Sports sponsorship: the winning model of the match between Vista and Liverpool FC – ClickZ

The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar kicked off on Sunday 20e November 2022, two days before this podcast and article go live. Held in Qatar, the tournament was full of controversy, from corruption allegations to anti-LBTQ laws. Sports sponsors are present at all global sporting events, but this controversy has left many fans critical of the brands representing the tournament.

So let’s look at sports sponsorship that flips the traditional model on its head. Vista partners with clubs like Liverpool FC and Boston Celtics to focus on small business. Small businesses at the heart of the Liverpudlian and Boston communities have seen increased subscribers, engagement and customers thanks to this game-changing sports sponsorship.

Claire Reynolds, Marketing Director UK and Nordics at Vista, joins us in the comment box for the latest episode of the Marketing Masters podcast on sports sponsorship marketing.

Subverting Sports Sponsorship Marketing

Sports sponsorships are a powerful investment for marketers. The combination of the emotions involved in sport and the rational opportunity for global reach is unlike any other. Vista wanted to use this global reach to shine a spotlight on small businesses.

“We’re taking the assets we have and the access we have through partnership, and using that as a platform to shine a light on small businesses.”

“Getting to the ladder and reaching Liverpool allowed us to do that effectively.”

He has engaged over 500 companies in the UK and Ireland and worked with 30 of them on a variety of campaigns:

  • Small business of the game: Individuals could nominate a deserving small business to enjoy a unique experience during a match at Anfield (Liverpool stadium). This included sitting in the Legends Lounge, receiving a personalized Liverpool shirt and seeing their business advertised on LED screens around Anfield seen by thousands in the stadium and millions around the world.
  • Professional experience: Vista and Liverpool FC have created a series of content that places current players in local small businesses. Superstar players including Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez have tried their hand at barbering, with varying success rates, under the watchful eye of Iddy, the barber shop owner. He explained how loyal customers, like team members, have contributed to the success of his hair salon.
  • Celebrating Women-Owned Businesses: For International Women’s Day, Vista asked members of the Liverpool FC women’s team to choose their favorite women’s small business to highlight and celebrate. Ashley Hodson, Carla Humphrey and Missy Bo Kearns spoke about how important these businesses are to them as the owners talk about what inspired them to start and their journey so far.

The sports sponsorship performance of Liverpool FC and Vista

To follow the performance of this partnership, Vista looked at three key areas. First, Vista’s brand impact is measured through brand tracking. Second, the number of engagements with small business communities on content created through this partnership, such as player videos. Third, and most importantly, the impact on business owners themselves, from social media followers to increased customer base.

Reynolds reflected on the lessons learned so far from his partnership with Liverpool FC and the Boston Celtics, with whom he has an almost identical partnership.

“First of all, it’s about interacting with the public and co-creating with the sports partner. They have such close ties. It’s about co-collaborating. Second, change the channel mix. Social content has been so effective for them (small business owners), improving recall. Third, create authentic and engaging content that will build trust.

Vista also recently announced that it will become title sponsor of Wrexham FC, famously owned by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

Learn more about Vista’s winning approach to sports sponsorship marketing in the latest episode of the ClickZ Masters podcast.


00:12 – Presentation

00:58 – What do you think makes a good marketing leader?

02:17 – Why is sports sponsorship such a powerful investment for brands?

03:31 – How Vista flips the traditional referral marketing model?

04:52 – Why was it so successful for all parties involved?

06:51- How was this partnership based on the Boston Celtics?

08:40 – What is the nomination process for these small businesses?

09:53 – How do you measure the success of sports sponsorship?

10:43 – What have you learned from these two partnerships?

11:48 a.m. – How is the marketing of sports sponsorship changing?

12:34 – What roles should marketers play in advocating for partnerships?

13:38 – Are there any other potential partnerships on the horizon?

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Claire Reynolds is UK and Nordic Marketing Director at Vista, where she oversees global marketing and brand strategy. She joined the company in February 2022. She has over 16 years of experience in marketing strategy and brand development, as well as a deep understanding of e-commerce and multi-channel management.

Prior to starting at Vista, Claire developed her career working for several brands and e-commerce companies such as Hotter Shoes as Head of Brand & Strategy and Head of Channel Marketing, and Toast, Dentsu, FitFlop and Slendertone as Head of Marketing.

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