This is part of a series in which we look at how companies in the industry are leveraging sports sponsorships.
Ricoh has a decades-long history of sponsoring sports teams, leagues, players and events to help it better engage and connect with its diverse customer audiences while also helping clients meet their business objectives.
Company officials would not disclose exactly how much it spends annually to promote, partner with and participate in wide-range of top-tier sports leagues and athletes. But it’s safe to say it’s a significant chunk of the more than $24 billion companies will invest this year to sponsor North American sports leagues and teams.
Ricoh and other leading OEMs have committed a great deal of time, money and effort to associate their brands with these major sporting events and leagues. As Ricoh spokeswoman Jennifer Lyons put it, Ricoh’s sponsorship programs “are with a diverse mix of technology-forward clients in different geographies with varied assets.”
Ricoh is currently sponsoring the 2018 Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League, the Vegas Golden Knights of the National Hockey League and Hendrick Motorsports, which features four drivers – No. 9 Chase Elliott, No. 24 William Byron, No. 38 Jimmy Johnson and No. 88 Alex Bowman – competing on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The company also has a more than 20-year partnership with the University of Texas at Austin athletics department, one of the most successful and diverse college athletics programs in the nation.
So, why has Ricoh been so drawn to sports sponsorships as a way to connect with customers, partners and communities?
“Ricoh empowers digital workplaces and we partner with clients who are focused on digital transformation within their organization to work smarter,” Lyons said. “With a long history of innovation, we are uniquely positioned to form solid and mutually beneficially partnerships that enable us to engage and connect with our diverse audiences while helping our clients meet their business objectives.”
She cites the company’s partnership with the Philadelphia Eagles as an example of how these partnerships can have a tangible impact on their partners above and beyond the team’s performance on the field.
Ricoh helped the Eagles organization to enhance one aspect of the fan experience with its Ricoh interactive whiteboard. Also known as an interactive flat-panel display, it’s used during the Eagles postgame show to annotate video and images to dissect plays exactly the same way the coaches do it in team meetings or on the sideline. The technology is also used on Eagles 360, an online show that airs on PhiladelphiaEagles.com and the Eagles app during each season.
Lyons said the Eagles organization came to Ricoh for help re-evaluating how their information is managed and delivered. Ricoh’s team helped the club’s various business units optimize workflows, improve processes and leverage new technology. It also helped the Eagles organization implement reliable, uncomplicated secured printing and tracking for coaches and staff while providing a dependable partner for service, support and solutions.
Ricoh officials determine exactly which teams, leagues, sports and events to sponsor based on input and feedback from both its internal sales and marketing departments, Lyons said.
She added that while the company does not publicly disclose the exact dollar or percentage of its annual marketing budget is allocated for sports sponsorships, Ricoh’s goal with these deals goes far beyond pure brand awareness.
“Each sponsorship relationship is an opportunity to host both current and potential clients in an interactive and memorable way,” she said.
A prominent McKinsey report on sports sponsorship spending by corporations surprisingly concluded that one-third to one-half of all participating companies still don’t a have a methodology in place to measure sponsorship ROI in any great detail. It’s a mistake that some companies and their consultants are working to fix.
To that end, more than five years ago Ricoh developed an internal sponsorship marketing team dedicated to managing and measuring all of its sponsor-partner relationships and investments.
“With that, we assessed and adjusted our program to be more well-balanced from a geographic standing point and to align with our go-to-market strategy,” Lyons said, adding that proprietary measurement and analytics is a key aspect of the company’s sponsorship strategy.
Along with helping its customers work smarter, Ricoh also enjoys being part of the pride its clients, fans and employees share with its partners, their legacies and their brands. A big part of this evaluation equation is researching and understanding a team or sports property’s audience base and fan following when considering either a renewal or new investment in a sponsorship opportunity.
“We are proud to partner with marquee organizations, helping their digital transformation to work smarter,” Lyons said. “From our perspective, any sponsorship relationship should be a win-win engagement.”
is an editor and analyst at BPO Media.