Van Hawke Sports is a global sports marketing agency which specializes in sports sponsorship and partnership for brands. It recently announced its expansion in the Indian market. The Playknox spoke with Sunny Singh, CEO and founder of the company to know more.
Tell us more about Van Hawke Sports
We bridge the gap between sports rights holders and brands seeking sports sponsorships and pride ourselves in a service which delivers value, choice, and convenience. We operate with an extensive global network of over 350 rights holders which includes the world’s most prestigious organisations and talent.
Van Hawke Sports was founded on the belief that brands should have a choice when engaging in sports sponsorships and should be able to pick and choose those assets which best fit their criteria and objectives. Our way of achieving this is by empowering our clients and providing them with the tools they need to make an informed decision, and via our free advisory service, provides the ultimate value and convenience to brands.
What’s the strategy behind venturing into the Indian market? Given the current scenario, how well is it working out?
We’ve actually been present in the Indian market for over 18 months now and our recent office announcement was to demonstrate our official commitment to the region expansion. Our initial foray into India was due to continuous requests from existing international brand clients wanting to explore sport opportunities within. This allowed us to generate, foster and nurture the correct relationships with Indian sports rights holders, from which I am pleased to say that we are now actively partnered with over 80% of tier 1 and 2 sports properties in the market.
That being said, our India expansion has highlighted a few areas where the Indian market in some ways currently lacks the efficiencies of other regional sports markets, primarily all of which are linked to education. Thus, the company has adopted a process of education when engaging with any Indian entities. We are educating rights holders as to what brands are seeking, which in turn ensures longevity of contracts, whilst also educating brands on the flexibility available to them when venturing into a sports partnership. And, I intentionally use the word ‘partnership’ here, as any agreement or contract of this type has to be a result of both parties correctly identifying that they are a suitable fit for one another. Brands need to understand that traditional sports sponsorships take time to filter through to a target audience and create a synonymous association between the brand and sports property in order to yield the best result.
In addition, sports right holders need to appreciate that long gone are the days when standardised category packages presented to brands would be deemed to be viable options. Now, with the advance of social media and influencer campaigns, sports properties are in contention for marketing budgets. In many instances, brands are requesting key metrics such as expected ROI. This is due to anyone now being able to invest as little as 75,000 INR into a social media influencer campaign and being able to instantly measure the viewership, engagement, and sales he or she gets in return. Rights holders have to be flexible and adaptable to brand requests.
Our approach of ‘transparency’ has been very well received, especially in the current climate where both rights holders are having to adjust their approach, offerings and onboarding processes whilst brands are having to revaluate their company marketing and sales strategies. We very much look forward to continuing our work and dispel the myths that surround sports sponsorships and strive to provide a service of value, choice and convenience for our clients.
Van Hawke also signed primary front of shirt partnership with Audacity Esports
How difficult do you reckon the recovery will be for sports businesses/agencies from Covid-19? What has been the impact on your agency?
We don’t envisage the recovery period to be difficult, as most rights holders have used this time to re-engage with their existing brand partners. This would help them secure long term contracts (albeit at times with a reduced rate card cost), whilst brands have also viewed this period in an opportunistic way to request tweaks to their current contracts to ensure an improved ROI. In fact, we are yet to come across an instance whereby a contract has been terminated and was not already in the process of being conducted.
In regards to Van Hawke Sports, we have seen a significant uptick in business with volume of +30% versus last quarter and have as a result increased our work force during this time to ensure smooth continuity of service for our brand clients.
What are the ways that the sporting realm (clubs, organisations, other stakeholders) can recover from Covid-19?
We would recommend engaging with their existing brand rosters to determine the assets that have worked best to date and tailoring the offering further to ensure contract longevity. In addition, use this period to enhance their asset portfolios, for example further focus on online and digital exposure, data base segregation and most importantly – unique content creation to improve engagement statistics.
We have seen sports resume without fans. How can marketers/agencies ensure fan engagement without fan presence in the stadiums? Does this work well for brands?
We’ve already witnessed the return of many sports globally and how they have adapted to the current era of reduced fans in stadiums. The English Premier League for example, shows their live matches with both computer-generated fan noise and without, to ensure home audiences can still feel the game excitement whilst also having choice, along with the seat netting which has increased the static exposure for their brands partners exponentially.
In addition, many rights holders have enhanced their own digital channel offerings either via OTT channels or allowing their brand partners to further create bespoke content to engage with their target audience. Both marketers and agencies should be aware that they can embrace these new found freedoms, and continue ensuring that brand fan engagements are not only preserved but also thrived.