In the fast-paced arena of sports marketing, sports sponsorships have surged as a pivotal marketing strategy. 

With the digital realm becoming a cornerstone of sponsorship activation, there’s no denying the power of social media in revolutionising how brands interact with fans. Brands today aren’t just seeking visibility – they are diving into the realm of values association, storytelling, and direct fan engagement. 

But how do you make sponsored content a resounding success on social media? 

To help answer this, I’ve identified successful sports sponsorship social media campaigns and pinpointed key learnings for International Federations and Rights Holders to consider.  


The Digital Transformation of Sports Sponsorship 

Digital media is engrained in the fabric of sports sponsorship. With so much time spent online, social media is the perfect place for brands to unlock their sponsorships and engage fans with creative campaigns.  

Social24 claim that select sponsors generate more than 40% of their total media value from social media efforts. In the NBA, for example, the sponsors of the top 10 teams drive 60% of their media value from social media. 

However, sponsorship is no longer merely about exposure and brand affiliations, but value-driven long-term engagement. 

Brands now activate campaigns by piggybacking on existing content – training sessions, behind-the-scenes peeks, and game-day build-ups – to cultivate a direct and genuine connection with fans. Authentic storytelling and leveraging the innate influence of athletes is key. 


Navigating Challenges 

Despite the immense opportunities, integrating sponsor content into digital spaces is far from straightforward.  

Organisations face hurdles like maintaining audience engagement without overwhelming fans with sponsor-driven content, ensuring authenticity, and cutting through the digital noise. Challenges also include precise audience targeting, measuring ROI, keeping up with the ever-changing social media algorithms, and embracing emerging technologies. 

To navigate these challenges, a dynamic, adaptive approach is required – one that leans heavily on creativity, analytics, and an in-depth understanding of both the audience and the digital landscape. 


Trailblazing Sponsorship Partnerships 

Let’s explore three sponsorship partnerships that have crafted impactful digital strategies and engaging social content. 

Liverpool FC and Nivea Men

Nivea Men’s collaboration with Liverpool FC is a masterclass in content creation that resonates with a broad audience. Their ‘Dear Liverpool FC…’ series not only appealed to the football fanbase but touched hearts globally, transcending the sport itself. With 28 million views and 2.3 million engagements, the content series stands as parent-company Beiersdorf’s most successful content piece.  

The partnership also leveraged player star power while offering fans personalised experiences and opportunities to win prizes, blending product exposure with genuine fan appreciation. 


Wrexham AFC and TikTok

@wrexham_afc Stand aside, Season Two of Welcome to Wrexham is nearly upon us #WxmAFC #WrexhamFX #RyanReynolds #RobMcElhenney ♬ original sound - Wrexham AFC

Wrexham AFC’s 2-year partnership with TikTok was an innovative blend of entertainment and sports. TikTok was uniquely positioned at the centre of entertainment, technology, and the creator community to help bring Wrexham’s story to life. Nick Tran, Global Head of Marketing at TikTok, stated that the partnership was a natural choice for them given the growth of football clubs, players, and trends on TikTok.

This partnership exemplifies the power of leveraging platform-specific growth opportunities – full access to the breadth of TikTok’s community-building and storytelling capabilities was a perfect match for Wrexham AFC’s objectives.

It catapulted the club’s TikTok account to over 1.5 million followers and 17.4 million likes, with the club’s matches and documentary (‘Welcome to Wrexham’) garnering global attention. The impact of this partnership was felt beyond social media. The club saw home and away attendances grow and sold an unprecedented 24,000 shirts during 2022/2023.


Barclays x Wimbledon

Barclays’ debut as Wimbledon’s Official Banking Partner showcased a strategic blend of on-site experiences and social media engagement. With activations like ‘Take on Tiafoe’, the Barclays Fanzone, exclusive Q&As with tennis stars, and immersive photo opportunities, they transformed onsite spectator experience. 

Where they really excelled was by seamlessly extending this experience to social platforms with behind-the-scenes insights, daily previews, and information on how to access freebies and experiences.  

They also made the big moments bigger by sponsoring the play of the day, which was shared to the Wimbledon/Barclay’s social channels regularly.  


Lessons Learned 

Key learnings can be taken from these case studies for International Federations and Rights Holders: 

Engagement is paramount 

Successful campaigns involve the audience with activations such as ‘surprise and delight’ moments or competitions to maintain interest. 

Authenticity is non-negotiable 

Content must resonate and feel genuine to elicit real engagement. 

Emotions drive engagement 

Content that stirs emotions can transcend the sport itself, as seen with Liverpool FC and Nivea Men. 

Athletes are your ace 

Athletes are your sport’s biggest stars and influencers. Utilising them lends authenticity and amplifies reach. 

Capitalise on big moments 

Amplifying major events can significantly boost engagement and sponsor visibility. Barclays did this well with ‘Your Play of the Day’.  

Platform-specific targeting 

Like the Wrexham AFC x TikTok partnership, choose platforms that align with growth opportunities and your audience. 

Onsite to online translation 

Creative onsite activations should have an online counterpart to engage the digital audience, as Barclays demonstrated with Wimbledon. 


For sports sponsorships, social media is at the forefront, not an afterthought.  

From immersive storytelling to engaging competitions, brands are unlocking social media’s power to amplify their sponsorships, creating a strategic mosaic of creativity, engagement, and relevance that resonates with sports fans globally. 

Ultimately, the key is to create campaigns that not only promote sponsors but also win the hearts of fans.  

Redtorch is a bespoke and fully independent research, content & creative agency working to make sport more relevant. Click here to find out more about our work.