Thu, 13 Apr 2000

Sports bodies need new concepts to lure sponsors

JAKARTA (JP): Due to the difficult situation arising from the inability of the government to provide funds for sports development, sports organizations are having to raise money by soliciting sponsorships. The problem is how to develop a concept which will interest companies to contribute substantial sums of money for sports?

The question arose at the opening of the four-day seminar on marketing and mass media staged by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) and its Regional Development Chapter (RDC) in Jakarta.

IAAF development director, Bjorn Wagemann, told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday that the seminar was meant to help organizations to prepare marketing concepts and products in order to obtain financial support from private sectors.

"The seminar addressed the needs of the 13 RDC members to secure sponsorships by adapting to the varying business environments of each country. We are open to their ways and ideas to deal with these problems."

Speaking on the difficulty of getting sponsorships in many countries, including Indonesia, Wagemann said businesspeople still did not understand the impact of sports on consumer preferences.

"In some countries sports are still not very strong or popular and television stations are not interested in broadcasting the competitions. The more attractive the sport, the better the chance to attract sponsors."

"The seminar will give them techniques on how to get sponsors, serve them and maintain them."

The Indonesian Amateur Athletics Association (PASI) official in charge of marketing, Ade Marni, said that sports organizations in the country could no longer rely on the government for their financial requirements.

"It is time for us to develop sports through sponsorships from private sectors."

Linda Wahyudi, official in charge of media, said that sports officials in Indonesia expected to learn from the seminar ways to prepare sports news in more interesting ways to attract media as part of the promotion.

Big business

One of the seminar speakers, Adrian Metcalfe of England, said that sports in the 20th century has turned into big business.

"It's our job to balance sports as fun and sports as business. With about 230 sports on offer throughout the world, we must be able to create an atmosphere where people can enjoy our sports. We must make our commercial partners and fans satisfied with our products -- the event and the athletes -- and get them to come back," said Metcalfe, who earned a silver medal in the men's 4x400m in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.

Another speaker, Helmut Diegel, said increasing numbers of sports organizations were fighting to get small pieces of the sponsorship cake.

"This is one of the biggest challenges. Nowadays, the number of sports organizations is increasing but the cake remains the same; so everyone is fighting to taste a small piece of the cake."

"Another challenge is that we want to see a crowd in the stadium and good TV coverage. But we must think of their problem. The number of disciplines, especially in athletics, is increasing every four years. But the market and TV say the time to stage all disciplines is too long," said Diegel, who is a member of the IAAF marketing and television commission.

"IAAF also is urged to introduce a world ranking system as in tennis. Everybody can say that Andre Agassi (of the United States) is world number one in tennis. But who is the world number one in athletics. In general, we can say Maurice Green (of the United States) is number one. But he's a sprinter. How can we compare a sprinter with a pole vaulter, or a high jumper with a hammer thrower? It remains a problem for us."

The seminar -- attended by Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam and host Indonesia -- will end on Saturday. (yan)