The Turkish sponsorship market can be divided into three main sub-categories: sponsors which invest heavily internationally, sponsors which invest professionally locally and sponsors which invest locally through personal connections. The major change in the recent years is the growth of in the first two categories.
Turkish Airlines, Beko and Efes Pilsen, for example, are the dominant forces in European Basketball. Since July 2010 Euroleague’s name has been changed to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague where Efes Pilsen is one of the major sponsors of the event. Beko has the naming rights of the Turkish Basketball League as well as the German Bundesliga.
Turkish Airlines’ sponsorship deals are distributed evenly through several sports. The sponsorship deals with football clubs Manchester United, Barcelona FC and Shaktar Donetsk, with individual sports people like Caroline Wozniacki and Kobe Bryant, and events such as the Winter Universiade Erzurum 2011 and WTA Championship.
International sponsorships have created great excitement, but the growth in the second category should not be brushed aside. Companies like Turk Telekom (which has several sub-brands like Avea and TT Net) and Ulker have been the protagonists of this change with several other companies following their path. Companies in this category work closely with the sponsored teams/sports to create an efficient and productive partnership in line with sponsorships in more mature markets.
The third category, sponsorship deals through personal connections and networking -although diminished in recent years - still account for a major share in the sector. These sponsorships can be described as “money sponsorships” where the sponsors give a certain amount of money for brand awareness even though this is not a major concern for the sponsor.
The growth and stability of the Turkish economy in recent years has acted as a catalyst to the growth of the sports business economy. This has combined with the emergence of professionals specialising in sports sponsorship and brands realising the influence, as well as increased ROIs, to be gained through sports sponsorship.
Without any doubt, football is the most attractive sport for the sponsors. The kind of relationship between a club and its supporter is a very special bond in Turkey. It is a way of life for the fans, which presents a golden opportunity for the sponsor. Recently, however, a police investigation into organized match-fixing has cast doubt on the professional game’s management. The Turkish Super League has been postponed to early September and the whole football community is holding its breath waiting for the final outcome. Ultimately, however, this crisis will force clubs to become more professionally managed, which will benefit sponsors.
With recent Turkey-hosted international basketball events (European and World Basketball Championship) and those in the future (2012 Euroleague Final Four and 2014 World Women Basketball Championship), basketball is the second most attractive sport for the Turkish market. Most of the teams in the basketball league have name sponsorship deals where brands like Anadolu Efes, Turk Telekom and Banvit have their own teams.
Volleyball sponsorship has also been very popular in the recent years. One Turkish Volleyball League club’s name “ Vakifbank Türk Telekom Günes Sigorta” consists of three different sponsors. The club won the CEV Euroleague Final Four 2011, held in Istanbul.
Besides these three sports, sponsors are targeting sports, which may be defined as “growth” sports. These include golf, sailing and motorsports. There is a niche market of supporters/followers for these sports and opportunities for a brand to reach specific target markets, mainly higher-income males.
By Engin Kehale, marketing director, Euroasia Sports
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