Thrust into the Sponsorship Spotlight this week was John Cruces, Head of Sports Marketing and Sponsorships at Dafabet.
We caught up with him to discuss sponsorship of Sunderland and Burnley, the introduction of ‘sleeve sponsors’ in the Premier League, and the form of the record-breaking Bhoys.
SBC: Can you explain to SBC readers why you chose to ‘double up’ on Premier League sponsorship, and what are the differences between the two deals?
JC: Simply put, the position became available to add to our portfolio of sponsor assets.
When speaking to Burnley (as Sunderland were existing partners), they impressed us with their vision and what they looked to achieve and they’re well on the way to doing so for this season. We thought what was proposed represented value for both ourselves and the club so we went ahead.
Difference between the deals? We don’t believe there are in our approach – we try to localise some things in terms of fan offerings, but in the main we look for consistency in how we promote ourselves. From the other side, thankfully the clubs we’ve worked with have been proactive and helpful, hence us usually having longer term deals than other gaming firms. We firmly believe the best partnerships are those where both sides contribute and longevity helps sustainability accordingly.
SBC: Have you spent any time assessing Mansion’s approach to sponsoring both Crystal Palace and Bournemouth?
JC: Not really. We may have looked at how they do their LED or the like, but not because they’re another gaming brand – but because they’re present as per other companies from other industries. We prefer to concentrate on what we do and let others do the ‘following’
SBC: How do you change marketing plans to reflect increased exposure? For example, Sunderland were on TV four times in the first five game-weeks, then Burnley had a run of three consecutive televised matches (GW 6-8) which included a Monday Night Football and two Super Sunday appearances. This meant you were screened live in the UK on eight of the first 10 weeks.
JC: We can’t choose the fixtures or how they fall sadly, not even the respective club managers can – although over the years it hasn’t looked that way!
But seriously we had a good run of fixtures if you’re talking UK channels.
However, given the percentage of our players who are based in Asia, all the games are televised so we get the coverage all season round. Which is why we sponsor Premier League teams, such is the popularity worldwide. So, with that in mind, we try to see the season as what it is and concentrate season long into making the most of our assets.
SBC: We have been gathering opinion on the value of the Premier League sleeve, which will be open for sponsors from 2017/18. Now you have experienced front-of-shirt sponsorship in the Premier League, and the benefits that come with it, are you inclined to pursue ‘sleeve sponsorship’ in the coming years?
JC: Personally, I think given this is ‘new’ it’s very much a toe in the water mindset now. Some of the ‘agencies’ are living in cuckoo land from what I’ve seen though in what percentages they put it against actual shirt front. But we don’t deal with these, so they can quote whatever they wish.
I’m also of the view that considering virtually all clubs have existing betting partners, that the sleeve won’t be overly sold to the industry except maybe those already on shirt fronts who should get first refusal. I’d see it a better fit to other industries if I was working for the club trying to sell the space.
For now, we’re likely to let this settle down – unless we see something we deem value.
SBC: Just finally, we can’t let you go without mentioning the league form of another Dafabet sponsored side, Celtic. How pleased are you with the team’s winning run, and the publicity it has generated for the company?
JC: We’re extremely pleased, that goes beyond saying.
We know records will be broken – they already have been and the season is already a huge success, so to be a part of that is fantastic for us.
It will result in bonuses being paid but the coverage that we will receive is worth it. We simply hope that the run continues, the treble is won and fingers crossed the Bhoys go unbeaten for the remainder of the season – Hail Hail!