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Transforming biathlon into a premier sponsorship platform

3 min read

The BMW IBU World Championships Biathlon 2024 are a chance to shed some light on how the sport continues to provide sponsorship opportunities and innovative approaches for brands to connect with a targeted audience. The evolution and adaptation of individual events into a harmonious platform has resonated with many stakeholders, increasing the connection between fans and the International Biathlon Union’s (IBU) partners. Here are some key milestones in a partnership that has transformed  the sport since the collaboration began in the early 90’s, and how it added value to the sponsors.

Exclusivity and effectiveness through unified marketing approach

As early as 1998, Infront introduced a standardised marketing and sponsorship concept for the IBU World Cups. We acquired marketing rights from national biathlon federations and local organizing committees (LOCs) laying the groundwork for the seamless blend of sport and commercial opportunity.

Just four years later, in 2002, a central marketing approach was implemented, uniting the IBU with all national biathlon federations and LOCs. The result? A select group of first seven and since the 2014/15 season six consistently identical sponsors gracing the IBU Biathlon World Cups. This exclusivity elevated the sponsor experience and ensured consistent public visibility both on-site and through media coverage across all IBU events. It ensured that sponsors stood out in a clutter-free environment, increasing the effectiveness of their brand messaging. This maximised brand recognition among the targeted audience provides brands a new level of ROI on biathlon sponsorship and an acknowledged product for brands to connect to.

Aligning values of the sport and brands

Infront’s commitment to excellence led us to overhaul the marketing platform in 2010. The same year, global car manufacturer BMW stepped into the spotlight as the official Main Sponsor of the IBU World Cup and the IBU World Championships Biathlon. By 2014, BMW had ascended to the coveted position of Official Title Sponsor, lending its brand to the BMW IBU World Cup and World Championships Biathlon. The partnership was both symbolic and a testament to our shared vision of excellence.

Since then, BMW has continued to leverage this sports’ marketing opportunity and celebrates its 10-year anniversary as the Official Title Sponsor in 2024. It now used the BMW IBU World Championships 2024 not only for brand awareness, but also to specifically promote sustainability through its electric car fleet. It recognises biathlon as a platform to promote sustainable sports sponsorships, a topic which continues to be a key reason as to why companies invest in sport.

This shows that sponsors can leverage their partnership to showcase their corporate values and initiatives. In the example of BMW, its association with sustainability enhances its reputation and resonates positively with environmentally conscious consumers.

Driving innovation for better engagement

In 2016, sponsors were provided with unique opportunities to engage with fans and enhance brand visibility further. Initiatives like the LED boards allow sponsors to capture the attention of spectators, driving brand engagement in innovative ways. In the 2022/23 season, Infront introduced LED start backboards providing new opportunities and ways for sponsors to engage and reach millions of fans globally.

At the BMW IBU World Championships Biathlon 2024, the newest 1.5mm LED Pixel boards were used at the start in all individual and sprint races, showcasing four different BMW car animations. A 76.5m long LED Banner with over 688,500 single LEDs was installed on the track, featuring changing sponsors for the two competition weeks.

A legacy of impact

The BMW IBU World Championships Biathlon is a prestigious event in the winter sports calendar. Sponsors not only benefit from association with the event's prestige and aligning their brand with excellence in sports, but also gain access to a global audience of passionate fans. The event's media coverage and digital presence further extend sponsors' reach, ensuring exposure to a broad demographic of biathlon enthusiasts.

Today, Infront remains the exclusive marketing partner of the IBU after extending its partnership until the 2029/30 season. The cooperation includes the IBU World Championships Biathlon, the IBU World Cup Biathlon, the IBU Cup Biathlon, and the IBU Junior Cub Biathlon.

It markets the global marketing rights for all IBU World Cup events and IBU World Championships Biathlon collectively. This approach allows for the creation of attractive marketing and sponsorship packages and offers greatest exclusivity to partners and sponsors. The collective marketing approach not only ensures the consistent presence of the partners and sponsors at the events but also contributes to the increasing commercial appeal and value of the biathlon platform.

Overall, sponsors of the BMW IBU World Championships Biathlon benefit from a comprehensive sponsorship package that includes enhanced visibility, exclusivity, association with prestige and excellence, opportunities for promoting corporate values, innovative brand activation, and global audience engagement.