February 19, 2019

Footy Sponsorships


“Try Try Try!” These were the words you were praying to hear. Ray Hadley had just screamed them out as you listened intently catching the last 25 minutes in the car while your team came from behind to snatch victory. For a moment you thought it was all over, but Hadley was just building the suspense.


Like a machine gun firing words at you. “30 seconds to go”.


Hadley tells the story of the ball going from one player to the next. There’s a flick pass, a crunching tackle, you’re picturing it all unfolding while still having the capacity to ask questions of your team.


Why won’t they give the ball to Cronk? “They’re all over him like calamine lotion”.


Your thinking they’re going to blow it again. Your heart sinks. Time is running out.


Then Hadley’s tone changes. The timbre in his voice trembles. He’s firing at you again.

Faster and faster the movie is rolling in your mind before he leaves you suspended in time for just a micro second and the cry goes out …”Try Try Try!”. You can hear the crowd go wild.


The relief. The celebration as you pump the air with your fist. The driver at the traffic lights next to you looks across and thinks you’re crazy. The kids in the back are cheering along with you.  This is footy on the radio.


In my last blog I talked about sponsorships on the radio and how sport offers many opportunities. Footy is one of the big ones as it runs over 30 weeks of the year.


Footy season kicks off in March so now would be the time to finalise your footy radio sponsorship for 2019, whether it be NRL or AFL.


I will cover-off some of the highlights of how a football sponsorship on radio works shortly but first let me share with you why radio and football are a perfect match.


While listening to the radio during the NRL Finals last year, my daughter, who has just turned 10, asked me, “Why do you listen to sport on the radio Dad? Wouldn’t you rather watch it on TV?”. I do flick the footy on at home on a Sunday afternoon but when you’re in the car and your team is playing or it sounds like a ripper game is unfolding, I love listening to footy on the radio.


I tried to explain to her the theatre of the mind that happens when you listen to anything on the radio. You are re-creating images and frames in your mind in an instant. Even when you listen to music. Theatre of the mind just kicks in. It’s the same when you read. You are processing thoughts and creating images and emotions. You are the Director.


The quality of the movie you create is very much determined by the quality of the commentator. Ray Hadley changed the way Rugby League was called. There were many outstanding commentators before Ray Hadley, but as I portrayed him earlier, Ray Hadley has been able to keep up with a game that is getting faster every season. He has a natural ability to commentate very quickly while still injecting the emotion and excitement that makes you feel like you’re on the field. The best example is his brilliant call of the 1994 State of Origin ‘Try of the Century’. It will give you ‘Goose bumps.


Last years AFL Grand Final was a thriller. West Coast Eagles beat Collingwood by less than a goal. The game went down to the wire. Most people were watching the game on TV but for those who had to work, or were travelling in their cars, the radio provided truly memorable coverage. 3AW has been the home of AFL for as long anyone can remember, and Tim Lane’s call of the dying minutes was one of the best of all time. But great commentators don’t always just blurt out classic lines like, “From the MCG a mighty roar erupts…and from the other side of the Nullarbor Plains so does another mighty roar”. These linguistic pieces of commentary are often planned in advance. This is their craft. It’s what sets them aside and makes them the best in the business. They are there to relay the action but also to entertain.


The quality of the commentary has to be an important factor when deciding where you align your brand when it comes to a Radio Football Sponsorship.


One of the other key factors is over-commercialisation. What you don’t want is your brand getting lost in a ‘sea’ of other brands. Too much clutter will dilute the effectiveness of your sponsorship.


I once worked for a company who had just obtained the rights to footy on the radio. The CEO asked the Sales Manager and I to go to the pub for the afternoon (no problem, thank you very much) and come up with a list of all things we can sell in the broadcast. How about “The Blood Bin brought to you by Dracula’s Pathology”? Or “this Penalty thanks to the Tax Office”? Nah.


The Scoreboard, The Sideline Eye (NRL), Boundary Rider (AFL) and The Video Ref (NRL) are all good properties that help to elevate your brand, so you stand out from the crowd. That’s because you are in the actual call of the game. There’s also the Match Preview, the Half Time, the Man of the Match, this Quarter of Football, the Post Match, and the King of all sponsorships…PRIMARY PARTNER where you end up owning the station for up to 20 hours every weekend. Finding the right sponsorship that offers the best value and the most integrations for your brand is your top priority in determining which station and which sponsorship you should invest in.


There are many other ways you could spend your money on sport, let alone football. You could sponsor a team. Buy signage at the ground, which is now digital. You could sponsor the footy on a Free to Air TV channel, Fox Sports, or invest your money entertaining your clients with a corporate box live at the game. But radio is affordable and offers great value for money delivering a massive audience.

We don’t have enough time in one blog to break down the nuts and bolts of each Network’s football sponsorships. But how you buy footy has changed over the last few years. As I’ve mentioned before, with all sponsorships it’s a ‘Buyers-Market’. In other words, the radio stations are desperate for your business and they will bend over backwards to make sure they secure you into their coverage.


Example. The sponsorship proposal for the Scoreboard. The document details all the brand credits and the number of commercials you will receive each week during the season when the commentators call out the score. These types of proposals still exist, but the radio stations are now more prepared to tailor the campaign to suit your specific business.


In previous years, radio networks would insist that you place all or most of your commercials into their football coverage. That’s now changed. You can have your brand credits in the football but place as many of your commercials as you like in other higher rating sessions Monday to Friday. You get the benefits of aligning your brand to a football fan audience, while placing your commercials in the heavy lifting sessions, attracting customers where the ratings are the highest.


Now to the ‘Elephant in the Room’. There is, and has been, a fair amount of bad publicity around football players behaving poorly over many years. The player who was caught sticking his fingers up bums in tackles (did that really happen?). Players urinating where they shouldn’t. Simulating sex acts on Mad Mondays, and the endless list of sexual or physical assaults against women. Abhorrent behaviour. Talk about an image problem.


The radio offers a trusting channel where you can eliminate the risk of being associated with a player or a team that’s in disgrace. Your brand can sit along-side the game, immune to its failings. When the shit hits the fan, the fans turn to the radio like a patient asking the doctor for some meds to fix their ailment. “Here, take this once a week, listen for an average of 4 hours, and you’ll be feeling better in no time”.


Radio Sponsorships with football are exciting, offer excellent value, and the fans keep coming back for more year after year. Try Try Try!


Your Take-Away on Football Sponsorships is:


  1. Make sure you go with a quality broadcast. You want experienced callers who are the best in the biz.

  2. Don’t let your brand get lost in a ‘sea’ of other brands. An over commercialised environment will dilute your campaign.

  3. Make sure the integrated sponsorship suits your brand. Try and get in the actual call of the game.

  4. Put together your sponsorship from scratch. Don’t settle for an ‘off-the-shelf’ proposal. Work with the station to create a tailored campaign that best suits your business or brand.


If you need help putting together a football sponsorship for 2019, call us today at SUMM Media.


Matt Summerill


Matt Summerill is a radio advertising specialist with over 30 years-experience in the Australian radio industry. Matt operates his own media agency - SUMM Media.

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