Live from the Finance Magnates Virtual Summit 2020: The value of sports partnerships

Live today from the Finance Magnates Virtual Summit, the first panel of the day looks at how brokers can drive ROI from sports sponsorship, and how to adapt to today’s very different conditions

For many retail FX brokerages, methods of gaining offline presence have been channeled in two directions over recent years, the first being the conducting of seminars which involve introducing brokers and strategic partners, the other being sports sponsorship.

Sports sponsorship in many cases has come in the form of either Premier League football or Formula 1 racing – both premium advertising mediums which carry an extremely high price tag.

Today, live from the Finance Magnates Virtual Summit 2020 which takes place between 8.00am and 10.00pm UK time, the first discussion of the day surrounds the value and importance of sports partnerships in online trading.

The panel, moderated by Ben Myers, Head of News at Finance Magnates, features Matt House, CEO of SportQuake, intrepid Cyprus-based marketing epxert Laoura Salveta, Partner and Director of 120Advertising, Australia’s Louis Cooper, CCO at Axi, Marios Challis, CMO of Libertex Group, and Britain’s Jacob Plattner, CEO of Scope Markets.

Beginning the discussion, “Sports sponsorship has come to the fore over the last few months” said Mr Myers. “Is it just a vanity project, or does it offer real ROI?”

Mr Chailis began by saying “Libertex has a long history with sponsorship, we have sponsored Valencia, and Tottenham is our foray into the Premier League. We found that having local sponsorship in our key markets really helps us connect with the local audience, and if the public see that it is a long term partnership, it grows the brand over time. You can really get a lot of momentum going in these markets. For us, it has been great to promote brand awareness.”

Mr Myers asked “Why did it take so long to get into the Premier League?” to which Mr Chailis said “We had to make sure our product and positioning was ready before making such a commitment to Premier League sponsorship. Now that our UK offering is ready, we have signed a multi-year deal with Tottenham Hotspur. We now have plans to establish an office in the UK, gain regulation in the UK and grow our client base there over the next few years. Our sponsorship is a commitment to the UK market, to show that we have ties locally, that we are spending money in investing in the UK.”

Mr Cooper then explained “I will start with a story. AxiTrader has been around for many years, and we have now rebranded, and are now called Axi. We needed a platform for this new brand to grow, live and breathe. For us, the TVC rights and exposure through interview backdrops was a key part of bringing a global foundation for our new brand. We do, however, come from a highly digital background in terms of growth. We have combined this and Manchester City has a web and online presence in our key markets, so being able to partner with a team that understands segmentation, helps us to grow and expand in different markets and different markets. This means that we can measure in real time and can understand the journey that the Manchester City fans are taking. A huge part of this sponsorship was to engage the audience, and to udnerstand via digital segmentation how to grow. It is very much an ROI effort for sure.”

Mr Plattner then added “I think to some degree it is a vanity project in terms of branding. We were a relative newcomer in terms of our brand, therefore partnering with a Premier League team increases profile. We have been an institutional business, therefore partnering with West Ham United means we could use the stadium, invite institutional clients and sign clients that had perhaps been on the fence with regard to dealing with Scope Markets. This summer, we took on a sleeve sponsorship with West Ham United, and when we announced the sponsorship, in terms of building a direct ROI number, I think it is difficult to gauge, but we could see a definite increase in clients.”

“I think it is tough for an acquisition level outside the institutional remit, however we can measure some of the optics from games” he said.

Ms Salveta then explained “For small to medium sized brokers, sports sponsorships really focus on leveraging clients all over SE Asia, South America even by sponsoring a UK team. This is where it directly benefits a brand. It can be difficult to monitor the actual ROI, however.”

“Football is the number 1 sport in the world, and Premier League is the very top level. Credibility is increased by sponsoring these, as it is heavily used by Financial Services generally. You think about Standard Chartered, for example” said Mr House.

Mr Chailis said “When we ran our campaign video across the Google platform, and we saw an increase in traffic by 30% with regard to our brand. The branding spent to get that video out there wasn’t that high. It was the value of the sponsorship that really helped. We saw that the segments of the audience that were coming to us because of the branding wasn’t just in the UK. There are global superstars in the team. Good players in Asia, and European countries are extremely well known so we saw a huge uptick globally.

“I do think it is measurable if you do it right, therefore we will expand on this over the next few years” he said.

Regarding the challenges that have been faced this year, Mr Chailis explained that those who haven’t been able to visit the matches have been equally thwarted as those on the sponsorship side “We have a hospitality space at Tottenham, but we aren’t allowed to use it due to lockdowns. However given the big picture, when people are allowed to fly again, London is the place where everyone wants to go. Nobody wants to travel to Manchester to see a game, they want to go to London ,and Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium is the finest in the world.”

What if there are empty stadiums next year?

“You’re aiming for getting the fans into the stadiums, however the increase in teh TV audience this year is more than making up for the lack of people in the stands. It’s really only the hospitality component that we are missing. The clubs have been very good at making up for the inability to go to the stadium this year” said Mr Chailis.

“This gives more opportunity to negotiate with the clubs, to get speaking rights from players, and media rights” said Ms Salveta.

“At the beginning of the lockdowns, Valencia came to us and offered us a lot of inventory, more TV time, in order to make sure we are getting value from our relationship with them. We want to build long term relationships with clubs but it has to be beneficial for both” said Mr Chailis.

“Yes, we have missed out on the VIP aspect of it” said Mr Plattner, “however they are prepared to give us different assets. For example, in the Premier League space, there is a lot of opportunity for branding across the pitch whcih adds value, howver it comes down to your relationship with the club. We have been happy with West Ham United, they came to us to find ways to expand value as they knew some value could potentiually be lost and they understood how to resolve this well. If you have a good relationship, generally everyone comes to the table and works out the best way to work forward.”

“We are luckily an online business so if we get it right we can use the televised coverage to benefit us as an online business, so it could have been much worse than in other sectors” said Mr Plattner.

“Looking at the viewing figures since COVID started, they’re sky high which is an opportunity for all of us” said Mr Cooper. “Our experiences with Manchester City have been very good, they’ve given us rights we may not ordinarily have had. It is not a three or four month relationship, so you need to build rapport with the fans which takes time.”

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