This week’s news that online used car dealer Cazoo has signed an agreement to become an official partner of the English Football League (EFL) is the latest in an increasing number of promotional tie-ups between automotive retailers and the sports world. But what’s the key to ensuring that sponsorships deliver on your marketing goals?

According to Cazoo’s press release (https://www.cazoo.co.uk/press/cazoo-signs-multi-year-partnership-deal-with-the-efl/), the partnership will involve match day branding across all 72 EFL clubs from next season. It will also see Cazoo branding across all of the EFL’s Wembley finals, starting with the Papa John’s Trophy Finals this weekend followed by the Carabao Cup and Sky Bet EFL finals.

The deal follows Vanarama’s 3-year extension of its long-standing sponsorship of Football’s National League in a reported £4 million deal, Marshall Motor Group’s sponsorship of three professional darts players, and heycar’s sponsorship of the FA Cup on BT Sport.

With millions of potential car buyers watching sporting events on television, online and, before the Covid-19 outbreak, in stadiums, it seems that this type of exposure is a perfect way to drive sales growth and boost brand reputation.

However, a successful sponsorship deal relies on careful consideration and detailed planning. Here are a few key issues to think about when entering into a sports-related sponsorship arrangement:

  • Exclusivity: Division of rights and exclusivity should be clearly set out in the sponsorship agreement. Normally, exclusivity will be linked to a brand sector, so the field of activity which encompasses the sponsor's products and services will need to be accurately defined. If you’re the sponsor, it will be in your interests to have the brand sector defined in the broadest possible terms to achieve the greatest protection against competitor marketing.
  • Rights: The sponsorship agreement should set out the sponsor's rights in detail. Consider and set out your right to use the event or team logo, and think about whether you need a right to create a composite logo that combines your logo and the event or team logo. Agree the size and location of any branding, reserve the right to use and publish photographs and film of the event (or of the individual), and ensure you have the right to use players or participants connected to the event for marketing and public relations purposes if required.
  • Obligations: Oblige the sponsored party not to change the format or schedule of the event without your approval, and to promote the event in line with your expectations. If you’re expecting television coverage, make payment of the fee conditional on that television coverage actually being broadcast.
  • Fees: Where the event that you are sponsoring stretches over a period of time, seek to negotiate a right to pay by instalments linked to key stages of the event taking place. If you’re agreeing to upfront payment, seek to negotiate a right to recover some of the fees if the event is cancelled part of the way through.
  • Term and termination: If you’re sponsoring an ongoing event, consider whether you require an option to negotiate an extension, or a right of first negotiation so that you can ensure any successful partnership continues for the long term. If the profile of the event or team that you are sponsoring is heavily reliant on a particular player or participant, you may want knowledge of their non-participation to trigger a right to terminate the contract. You may also want to negotiate a right to end the contract if a change in the event or other circumstances risks damage to your brand’s reputation.