Meet The Shortlist 2021: Brand or Sponsor of the Year

19 Aug 2021

By: Sport Industry Group

The Sport Industry Awards 2021 will see the industry’s biggest night of the year return to Evolution London on Wednesday 8th September, and will also be the 20th anniversary of the event.

Ahead of the night, we’re taking a look at this year’s shortlist, to see who might be returning home with the famous trophies on the night.

Make sure you don’t miss out on attending the in-person return of the Sport Industry Awards - book your place now.

Brand or Sponsor of the Year is for those brands using sport as the incredible platform it is in new, innovative, and exciting ways to cement themselves within their target audiences.

Read on to see the shortlist below...  

BT - Home Nations FAs Lead Sponsor 

Supporting BT’s role in UK society as a national enabler, the brand announced the most transformational sponsorship in football, as lead partner of the England, Wales, Scotland & Irish Football Associations.

Aligning to the brand’s purpose, an ambitious 4-year strategy was set in a ‘4-3-3’ formation:

4 – Home Nation FA partnerships

3 – Focus areas most in need of support (Grassroots, Women’s & Para/Disability football)

3 – Ambitions to make a meaningful difference & leave a lasting legacy in each area 

Despite a gap in international football and the country being in lockdown over the last 12 months, BT stepped up as a national enabler & partner of the game. In its first year, the partnership has communicated the brand ambition at scale, while delivering on the promises of the 4-3-3 strategy - already having a positive & transformational impact on the football community. 

Santander - Santander & UEFA Champions League

In a year when most sponsors went quiet on social media, Santander used its football-dedicated channels to drive record levels of engagement and fulfil its primary objective of “being the most talked” about UEFA Champions League sponsor on social.

With the UCL paused for a four-month period we completely rethought our strategy at short notice. Santander leveraged new social trends to tap into rapidly changing fan behaviours and engaged with new audiences to give them the content they craved without live football.

The brand's content output during this period varied greatly. Given Santander’s role of responsibility within communities it created content that delivered Covid messaging to football fans in a simple and easy to understand way. It also capitalised on various challenges that became popular during lockdown, even starting its own viral trend with Brazilian Ronaldo doing the washing up, which made it onto TV in four countries!

Sony Interactive Entertainment - Sony & Playstation 5 

2020 was a year for setting new precedents, and Sony Interactive Entertainment was no different.

Despite a global pandemic and the end of live events overnight, PS5 still became the company’s biggest console launch in history.

The Sony Interactive Entertainment brand - PlayStation - was able to adapt to the ‘new normal’ because sport was a key strategy to connecting with fans of all ages.

Sport’s power - even from behind closed doors - in building cultural relevance was leveraged by the brand to great effect in markets all over the world. 

A reactive, social-first mentality produced many highlights for PlayStation in the year everything went online. From supporting grassroots football and hero-ing emerging talent; to creating new platforms around global and local level sponsorships; PlayStation brought fans and athletes together around the promise that ‘Play Has No Limits.’ 

That was not just the brand message but something PlayStation embodied throughout a remarkable year. 

Visa - Visa & Olympic and Paralympic Games 

Visa believes that sport has the power to change the world. They approach their sponsorship properties with a mission to use the platforms to advocate for a greater good. Visa has remained true to that mission even against the backdrop of a global pandemic.

With worldwide attention on the Olympic postponement, Visa leveraged the collective power of the brand’s platforms to promote awareness of safety measures relevant to the health crisis. Visa worked with 20+ athletes globally to film social media PSAs promoting measures like handwashing and social distancing in the campaign, “Do Your Part Like An Olympian”.

Visa has always stood for making transformational impacts – keeping in line with this ethos, athletes across Team Visa have advocated for a key tenet of Visa recovery efforts: helping small businesses, many of whose livelihoods have been threatened. Issuing an important call to action: to shop local, because “Where You Shop Matters.