How sport sponsors must protect their brand

  when right holder goes rogue



By Elliot Butruille

SKEMA Business School

Lille, France



Sport is becoming one of the most sensitive markets for sponsoring. Even that the amount of money generated by sport is going bigger and bigger, it is today very risky for the sponsor to start a sponsoring relationship. Indeed, with the advent of social network, athletes are the center of the attention and every move are looked at and analyzed by the public. In this context, it is very important for the sponsor to secure his own interest in a sponsoring relationship to keep control of his brand image.

By using the “Multi Attribute Decision Making”, this paper will develop the solutions for the sponsor to protect his brand in the event of right holder behaviour that harms brand image.

The author will demonstrate in this paper that from the different perspective selected: the confidential arbitration and the public excuses are the best solution for a sponsor to protect his interests from the right holder and the public.

Key words: Sponsor, Sponsorship, Contract, Sport, Exclusivity, Brand representation, Moral clause


The world market of sport sponsorship is often estimated at more than 60 billion dollars, and in the next 5 years it should increase more and more according to big sport world events coming… This market can be seen as an amazing opportunity to make business, but actually it is a really sensitive to deal with it.

If sponsor thinks that building a sponsoring partnership is only about writing a standard legal contract and discussing money, they will probably fail to secure their interests…

The reason for it, is that a sponsoring includes two high powered stakeholder: the sponsor who own the money and want to promote his brand and the right holder who own a strong brand image and want to value it at maximum. Together they have to find the most suitable agreement to convince the third and major stakeholder: the fans or customers… This last stakeholder must never be underestimated because it has a huge impact. Whether you are a powerful sponsor or an influent right holder, you are always taking a risk because you are dealing with image and perception of your fan or customers.

Everyone remember the French Football Team “strike” in 2010 for the South Africa Football World Cup which cost 4.5 million euro to the “Fédération Francaise de Football” (French Football Organization) to refund sponsors. Lance Armstrong losing all of his sponsors in the next twelve hours after his confession about doping… Or more recently the Liverpool FC fans, who signed a petition against a new sponsor (Tibet Water Resources Limited) which they accuse of unethical behavior in Tibet.

Sponsoring is definitely a powerful weapon of communication, but all weapons are double-edged. At a time where “buzz” and social network are building or destroying reputation, it is compulsory to manage carefully your sponsoring relationship.


To read entire paper, click here


Editor’s note: Student papers are authored by graduate or undergraduate students based on coursework at accredited universities or training programs.  This paper was prepared as a deliverable for the course “International Contract Management” facilitated by Dr Paul D. Giammalvo of PT Mitratata Citragraha, Jakarta, Indonesia as an Adjunct Professor under contract to SKEMA Business School for the program Master of Science in Project and Programme Management and Business Development.  http://www.skema.edu/programmes/masters-of-science. For more information on this global program (Lille and Paris in France; Belo Horizonte in Brazil), contact Dr Paul Gardiner, Global Programme Director, at [email protected]

About the Author

Elliot Butruille

SKEMA Business School
Lille, France


Elliot BUTRUILLE is a French fifth year engineering student specialized in Transport System and Logistics in Centrale Lille. Simultaneously, he is following a Master’s degree in Project Management and Business Development in SKEMA Lille. He already performed successful experience in India by managing the implementation of the e-commerce reverse logistic of a sport company named Decathlon (€10 billions of turnover).

This dual competence will let him manage technical projects by providing a technical expertise from his engineering master degree and management skills provided by his business master degree. Passionate about sport he is interested in the challenge between business and sport and especially the sponsoring relationship.

He is looking forward for a challenging internship in project management or consulting services in supply chain and logistics starting in April 2017.

Elliot can be contacted at [email protected]