RIO DE JANEIRO: Patrick Nally, the creator of the commercial blueprint which continues to deliver $billions in sponsorship for major sports events, has challenged young sports sector professionals to join in a debate about the future relationship between sports and brands.

Addressing members of the FIFA Masters Alumni at their Rio summit Nally said he believes a tipping point in the relationship between sports and sponsors may be approaching and that sports governing bodies have to pay more attention to managing their own brands and preserving their reputations and integrity.

Nally, whose agency West Nally  devised and implemented the InterSoccer 4 programme which transformed the finances of FIFA by introducing revenue from Coca Cola and then other major corporations,  explained that changes in the ways that brands relate to and communicate with consumers  and that consumers make purchasing decisions mean that brand reputation has become more important than ever.

He said “Sport plays a bigger role in our lives than ever thanks to media coverage that brings us all the action, all the time – and with politicians becoming more aware of nation-building kudos associated with major events, sport is a more powerful force in society, education, health, commerce, media and culture.

Brand image

“But at the same time consumers say that – all else being equal – they will make their choices based on a brand’s reputation.  Consequently brands need to be associated with positive properties and initiatives to enjoy a halo effect.

“Clearly, spending billions to support [sports] projects which are unpopular and lead to violence on the streets is not good for brand reputation and supporting [sports] bodies suspected of being corrupt is not good for brand image.”

Nally told the audience he believes that without a change in the nature of the relationship between sports and their sponsors some brands would melt away from sport and use other channels to reach their audiences.

He said: “The English phrase ‘he who pays the piper calls the tune’ has never been more apt and I believe that brands – in their own interests – will ultimately start to use their financial power to move closer to the centre of sport and ensure it is governed and administered in a way which reflects their brand image and ambitions – that’s what they pay for.”

Nally urged audience members to become actively involved in all aspects of the debate on the future of sport being organised by West Nally in association with UNESCO – the UN educational and cultural body- major sports organisations and academic institutions, businesses and media organisations.

“This is a vital conversation and has to involve all stakeholders in sport – not only major governing bodies. You are part of the brand that is FIFA and your future is inextricably linked to that brand. You are all stakeholders and ultimately this is about your future.”

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