The most detailed analysis of sponsorship in Australia and New Zealand to date has found the combined countries’ sports sponsorship spend is US$880 million (AUS$927m).
The Sponsorship Today report lists and analyses 1,662 deals (1,405 in Australia and 257 in New Zealand) and estimates the value of Australian sponsorship at US$735m (AU$774m) and New Zealand at US$145m (NZ$182m). Relative to GDP, the report suggests that sponsorship spend levels are significant and compare favourably with other developed nations.
The 129-page report analyses the data by sport, sponsoring industry and company. It shows that Australian Rules Football is the biggest recipient of corporate backing with US$136 million spent by sponsors annually.
Rugby union is second on US$105 million, followed by rugby league (US$90 million) and motorsport (US$77 million). Soccer, cricket and tennis take the next three slots.
“Rugby union’s high showing is down to the very large deals achieved by the All Blacks in New Zealand,” says report author, Simon Rines.
“Adidas pays in the region of US$25 million per year and AIG, the shirt sponsor, US$12.4 million.
Despite the fact that rugby union in Australia comes seventh in overall national earnings, the All Blacks’ deals lift the sport when spend across the two countries is examined.
Australia – sponsorship profile unusual
Analysis of the data shows that in Australia in particular, the profile of sponsorship differs from other western economies.
“In most countries the financial service sector is by far the dominant player in sponsorship, typically accounting for between 20% and 25% of total spend,” says Rines.
“In Australia it is only 13.4%. Similarly, telecommunications is normally another major investor
but again, in Australia, Telstra’s rugby league title sponsorship, at US$21m is the only deal of major significance and the sector is worth just 5.6% of the total.”
Instead the car (13.2%), alcohol (7.4%), government (6.1%) and soft drinks (6%) industries contribute higher levels than in most countries.
Alcohol sponsorship remains high
The situation with alcohol is interesting says Rines:
“The Australian Government introduced its ‘Be the Influence’ programme to help reduce alcohol sponsorship. Although this has clearly happened with a number of sports effectively taking Government sponsorship and dropping alcohol partners, the reality is that sport remains more dependent on alcohol money than the USA, Germany, UK, Canada, Spain, Italy or Brazil. With Russia and France having banned alcohol sponsorship, Australia has the highest proportion of alcohol spend of any major economy.”
The report suggests that the recent reports of illegal doping and links to organised crime have not yet hit sponsorship in Australia.
“Many of the sponsors are still waiting to see how this will unfold,” says Rines. “Because the sponsors are contracted over a number of years, it is a big decision to terminate the agreements.
To an extent the initial reported scale of the problem has, ironically, helped with this decision. Because no one sport has been singled out, there is no single sponsor being tainted by the allegations. Also, the concern that followed the initial announcement of the Crime Commission report does not appear to have been sustained. No major criminal charges have yet materialised, and it appears now that it is more of a wake-up call on the issues than the start of a major criminal probe. If rights holders take the appropriate steps, it shouldn’t have a big impact on sponsorship.”
New Zealand – rugby sponsorship dominant
Having a small population has curtailed the commercial potential of most sports in New Zealand with the exception of rugby union, which accounts for 63% of all sponsorship spend as a result of the huge All Blacks deals. The report finds that the major challenges in the country are for small rights holders to increase their commercial expertise to attract and retain higher value sponsors.
The financial services sector accounts for 24.5% of deal value in the country followed by sports
clothing (24.1%) and the car industry on 7.1%.
Table of contents
International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship; Australia / New Zealand special edition