Why sponsor the NBL?

I have to admit I’ve been involved in a number of large sponsorships over the years, but I think I’d struggle to show a real return on investment for some of them.

Maybe it’s because my hair line is further back than it used to be or that I’m coming to grips with being a father, but lately I’m finding I’ve grown suspicious and grumpy of anything and everything – especially those things that I can’t measure.

I’ve seen it many times before and probably been guilty of it myself. You get a sponsorship proposal across your desk for a well know sporting team and you get delusions of grandeur. You think by sponsoring the team they might ask you to play a game at some stage if they’re short on numbers. At the very least you’ll get to tell people you watch all the action from an air-conditioned corporate box.

Don’t get me wrong, a sponsorship with clear objectives can be a very powerful part of a marketing tool kit. It’s just important to minus out the ‘sexiness factor’ when evaluating its potential.

For us here at iiNet, signing up as major sponsor of the NBL was our first step into large commercial sponsorships

The season is well on its way with some good crowds for the first part of the season. I’ve been to a couple of games so far and have been really impressed with the way both Basketball Australia and the clubs themselves have taken to the challenge of re-establishing basketball back into the hearts and minds of the sporting public. Let’s be honest, it’s going to be a big job for all of us involved.

I was at a Melbourne Tigers game on the weekend and took a bit of time to look around the venue and there’s no doubt there is a real passionate group of fans still keen to see professional basketball in Australia. The challenge now is to get those people talking about it.

The power of word of mouth and brand advocates is hugely underrated in traditional marketing strategy. One of the key lessons I’ve learnt is that the success of a sponsorship has a lot to do with setting the right objectives at the outset. You need to make sure it’s a core component of day to day business and remember that it’s a commitment to long term success. I hate when I see a company sponsor a team, event or oval for the year and then pull out the next – to me it is a total waste of the equity that has been built.

So if you haven’t been to a game since they were calling names like Loggins, Keogh and Crawford, I think you’ll be surprised how entertaining a trip to the basketball is. The sport is on the up and that means great things for us at iiNet.


  1. Great work Matt, great strategy!

  2. Stuart says:

    Great article. I couldn’t agree more about sponsorship. I am the marketing manager of a supplier of building products into the construction industry and it amazes me how many companies take out sponsorships of not just sporting events or teams, but industry conferences, trade events, etc and then not turn up or make a lacklustre attempt to communicate to potential customers at the event. Likewise, they often don’t integrate the sponsorship into anything else they are doing within their company.

    The key to making sponsorship work is to integrate it into your business. The company and all who work for it are ambassadors for the league / team / event, just as the league / team or event are ambassadors for the brand.

    As a long time (I remember Keogh, Loggins and Crawford too) basketball fan (and former social league player) , I am delighted with the NBL’s agreement with iinet and as a marketer, I am pleased to see iinet make it work for them. Work indeed it has…..I have signed up yesterday as a iinet customer and am waiting delivery of my new BOB system. I can tell you that I would not have been a customer without the NBL sponsorship.

    Good job NBL, good job iinet and here’s to the best season of Australian basketball ever !!