Calling Sponsorship "CSR" - The Challenges of the Misconception in Football Commercials in Nigeria

We got into a heated argument at the boardroom of one of the foremost banks in Nigeria. We were called again to present our Sponsorship proposals to the board members. And the Corporate Communications Head insisted: "We cannot donate N200 million to Sponsor a football club from our CSR budget allocation..."

I think this sponsorship/CSR thing is getting out of hand.
Over and over, I see corporate sponsors writing sponsorship cheques like a charity donation to a professional football their own way of "giving back" to society.

No- no, it's wrong! Wrong in every sense!

Let me state it clear, sponsorship is not a Corporate Social Responsibility thing. Sponsorship stands on its own as a promotional strategy, more in the area of Advertising investment that is set out to meet specific measureable commercial goals and objectives such as "leveraging football events to reach, associate and engage the fans (target audience)."

The only type of sponsorship that has anything to do with CSR are sponsorships that include using the expertise or resources of a charity organization in association with a company's brand. An example is a corporate sponsorship of an Orphanage football event or to advertise a cause on a football club's shirt or around the stadium such as "Emzol Green Life."

Why Sponsorship isn't CSR
The problem is that calling sponsorship “CSR" is not only inaccurate...First, it tends to make sponsors think that their job is done when they spend the money, and that leverage isn’t necessary.

Leverage is important! It is the only way you will change people’s perceptions or behaviors around your brand. If you spend the money, you need to work the investment.

Brand managers should treat it entirely different, just writing the cheque and issuing a press release that for instance, "NairaBet Sponsors 3Sc with a Donation of N120 million... is not all about it.  Just like every other kind of advertisement, sponsorship investment needs to be leveraged by the sponsor in order to get a return. Spending sponsorship money and not leveraging it is a waste!

Second, companies in Nigeria shy away from sponsorship because sponsorship seekers present their proposals like they are asking for a charity donation.  Most sponsorship proposals are awful.
They’re un-customized and often arranged in levels...

They’re self-centered, having absolutely nothing to do with the sponsor, their brand, target markets, or objectives; They don’t make a complete business case! So companies usually turn down such proposals and even set gatekeepers to stop such request and proposals right at the door step.

Just like what the corporate communication manager of thr Bank said: "What are we going to gain from a Shirt Sponsorship of an NPFL club when the stadiums are virtually empty? So we have to treat it as a CSR thing, if we want it to fly."

CSR is a strategy to "give back" to your public in order to gain goodwill from your business environment or target market. but sponsorship is much more than that.. Sponsorship activities are more integrated and are composed of a variety of marketing and promotional components.

Sponsorship Defined
Sponsorship is refers to as the acquisition of rights to affiliate or directly associate with a product or event for purpose of deriving benefits related to the affiliation or association. The sponsor uses such relationship to achieve its promotional objectives.

By marketing through football, a company attempts to reach its target consumers through their lifestyle. "Lifestyle" marketing is a strategy for seizing the concept of a market according to its most meaningful patterns of attitudes and activities. Sponsorship is a more impressive kind of advertising, public relations...possibly sales promotions and publicity put together.

Sponsorship Objectives
According to research, corporate sponsors set the following objectives that influenced their decisions to enter into Sponsorship agreement with football clubs:
·        To increase public awareness of the company, the products or both.
·        To alter or reinforce public perception of the company
·        To identify the company with the particular market segment
·        To involve the company in the community
·        To build goodwill among decision makers
·        To generate media exposures
·        To achieve sales objectives
·        To create an advantage over competitors through exclusive association with an event
·        To gain unique opportunities in terms of hospitality and entertainment.
·        To secure entitlement or naming rights...

For more details on how you get Corporate Sponsors to Sponsor your football products or events, you can consult with us. Call: +234 809 877 2556 or Email:

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