludes a report by the Sports Sponsorship Advisory Service, an organisation funded by Sport England (formerly the Sports Council) which set out to discover how "middle market" sports like hockey, gymnastics and show jumping can attract greater financial backing.

"Currently 82 per cent of companies are not actively interested in looking for sponsorship of women because male sport generates far greater coverage and attendances," says the report, which reflects the attitudes towards sports sponsorship of 200 of the country's largest blue-chip companies.

"It should be done tastefully," Simon Scott, the manager of the SSAS, said, of how governing bodies can "sex-up" their disciplines. "We're not telling [them] to move away from promoting the sports themselves, but sport is entertainment. It's an industry. The game is part of that, but you need to look at the bigger picture. David Beckham is a brilliant football player but that's not the only reason he attracts attention. His sex appeal is part of what is attractive." He added that the heptathlete, Denise Lewis, is as likely to appear on front pages as back pages, as is the tennis player, Anna Kournikova. Both women have raised the profile and earning power of their sports.

"As much as sex appeal, per se, it's about glamorisation and making the most of what you've got. Hockey, for example, should promote the better looking players, emphasise its personalities," Scott said.

Of the pounds 353m spent each year in this country by companies sponsoring sport, around 90 per cent goes to Formula 1 motor racing, football, cricket, rugby, tennis, athletics and golf. These "big" sports attract that sponsorship money because their governing bodies are in tune with what sponsors want (media coverage, especially television, primarily to raise brand awareness) and can deliver it. The vast majority of other sports struggle for money.

"These include gymnastics, hockey, rowing, volleyball, badminton, canoeing, squash, fencing, mountaineering, equestrian events, table tennis and sailing," Scott said. These had huge numbers of people participating, he added, but governing bodies had failed to make them attractive as mainstream media fodder.

Cynics might suggest that some sports are simply too dull to attract big sponsors, but Scott said that education and marketing are all-important. "Netball can have all the excitement of one-touch football, be fast and athletic. But you need the media interest," he explained.

The best example of a sport transforming itself in recent years, Scott said, was rugby league, which transformed to a summer game when it realised it could not compete with football. Such wholesale metamorphoses are one way that other sports might remake themselves, he added.

The SSAS will now host a series of workshops for sports administrators. "All sports have strengths that would appeal, somewhere," the report says, "although an increasing level of creativity will need to be employed." This, Scott said, might mean appointing marketing specialists.

So, what of the chances of bikini show jumping and beach table tennis in the future? "We're saying: `Look at your assets and make the most of them'," Scott said. "It's what companies want."

BRITISH FIRMS' ATTITUDES TO SPORT

82 per cent do not actively search for sponsorship opportunities in women's sport.

57 per cent said more "sex appeal" in women's sport might increase commercial success.

85 per cent said they prefer men's sport because it gets better media coverage.

63 per cent said they prefer men's sport because attendances are higher.

60 per cent said more attention will be paid to women's sport in the next 10 years.

67 per cent said that sponsorship is an integral part of the marketing.

65 per cent said "image enhancement" is the main reason for sponsoring sport.

87 per cent said their objectives were understood by sports organisations.

63 per cent want to be an event's sole sponsor.

57 per cent believe "middle market" sports (such as hockey and gymnastics) find it difficult to attract sponsorship due to poor media coverage.

Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own