By Tom Degun

Seb Coe CMSJanuary 22 - London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe has claimed the sports sponsorship industry should see a strong boost this year as a direct result of the Olympics and Paralympic Games following new research conducted by sports marketing agency Fast Track.

The research, which Fast Track conducted alongside Opinion Leader Research, indicated that sponsorship activation budgets will rise along with a wider diversity of investment as brands look to develop new opportunities after the London 2012 focus.

The results showed that Paralympic sport and women's sport have benefitted substantially from London 2012 while two-thirds of National Governing Bodies are now confident sport participation levels will rise.

In addition, nearly half of the brands surveyed believed they will now spend more on their sponsorships while three-quarters of brands are optimistic new sponsors will enter the market.

Coe, who recently became executive chairman of Fast Track's parent company CSM Sport & Entertainment in a multi-million pound deal, has backed the research.

He claimed that the landscape of British sport has been changed permanently by London 2012 and that sport sponsorship should thrive in the post-Olympic and Paralympic market.

"London 2012 was without doubt an important commercial event, breaking all previous Organising Committee records for sponsorship income and prompting some of the most far-reaching marketing and sponsorship activation programmes ever seen around a summer Olympic and Paralympic Games," said Coe.

"Inevitably this will have impacted our industry, both in the UK and beyond, providing food for thought for brands, governing bodies and agencies alike."

In total, 82 per cent agreed sponsors and potential sponsors have changed their views on sports sponsorship as a direct result of London 2012 while 78 per cent of brands believe new sponsor brands are now more likely to enter the market.

It is also expected that brands will increase the allocation of activation budgets as sports sponsorship increasingly delivers audience focus, both in-game and out-of-game and across all media platforms, the survey claimed.

"There have already been a number of learned pronouncements on the outcomes of London 2012 both commercially and from a brand perspective, but it's interesting to see that this research has unearthed some intriguing details as it comes from those at the very heart of sport," said Coe.

"From the research, it's fair to say that companies that live and die by their ability to understand what young people are doing are actually probably more accurate and effective drivers of sport participation than public sector initiatives."

The most universal assertion made by the research is the increase in attractiveness of Paralympic sport to sponsors, with 85 per cent expecting an increase on this front in the coming months and years.

British Paralympic Association (BPA) chief executive Tim Hollingsworth is understandably pleased with the findings but suggested the hard work is only just beginning.

DavidWeir London 2012Paralympic sport has benefitted substantially from London 2012 following superb performances last summer from the likes of wheelchair racing star Dave Weir

"There was a fantastic rise in awareness of Paralympic sport through the Games, but we are still at base camp in terms of climbing the mountain," said Hollingsworth.

"Commercial partners will have realised that Paralympic sponsorship offers something unique and it is therefore no surprise that industry figures are predicting increasing interest in both the Paralympic movement and women's sports in the future; both of which would have been considered minority players in the past.

"These commercial partners will be crucial to the continued rising of awareness of the success of our athletes and the impact their success can have on wider society."

Women's sport also appeared to have caught the eye, with 74 per cent of brands stating it is now seen as a much more attractive proposition than before the summer.

There is also expected to be a greater focus on major multi-sport events such as the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

"We've seen in the past the successes of other major events in terms of attracting sponsors to sport, but I don't think anyone will have seen anything quite like this," said Fast Track chief executive Andy Westlake.

"In an increasingly fragmented communications market, sports sponsorship allows brands to get right within a targeted consumer's sweet spot.

"The increasing importance of sponsorship to brands is obvious and there is a fantastic opportunity here to back sports whose profiles have risen incredibly."

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