SportPesa’s Shaun Simmonds – Using sporting partnerships to expand into new markets

The agreement of a five-year partnership with acclaimed video game Football Manager, marked the expansion of SportPesa’s already extensive sporting sponsorship portfolio.

The Kenyan sports betting operator, currently sponsors the likes of Everton, Arsenal and La Liga, partnerships that enable SportPesa to expand into new markets, whilst growing its global footprint.

Shaun Simmonds, Head of Marketing for SportPesa underlined that the newly formed partnership with Football Manager will play a “huge role in SportPesa’s diversification into new territories.” 

He added: “We recognise Football Manager as part of the fabric of football in the UK, but the game now reaches a global audience. More importantly, this audience is immersed in football. These players know the game and are invested into the sport and the unique subculture that surrounds Football Manager.

“By signing this partnership we are fully aware of the benefits that such an association with Football Manager – a globally trusted brand – can bring to SportPesa as we grow into new markets.”

He then emphasised how “imperative” it is that with the these sponsorships, SportPesa isn’t merely buying media, or plastering its logo everywhere, highlighting that: “The general sports fan is becoming more and more difficult to convert into a customer because as a consumer they are now hardened to the more traditional types of marketing.

“You have to offer a valuable proposition, something with true, tangible value – not a free bet with a hundred turnover requirements. There are clubs in the Premier League that

 have had numerous different betting partners, and most of these brands try the same things. We’re trying to create meaningful campaigns that make a difference to people and eventually, we hope that this builds loyalty towards our brand.

“This year alone we sent the first Premier League side (Everton) to ever play a friendly in East Africa, the first Kenyan side to play away at a Premier League club (Hull City) and we’ve opened a regional HQ in Liverpool to provide employment opportunities locally and we’re planning a lot more CSR and activation campaigns in our newer markets such as the UK and Italy.”

Furthermore, Simmonds reiterated that for SportPesa and other newer brands, building trust amongst consumers can be understandably difficult. Hence why partnerships with Premier League football clubs serve multiple benefits, he stated: “ We know all about how powerful the Premier League is in terms of getting exposure and awareness – but we have been very tactical about planning our partnerships.

Detailing SportPesa’s some of the tactics behind SportPesa’s approach to maximising sponsorships he revealed that: “Arsenal is the most popular football club in our key markets and we have delivered some excellent campaigns with them featuring invincibles such Lauren and Sol Campbell delivering soccer clinics in Kenya and Tanzania.

“Southampton have nurtured the likes of Gareth Bale, Adam Lallana, Theo Walcott and many more under the tagline of ‘potential into excellence’ which strikes a chord with our values as we look to develop sport in East Africa. Everton has one of, if not the best community engagement programmes in world football and Hull City have been amazing in helping us with innovation, coaching programmes and also digital activation.”

Simmonds then elaborated on how  why SportPesa’s alternative sponsorship deals reel in a completely different range of benefits to standard partnerships: “La Liga and Football Manager are slightly different than the more traditional partnerships – La Liga is similar to Arsenal in that it is Africa-facing, but again we have delivered some fantastic development programmes with their help and have hosted some huge viewing parties in Africa to bring the passionate fans of East Africa as close to Spanish football as possible. We’re looking forward to teaming up with Football Manager having seen the incredible work they have done with War Child and other charities.”

Looking ahead to this Summer’s World Cup in Russia, Simmonds spoke of why the country’s strict advertising restrictions, especially for betting operators, will elevate the importance of social media at the tournament. 

He said: “Social media would have played a huge part regardless of where the tournament takes place – but you’re right, extra emphasis and budget will be allocated to social media, for sure. The targeting and product ranges on all channels are improving all of the time and we’re already working on our social media strategy for the World Cup, such is the importance we place on it.”

Maximising sponsorship deals  and sponsorship activations will be a key topic at the ‘Betting on Football 2018’ (#bofcon2018) conference. To find out more about both events click on the banner below.