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w.imrpublications.com/overview.aspx?sid=44&rid=2">Sponsorship Today report on global car industry sponsorship shows that the industry spends $1.28 billion on sport (excluding motorsport).

The report, which values and analyses 503 deals across the world, shows that General Motors is the biggest investor on $235m with Toyota in second place on $207m. Hyundai and Volkswagen take third and fourth spots respectively.

Soccer biggest recipient –  Olympics and golf feature highly

Soccer is the biggest recipient of spend on $487m but Olympic-related sponsorship accounts for $142m and golf for $109m. American Football and basketball each receive more than $80m with tennis ranked sixth on $62m.

Luxury brands gravitate to golf, tennis and sailing

The research shows that luxury brands such as Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Lexus and Mercedes have the clearest sponsorship strategies and that their spend has focused on selected sports.

“Golf events in particular see a large number of luxury car makers take title rights,” says report editor Simon Rines.

“It demonstrates that the sector sees the sport as highly relevant to its target audience. With more marques, such as Ford, Alfa Romeo and Citroën, looking to occupy the luxury space, alongside the likes of Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo, it suggests that there could be growth in rights fees for prestigious events in golf and tennis in particular.”

Volume car makers show patchy sponsorship approach

In terms of overall strategy, the report suggests that many of the volume producers appear to lack a coherent global sponsorship strategy. Deals are frequently signed across numerous different sports, with different tier levels and no international, or indeed, national consistency.

“It would certainly appear that some major groups have a clearly defined strategy, whereas others appear to acquire rights in an ad hoc fashion,” says Rines.

“If you take Kia as an example, the group has a large portfolio of deals which are spread globally. In the USA it has focused on basketball with a partnership with the NBA, 14 of the teams and endorsements with the likes of LeBron James. The brand has effectively taken car industry ownership of basketball in the country, which arguably gives it much more strength than spending the same amount on a sprinkling of rights across all of America’s major sporting codes where the brand would just get lost in the clutter.”

The rise of China as a sponsorship market

The Chinese sponsorship market, often overlooked since Beijing 2008, is showing signs of maturity at least in terms of western investment in rights. Car industry spend in the country is estimated at $86m per year with the majority coming from the likes of Ford, Mercedes, Volvo and BMW etc, although local brands FAW-Volkswagen, Dongfeng and Lifan are increasing their spend.

“China is still nowhere near the US, which accounts for $333m per year, and that doesn’t include the vast amount the industry spends on motorsport,” says Rines.

“But it does suggest a significant change is happening. We know that the major Chinese and Indian manufacturers are starting to look at international markets. It is fairly obvious that they will be following the model started by the big Japanese brands in the 1970s and Hyundai/Kia in the 1990s.

"Their production and quality is increasing rapidly, which will be followed by international distribution and with that comes international marketing. To develop brand awareness and image, sponsorship is very likely to be a key tool and these brands could be taking major global rights within the next decade. At the same time, as their domestic markets open up, existing motor industry giants will be seeking to gain market share and soccer and basketball in China and cricket in India might well be key to their efforts. The growing competition is certainly good news for rights holders across the world.”

The report is available from International Market Reports priced $795 or as part of the IMR Online annual subscription, also priced at $795.

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