Ideas & Debate

Leveraging the power of sports to grow brands


Impala Club Vincent Mose breaks away from Kenya Harlequins Frank Wanyama during their Kenya Cup Rugby match on January 26, 2019 at Impala Club in Nairobi, Kenya. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NMG


  • It is clear that the value of sports in the promotion of business brands cannot be overstated.
  • The current digital world means that people are so interconnected and can access and follow events quite easily.

Sports is a global phenomenon with a following like no other. It cuts across a cross-section of people; genders, races, and ages of people across the globe. As such, sports has become a social phenomenon that connects all kinds of people across the globe.

Certainly, almost everyone has a particular sport or team they are rooted in. Therefore, it is clear that the value of sports in the promotion of business brands cannot be overstated.

Sports has for years played a major role in the business industry by presenting huge target audiences for brands to connect with their customers. It has proven over time to be one of the best means of getting businesses and products noticed by the public and it is without a doubt a very effective marketing tool.

It gives companies an opportunity to tap into the passion that consumers have for sports to promote their brands.

Important to note is that the value of sports to brands comes from the fact that it attracts many people, meaning that without fans, businesses find it difficult to support sporting activities.

We have seen this during this Covid-19 pandemic period which has forced sporting activities to be held without fans with others being completely cancelled as a means of curbing the spread of the virus. With no live events and no fans, it means that many sponsors lack the foundations from which to activate their marketing, fan engagement, and all other activities associated with the rights and assets they have acquired.

This has therefore seen many of these corporations become reluctant to support sporting events and teams all over the world.

However, this should not be the case. The lack of fans in stadiums does not mean that sports have lost their value to corporate businesses. As mentioned, sports is one of the biggest global phenomena that many people have a strong passion for. It, therefore, matters less whether they follow their favourite sports, teams and sportsmen either physically from the stadiums or remotely from their homes.

The current digital world means that people are so interconnected and can access and follow events quite easily. Sports fans can therefore easily follow their favourite sport and teams as well as they would while in the stadium. In fact, many sporting events and teams in the world have more fans who follow them through social media and television than those who watch them live in stadiums.

For instance, according to Brandwatch, English Premier League games have an audience of 4.7 billion viewers spread across 212 territories of coverage around the world, making it one of the most followed sporting events in the world. Similarly, the Olympic Games continue to be one of the biggest sporting events thanks to its global viewership.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the 2008 Beijing Olympics in China drew the largest television audience in the history of the Olympics, with 4.7 billion people across the globe tuning in. The recent 2016 Rio Olympics attracted a global viewership of 3.2 billion.

This simply shows that sports remain a valuable avenue that corporates can continue to leverage on even during such a period when fans are not physically available in stadiums. This is however not to downplay the importance of fans’ physical presence.

Fans’ physical presence is not only important to the game itself, but to corporate sponsors. One-on-one interactions between fans and brands or products remain of immense value. Important to note is that there is a great opportunity for businesses to reach their target audiences through sports even in current times.

It is on this basis that Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) continues to value sports as a means of connecting with its customers. KBL has a rich history of supporting sports and has been involved in various sports disciplines over the years.

Just recently, KBL through the Tusker brand was an official partner of Team Kenya during the recently concluded Tokyo Olympic Games following a sponsorship of Sh45 million. This support was to ensure that our teams travelling to Tokyo were well prepared for the games and to help address the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Not only that, KBL’s association with Kenyan football dates decades back where we have and continue to support the Tusker Football Club, as we have also been among the key sponsors of several football competitions including the Kenya Premier League.

We also have a strong footprint in rugby where we continue to offer our support to teams and events in the country including the national teams and clubs. The same goes for golf where we have continued to offer support to golfers and events such as the Magical Kenya Open and the Kenya Safari Series.

No doubt, sports has been key to the success of the different brands under KBL over the years. We believe in sports as a perfect way of connecting with Kenyans and as a means of bringing people together, in line with our objectives as a company.

In view of this, KBL shall continue to offer support to sports in the country as a mutually beneficial avenue for the company and the various sports disciplines.

Graham is the Marketing and Innovation Director for East Africa Breweries #ticker:EABL