SINGAPORE: As advertisers in Asia look to spend more on sports sponsorship, from golf to Formula One, the Asian Sponsorship Association has been launched to help businesses tap new market opportunities.

As the new association was announced at the Sports Matters conference in Singapore, Campaign Asia-Pacific reported a GfK survey which found that 70% of respondents thought it would help raise the standards of sponsorship in the region while more than half felt it would increase the variety of opportunities available.

Giles Morgan, group head of sponsorship and events at international bank HSBC, saw great potential for world-class sporting events in Asia. "Countries like China, Singapore and India can utilise sport to highlight and showcase themselves in the world stage," he said.

"These events will have the ability to drive massive international media exposure and provide authentic vehicles to attract the world's top companies to sponsor them," he added.

Morgan had outlined the HSBC approach during a conference session. He said the bank was focused on 15 priority markets and looked for major events that held international appeal. He cited the examples of the HSBC Champions, a golf tournament in Shanghai, and the Hong Kong Sevens rugby competition.

"You can see how the strategy plays out," he said. "These are flagship events in flagship cities."

An earlier session heard Prinz Matthew Pinakatt, Coca-Cola's global director of alliances and ventures, explain the choice of Formula One as a partner for its energy drink Burn. Both, he said, possessed similar attitudes: "We wanted to make sure we stayed authentic and contemporary."

Mike Rich of GroupM ESP brought an agency perspective when he warned that brands had to plan advertising around sponsorships carefully. "The challenge is how to make sponsorship relevant," he said.

Agencies, he suggested, could advise brands on building emotional connections but it would need to be a long-term strategy.

Measuring the effectiveness of such marketing remains an issue, as a recent survey in the US found 87% of respondents wanted greater validation for their expenditure, but 72% spent nothing or less than 1% of resources on this activity.

A full report from Sports Matters will be available on soon.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff