The greater prominence achieved by sports in Colombia at all levels has resulted in more media coverage and consequently rising exposure and profitability for companies sponsoring sport competitions, teams and athletes. While major sports such as football, cycling and roller-skating get the best sponsorship contracts, investment in minority sports is becoming a reality.
THE BEAUTIFUL GAME: Football is undoubtedly Colombia’s national sport and consequently the main attraction for sponsors. Investments in sponsorship within football are expected to increase significantly in the wake of the momentum that the national team is experiencing. Colombia rose to third place in the FIFA world rankings in early July 2013, behind only Spain and Germany, the best position in the country’s history. This, together with the impending qualification of the Colombian team for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, has helped revitalise local fanaticism for football, as well as boost the interest of major sponsorship companies. The Colombian team received lucrative sponsorship contracts from local companies like the brewer Bavaria, the telecommunications company Movistar, the Canadian energy giant Pacific Rubiales Energy (COP6bn [$3.6m] for two years), Adidas and Gillette, among others. Luis Bedoya, president of the Colombian Football Federation, recently told local press there is still room for at least one more sponsor. These sponsors are implementing new marketing strategies, seizing on the technological boom that Colombia is experiencing, partly thanks to the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology plans to increase internet penetration in the country (see ICT chapter). In addition to providing their image at every national team game, sponsors are launching campaigns via online networks such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Further, Telefónica’s Movistar created a fan club where users can follow news of the football team. Meanwhile, the Colombian professional league is also growing in visibility and consequently in sponsorship opportunities. The league itself is sponsored by soft drinks giant Postobón. However, one large sponsorship contract will have to be changed shortly as antismoking legislation, due to be enacted before the end of 2013, is set to ban the sponsorship by tobacco brands at sporting events. This is the case of the Mustang Cup, the second-most-important football tournament in the country, which will have to find a new sponsor (as Mustang is a Colombian cigarette brand).
Among the largest investors sponsoring professional football teams are brands such as car makers Hyundai, Honda and Kia, as well as local rum producers, such as Licores del Valle, which recently signed a contract to sponsor Cali’s America, right after the team had succeeded in being removed off the Clinton list ( companies that are financed with drug money).
SKATING UPWARDS: After four years of talks, Colombian roller-skating has found a new sponsor in Postobón. The firm agreed in July 2013 to support this sport with a massive presence in Colombia, after negotiations with the Colombian Skating Federation.
After signing the agreement, Alberto Herrera Ayala, the federation’s president, told the local press, “This is the result of a big effort, and a sign of the seriousness with which we run our sport and the promising projection that we have.” Roller-skating’s higher profile in the media contributed to the conclusion of this agreement and exemplifies the opportunities that arise for a sport that works on development, publicity, participation in international events and, especially, improves its professional administrative and financial management.
GROWING SPORTS: Meanwhile, a number of other brands are contributing to the growth of lesser-known sports in Colombia. Gatorade, for example, a brand that belongs to PepsiCo, is supporting the growth of rugby, traditionally little-known in Colombia, but which has received investment of some COP52m ($31,200) from the brand to grow its reputation and following. Olympic sports rising in stature and seen as ripe for sponsorship opportunities include athletics, boxing, weightlifting, judo, wrestling and taekwondo, among others.
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