In a summer of league finals and World Cups in multiple sports, a handful of blue-moon moments are arriving all at once. For sponsors of these events the opportunities are significant, but there are challenges, too. Here’s what you need to know.

As with other types of brand advertising, sponsorship requires a clear head, says Alex Charkham, Head of Strategy at Fuse. (WARC subscribers can read the exclusive report: A massive summer for sports sponsors, but will fans notice?)

“In the middle of activation planning, I once heard a client say we needed to be cautious in our approach. Why? ‘Because as the new kid on the block among an established list of sponsors, we would be viewed by fans with a degree of caution, even suspicion.’ This vastly overestimates the way that fans regard sponsors”, Charkham writes.

It is an extremely crowded field of discussion – whether that’s on TV, in print or online, or in social conversations – major international competitions are difficult to own.

“A survey by Kantar from the 2017/18 Champions League season revealed that of all the social media conversation around the tournament (6.4 billion “interactions”), sponsors contributed to just 1% of the overall chatter.”

Though some brands, like the UEFA Champions League sponsor Heineken, provide examples of where sponsorship can integrate without being too pushy. Charkham compares the brewing giant to John Lewis’s Christmas advertising: “Heineken’s sophisticated and consistent strategy has generated a sense of expectation and intrigue around what it will produce next.”

At the highest level, sponsorship contributes to a brand’s mental availability by finding reach on a massive scale. Measurement, however, is really difficult; “the focus remains on telling a comprehensive ROI and ROO (return on objectives) story around more traditional KPIs. But, for some inexplicable reason, few have cracked a total measurement solution from awareness down to conversion.”

Ultimately, sponsorship requires a clear-headed understanding of where the brand can comfortably sit in a match – the high drama of a final with insurance advertising against it will jar. Beyond that, fans expect a certain tone from their sports coverage and the most common advertising and sponsorship around it tends to have a clear and distinct voice and tone. “Where possible, use plenty of media budget and assume others will do the same (things rarely go viral organically) and hope for a bit of good fortune.”

Sourced from WARC