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Circus.be – The importance of correct brand alignment

Sports Sponsorship is hardly a new phenomenon, with plenty of industry brands globally aligning themselves with a huge swathe of teams, leagues, individual stars et cetera.

One such example is Belgian online casino and sports betting specialists circus.be, with the Ardent Group operated brand containing a number of such examples as part of its own portfolio.

Alongside football sponsorships however, Circus counts a significant presence amongst cycling circles, including that of Dutch cyclist Mathieu Van Der Poel.

What appeals about what could be considered a relatively niche offering? And what factors are addressed when contemplating who or what to align your brand alongside? Thomas Dusart, Director of Marketing at Ardent, helped to shed some light on this and more.

SBC: How did the sponsorship of Mathieu Van Der Poel come about? And how is it representative of the circus.be brand?

Thomas Dusart: We started cyclocross sponsoring in 2017 with ERA-Circus team which was owned by the same managers than the formal team of Mathieu (Beobank-Corendon). As Beobank wanted to leave CX and that Corendon and Circus wanted to increase their presence in CX as well, we took the opportunity, this year, to become the second naming sponsor of Mathieu and his team (Corendon-Circus). As cyclist fan and ex-competitor, I was also totally convinced that Mathieu would be one of the next cycling phenomenons, and I did not want to miss this unique chance for our brand.

SBC: Could you tell us a little about what in particular appeals when discussing sports sponsorship opportunities?

TD: They are 3 main factors regarding sponsoring:

  1. Brand visibility and brand outfit position. For cyclocross, shoulders are the best spots while back of the short is the best one for cycling.
  2. Activation: In the past, this factor was not considered as important but it changed a lot in the last few years because of social media. In partnership with a sponsored team, we create exclusive branded content (behind the scenes, funny competitions, etc) that we ask to publish on team and athlete social media, in order to increase the audience for our brand.
  3. Hospitality: We use events such as the Tour de France, football and cyclocross competitions to invite our partners, clients, colleagues, etc…  in VIP accommodations.

SBC: Sponsorship with sports and sports stars are far from a new phenomenon, but why was it chosen to align this brand with what us a relatively niche offering?

TD: The Circus Brand is very famous in the French speaking community of Belgium (Wallonia and huge part of Brussels) but less in the Flemish speaking community (Flanders). Even if cyclocross is indeed a niche sport on international level, it is one of the favourite sport in Flanders with very large TV audiences (about 1,000,000 viewers for best competitions) and huge brand exposure thanks to the exceptional results of Mathieu.

SBC: Do any plans exist to extend sponsorship deals across either this sport or any other? Are there any sports that you don’t currently have a brand presence that would appeal?

TD: In addition of Corendon-Circus, we are shirt sponsor of two first division football teams (Standard de Liège & Waasland-Beveren), short sponsor of a pro-continental cycling team (Wanty Groupe-Gobert) which just finished its second Tour de France.

As we are internationally extending the use of Circus brand, we could consider extending our cycling sponsoring to a first naming sponsoring, which delivers huge brand awareness on an international level.

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