The delicate art sports sponsorships: AFL star Matthew Pavlich on the balancing act

In the world of sports sponsorship and marketing, it’s easy to overlook the delicate balancing of the interests of rightsholders, leagues, clubs and individual players, said former AFL star Matthew Pavlich as he described some of intricacies of a modern sporting deal at Mumbrella’s Sports Marketing Summit.

Pavlich (right) on stage with Mumbrella’s Alex Hayes

Pavlich, one of most hightly decorated West Australian players in the Australian Football League and current president of the AFL Players’ Association, said the protection of sponsors is one of the tricky points for all competitions as the league has major sponsors, the clubs have others and individual players have their own separate arrangements.Working around those sponsorship restrictions can prove difficult for marketers, he said.

“I’d recommend being very clear in your objectives” recommended Pavlich.

“Generally speaking the more effort you put into a relationship the more you get out of it, if the brand has a really clear strategy,” he said. “You really need to be clear what you’re trying to achieve.”

Pavlich also said there was an emerging issue with regards to the ownership of player data and the rights involved, something marketers, broadcasters and sports administrators will have to get their heads around.

“The players are very much open to the broadcasters and whoever about using data, but there is a feeling of anxiety around this – who owns the data? What impact does data have, for instance, on contracts going forward?

“Players are very much open to sharing data with the broadcasters on an anonymised basis so you can’t identify the individual players,” he said. “This is at the vanguard of sports but we see it as a good thing.”

Data though is not the whole picture without the context, Pavlich warned. “A player might run 17km but they barely touched the ball,” he laughs. “There’s a piece out there for someone to capture that data.”




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