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Exclusive: WSL’s Commercial Strategy In Lead Up To Championship Tour

W
ith the Australian leg of the 2021 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour set to kick off on Thursday in Newcastle, Ministry of Sport spoke with WSL APAC commercial director, Scott Hargreaves.

Discussing what commercial partnership activations will look like during the Australian legs of the Tour, Hargreaves said with limited numbers of fans able to attend the live events, there’s a stronger focus put on the broadcast element.

“The biggest changes from a partnership perspective around COVID is working on our COVID protocols and what those changes mean on-site,” Hargreaves told Ministry of Sport.

“It is pretty much business as usual, and we have over-indexed on strengthening that broadcast component due to COVID and the limited number of spectators that will be able to get to each event compared to a typical year.

“The biggest takeaway is the way we are over-indexing on that broadcast component, but that being said, most of our partners are still activating on ground at each of the four events in Australia.

“The main thing we’ve really focused on is broadcast integration and working on what does the content component of our partnerships look like.

“We pride ourselves on being able to create authentic, branded, storytelling for our partners because we obviously understand what sticks and doesn’t stick with our audience, and then we collaborate with our partners on creating authentic content that resonates specifically with our audience.

“The broadcasters try to make it as authentic as possible and come up with natural solutions that work for our audience,” he said.

Talking about the WSL’s commercial strategy and how the response from partners has changed due to COVID-19, Hargreaves said the WSL’s focus is on unique value.

“There certainly hasn’t been less support, we have great relationships with our partners both globally and domestically, they have all stuck by us in what’s been such a challenging year,” Hargreaves said.

“We’ve worked really hard with them on maximising that digital and broadcast product.

“The main goal for our partnerships is to make sure each one of our partners walk away with the knowledge they got a really strong return on investment and they’re not just a sponsor of the WSL, but it’s a fully integrated partnership with us at a number of different levels.

“That’s our main goal, to make sure they feel like it’s a massive win by partnering with us, and they get a really unique opportunity to talk to an audience that is typically hard to engage with,” he said.

When asked what advice he would give to sporting organisations in Australia and around the world on how to approach commercial partnerships, Hargreaves said: “My number one takeaway is to approach each relationship in a way that feels meaningful and to really care about the partners needs and objectives as a rights holder.”

You need to put a marketing hat on as much as possible and come at the relationship from their perspective as much as possible,” he told Ministry of Sport.