Sport sponsorship is one of the fastest growing areas of marketing and promotion in SA. According to the authoritative BMI sport and sponsorship research company, the market was worth R6bn in 2008, a 9,25% increase.
Megapro Marketing, SA's largest sports marketing agency and the appointed commercial agency for the country's major sports bodies and commercial rights holders, enjoys a significant chunk of this business.
Part of the Primedia Sport stable, Megapro specialises in rights management, sponsorship and naming-rights sales. This means matching corporate brands with sports properties; in-stadium advertising for rugby, cricket and soccer; and sports business intelligence - research and advising corporates that want to get involved in sport on where and how to invest. "We interrogate the client on their current and desired target market, and match their profile with that of the various sports, ensuring a strategic fit," says CEO David Jenkins.
The highlight of this year was the British & Irish Lions rugby tour in June. "It's the last of the traditional tours, happens every 12 years, and is accompanied by thousands of supporters. We were tasked to secure sponsorship for the tour."
Like many ventures in the past 18 months, the tour's arrangements were complicated by the economic downturn. "Though we went to market later than we should have, the tournament was hugely successful," says Jenkins, "especially due to the R25m Castle Lager sponsorship."
Apart from stadium rights, Megapro's package to its partners included TV broadcast sponsorship, a meet-and-greet facility and an opportunity to have dinner with the Lions. Other brands secured for the tour included Vodacom, Absa, Southern Sun, SA Tourism, Samsung and Pick n Pay.
Though Megapro has built its 23-year reputation on rugby, cricket and football, it is branching out. It has partnered Big Concerts to present adult contemporary music shows, and is in talks with Joy of Jazz. "We are also getting involved in staging classical winelands concerts," says Jenkins. "This venture is an exceptional opportunity for sponsors to tap into audiences' musical passions."
Another new foray is Megapro's contractual agreements with horseracing and tote-betting company Phumelela Gold Enterprises. Megapro facilitated the title sponsorship deal for the Summer Cup 2009 between Phumelela and JD Group. The event will now be known as the Sansui Summer Cup 2009.
With stadiums such as Coca-Cola Stadium (Ellis Park) in Johannesburg, Newlands in Cape Town, Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria and Vodacom Park in Bloemfontein already on its books, Megapro this year also became commercial agent for the National Stadium (FNB Stadium), Orlando Stadium, Dobsonville Stadium, Rand Stadium and Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth. "All of these are either new or being revamped for the 2010 soccer World Cup," says Jenkins.
He says it is a challenge to bring new brands into sport sponsorship and advertising. Nevertheless, Megapro has signed a deal with htc as official cellphone supplier to the Springboks; with Samsung to sponsor the SA A1 GP team; and with BSG for cosponsorship of the Energade Triathlon Series.
Megapro's "big gun" clients include Absa, Vodacom, SA Breweries, Sasol and SA Airways. This year it received first prize for sports marketing at the PMR Awards.
After being acquired by the Primedia group in 1997, Megapro restructured into standalone companies under the banner of Primedia Sport. These companies are: Signet Licensing for sport licensing and merchandising; Warwick Hospitality & Events for sport hospitality and events; Megaview for rental of LED screens and trailers at events; and MatchWorld for sponsorship management.