Sports sponsorship: Vista and Liverpool FC’s match-winning model

The 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup kicked off on Sunday 20th November 2022, two days before this podcast and article go live. Hosted in Qatar, the tournament has been fraught with controversy, from allegations of corruption to anti-LBTQ laws. Sports sponsorships are present at any global sporting event, but this controversy has left many fans criticizing brands representing the tournament.

So, let’s look at a sports sponsorship that is flipping the traditional model on its head. Vista is partnering with the likes of Liverpool FC and the Boston Celtics to place the spotlight on small businesses. Small businesses at the heart of Liverpudlian and Bostonian communities have seen increased followers, engagement, and customers because of this groundbreaking sports sponsorship.

Claire Reynolds, Marketing Director UK and Nordics at Vista, joins us in the commentary box for the latest Marketing Masters podcast episode on sports sponsorship marketing.

Subverting sports sponsorship marketing

Sports sponsorships are a powerful investment for marketers. The combination of the emotions involved in sports and the rational opportunity of global reach is like no other. Vista wanted to use this global reach to shine the spotlight on small businesses.

“We take the assets we have, and the access we have through the partnership, and we use that as a platform to spotlight small businesses.”

“Accessing the scale and reach Liverpool has, has allowed us to do that effectively.”

It has engaged over 500 companies in the UK and Ireland and worked with 30 of them on a variety of campaigns:

  • Small Business of the Match: Individuals could nominate a deserving small business to get a one-off Anfield (Liverpool’s stadium) matchday experience. This included sitting in the Legends Lounge, receiving a personalized Liverpool shirt, and seeing their business advertised on the LED screens around Anfield viewed by thousands in the stadium and millions worldwide.
  • Work Experience: Vista and Liverpool FC created a content series that puts current players into local small businesses. Superstar players including Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez tried their hand at barbering, to varying rates of success, under the watchful eye of Iddy, the barbershop owner. He discussed how loyal customers, like members of the team, have helped make his barbershop a success.
  • Celebrating Women-Owned Businesses: For International Women’s Day, Vista asked members of the Liverpool FC Women’s team to choose their favorite women-owned small business to highlight and celebrate. Ashley Hodson, Carla Humphrey, and Missy Bo Kearns spoke about how much these businesses mean to them while the owners spoke about what inspired them to start and their journey so far.

Liverpool FC and Vista’s sports sponsorship performance

To track the performance of this partnership, Vista looked at three core areas. Firstly, the impact on Vista’s brand is measured through brand tracking. Secondly, the number of engagements with the small business communities on the content created in this partnership, such as the player videos. Thirdly, and most importantly, the impact on the business owners themselves, from followers on social media to the increase in customers.

Reynolds reflected on the lessons learned thus far from its partnership with Liverpool FC and the Boston Celtics, with whom it has a near-identical partnership.

“Firstly, it’s about engaging with the audience and co-creating with the sports partner. They have such close connections. It’s about co-collaborating. Secondly, switch up the channel mix. Social content has been so effective for them (small business owners), improving recall. Thirdly, creating authentic and engaging content that will build trust.”

Vista has also recently announced it will become the sleeve sponsor of Wrexham FC, famously owned by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

Learn more about Vista’s winning approach to sports sponsorship marketing in the latest episode of the ClickZ Masters podcast.

Timestamps

00:12 – Introduction

00:58 – What do you think makes a great marketing leader?

02:17 – Why is sports sponsorship such a powerful investment for brands?

03:31 – How is Vista flipping the traditional sponsorship marketing model on its head?

04:52 – Why has it been so successful for all parties involved?

06:51- How was this partnership based on the Boston Celtics?

08:40 – What is the nomination process for these small businesses?

09:53 – How do you measure the success of a sports sponsorship?

10:43 – What have you learned through these two partnerships?

11:48 – How is sports sponsorship marketing evolving?

12:34 – What roles should marketing leaders play in championing partnerships?

13:38 – Are there any other potential partnerships on the horizon?

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Claire Reynolds is the Marketing Director of UK and Nordics at Vista, where she oversees the overall marketing and brand strategy. She joined the company in February 2022. She has more than 16 years of experience in marketing strategy, and brand development, along with a deep understanding of eCommerce and multi-channel management.

Before starting at Vista, Claire developed her career working for several brands and eCommerce companies such as Hotter Shoes as Head of Brand and Strategy and Head of Channel Marketing, and Toast, Dentsu, FitFlop, and Slendertone as Head of Marketing.

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