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Four Reasons Why Sponsors Are Paying Closer Attention to the Paralympics

Four Reasons Why Sponsors Are Paying Closer Attention to the Paralympics

5 minute read

  • The Paralympics have seen noticeable attendance and rating growth, increasing its potential as an awareness driver for corporate sponsors
  • The Paralympics also provide an opportunity for sponsors to introduce new accessible products and technology which can help position them as a leader in this space
  • The 2016 Rio Paralympics have been experiencing funding-based challenges; current sponsors are able to assist in the staging of the games as a way to reinforce their commitment to the Paralympic movement

With the 2016 Olympics wrapped up, Rio is now set to play host to the second largest sporting event in the world; the Paralympic Games. The Paralympics were first introduced in 1948 when a group of British veterans gathered to compete in a variety of athletic events. Since 1988, the Paralympics have been hosted after the Olympic Games using the same facilities, which has significantly helped to make the Paralympic Games more formalized and professional. Today, the Paralympics have become a global event that has attracted interest from a number of global brands, due to the growing exposure opportunities and storytelling platform the property affords to corporate partners. 

Property Benefits of the Paralympics:


The Paralympics see Increasing Audiences and Coverage

The Paralympics have seen a greater increase in coverage due to the increasing demand for the content. The London 2012 Paralympic Games were the most watched Games to date as they were watched by a cumulative audience of 3.4 billion people. This was a 37% increase from the previous games in Beijing. The Winter Paralympics have also seen an increase in viewership as the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games were seen by 1.5 billion, a 32% increase from Vancouver. With the increasing audience, broadcasters are dedicating more coverage to the games. This year, NBC will air at least 66 hours of coverage, up from only 5 and a half hours of coverage at the London 2012 Paralympics - something they were criticized for. With an increased audience, sponsors have taken note. The Sochi 2014 Paralympics had a record spend among sponsors with a total of $95 million spent on the Games. As the Paralympics are hosted in different countries, the event generally receives a boost in interest. The British Parasport website – a website that gives info on disability sport - saw a 200% increase in traffic following the London Paralympics. With rising interest, the Paralympics have proven themselves as a strong property with significant marketing value.   


Authentic Platform to demonstrate new Accessibility Technology

Many Olympic sponsors have used the Olympic Games to debut new products or technology. This year, Visa created a payment ring that allowed users to pay for products at touch-enabled stations. Similarly, the Paralympics also provides a valuable platform for sponsors to launch new products or demonstrate new technology. Otto Bock is a German prosthetics company and worldwide partner of the International Paralympic Committee. Otto Bock provided their latest technology for some of the competing athletes. Having their product used by the world’s top athletes demonstrates the quality of Otto Bock’s products. Non-endemic brands can also use the Paralympics to introduce new technology or initiatives. Samsung used the Sochi 2014 Paralympics as a platform to debut a new app called the “Accessibility Map” which provided more accessible directions around Russia for people with disabilities. Samsung was able to use the Paralympic platform to demonstrate their leadership in the tech-space with a focus on disabled users. 


Opportunity to Introduce Diversity into Athlete Roster

Demonstrating diversity and inclusion is a valuable strategy in marketing.  Major brands such as AT&T place such importance on diversity marketing that they have a dedicated position to ensure that all campaigns are reflective of society. For brands that are leaders in this space, a partnership with the IPC or a National Paralympic Committee can help reinforce their commitment. Major brands have been introducing more and more Paralympians on their sponsorship roster. For the first time in their history, oil company BP’s athlete roster is made up of more Paralympians than Olympians. Paralympic athletes have become the face of marketing campaigns, and brands have used this as an opportunity to tell their inspirational stories. For example, Josh George is a Paralympian that competes in wheelchair racing and currently stars in a BMW spot. The spot promotes BMW’s wheelchair technology and prominently features George throughout. Brands also see benefits when the take the opportunity to highlight the Paralympians athleticism. A 2012 study commissioned by British broadcaster Channel 4, found that attendees of the 2012 Paralympics were surprised how compelling the Games were after experiencing them. Brands can benefit by showcasing the talent of Paralympians; content that has proven to resonate with audiences.  


Opportunity to Support an Underfunded Staging of the Paralympic Games

Just a few weeks ahead of the upcoming Rio Paralympic Games, organizers announced that there would be significant budget cuts. This has resulted in a reduction of onsite workers and the closure of multiple media centers. The organizing committee has also failed to meet the July deadline to provide grants for travel costs which put the attendance / participation of multiple countries in jeopardy. While the IOC receives 92% of their revenues from broadcasting and sponsorship, the IPC receives just 42% from these streams. The opportunity for a greater investment amongst existing sponsors or from net-new sponsors exists. The IPC already maintains a number of prominent sponsors including Visa, BP, and Samsung. With the need for extra funding at the upcoming Paralympic Games, sponsors have the opportunity to assist in the staging of the Games and be viewed as solutions providers. 

This year’s Paralympics will continue to shift perspectives of the Paralympic movement as the athletes are recognized for their athletic ability. As this shift continues, it is likely that more sponsors will support the Paralympics, and the property will continue to experience growth.

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