When Infront and the Turkish Basketball Federation (TBF) first began their partnership in November 2013, it was the first time the rightsholder had fully aligned with a sports marketing agency. The aim was to raise Turkish basketball’s commercial game for “all its stakeholders – most importantly the fans, the clubs, the athletes and the sponsors.”
The results of the partnership certainly back up the initial aspirations of the TBF and this success forms the backbone of the four-year prolongation between the two partners, taking the relationship to 11 years.
“In the seven years since we first began our work with TBF – and in fact opened Infront’s office in Turkey – we have helped bring a broader and more international audience to Turkish basketball,” says Ender Uslu, Managing Director of Infront Turkey. “Domestically, that has led to an increase in attendance of 66 per cent, selling over one million tickets a season before Covid-19 hit.
“Of course, the increased audience had a direct impact on sponsorship, leading us to broker over 40 agreements across the whole period including global brands like Sony, ING Bank, Total, Head&Shoulders, Rexona, Lenovo and Perfetti. It is an incredible effort and just underlines how well our collaboration is working.
“What we wanted to bring to the table was an astute knowledge of how TBF can reach specific demographics through specific activations. The only way you can achieve that level of detail is through a long-term collaboration. It isn’t something that can be achieved in just a season or two as it doesn’t allow for the seeds you plant early on to fully grow.
“Take the increase of international broadcasters as an example. We now have 24 for the ING Basketball Super League, which by itself creates a substantial amount of revenue. That sort of result doesn’t happen overnight and requires planning and adaptations to your core product. Everything from the gamedays to our online presence needed to align, and creating those synergies is not a quick fix. It is the same with our social media following, which has increased by 700 per cent over the last seven years."
For TBF, bringing in an external agency was a big step, but it also allowed new ideas and concepts to be introduced, paving the way for an improved commercial package.
“We have a strong product both at national level with our men’s, women’s and youth teams as well as at club level and the proof is the continued attraction of sponsors,” TBF President Mr. Hidayet Turkoglu adds. “Covid-19 has acted as a reset in some ways, and the sports industry has changed fundamentally as a direct result. However, we feel that with Infront at our side we can evolve once again and, in four years’ time, set a new benchmark for the future of the sport in our country.”
The combination of knowing how to navigate a world that is constantly changing and ensuring you maintain a direction to reach the ultimate goal forms part of why multi-year deals work according to Julien Ternisien, Infront’s Senior Vice President of Summer Sports.
“Long-term partnerships are a core part of Infront's DNA,” he explained. “This is why we put such an emphasis on truly getting to know the properties we work with. Maximising as much revenue out of a property as quickly as possible without looking at the product as a whole can only bring short-term benefits. It is important to work with clients and offer ways to improve the full picture, which is ultimately mutually beneficial for all - including the fans who get the best product possible.”
Creating a foundation for the future and gradually building strong properties may take time, but the result can form a platform for long-term commercial success, even overcoming unseen challenges such as Covid-19. Whilst these circumstances do still have an impact, it becomes less a question of how to survive and more about digging into the opportunities it brings up.