Looking forward to 2020

At the end of the year I always get even more impatient than I normally am. Come late November I’m eager to fast-forward to the new year and tend to forget to reflect on all the great moments of the past year. And with 2020 gearing up to be a great sporting year, you can imagine that I cannot wait to get started this time round.

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I’m really looking forward to all those sporting highlights that 2020 has lined up for us. Formula 1 in the Netherlands, UEFA Euro 2020 (with four matches in Amsterdam), the start of the Vuelta in our country and, of course, the Olympic Games. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait until the new year to get my teeth into these new challenges, because many of the projects we started in 2019 were already sports-dominated.

Several of these assignments have to do with the Dutch GP. This is the biggest sporting event ever organised in the Netherlands and is on the calendar only five months from now. As a marketing professional, I am particularly curious to see how the various sponsors are going to present themselves and what impact their efforts will have. But as a sports enthusiast, it’s that fantastic racing festival in Zandvoort that fills me with anticipation.

Some new sponsorships we started in 2019 are still unknown to the general public and will only be launched in 2020. One of these strikes a particular chord with me: a new international sponsor in women’s football. In an earlier edition of this newsletter I grumbled about big brands being so reluctant to embrace women’s football. But the ball now finally seems set to roll at international level in 2020.

In general, it’s great news that big brands are entering into new long-term sports partnerships. Because last year we saw doubts creeping into the minds of some large sports sponsors we work with. Viewing figures for sports events are in decline. Are people less interested in sports, they wondered. And are sports still the right vehicle for growing brands? Yes, they definitely are. Consumers of all ages and on all continents continue to love and follow sports. But not in the same ways as before. The main challenge for the coming years is to understand how sports can be harnessed to build a personal relationship with fans, and particularly the younger generations of fans.

One of my goals for 2020, therefore, is to learn to understand fan behaviour (on the media) so well that we can enable sponsors to use these insights to unlock relevant sponsorship opportunities. The power of sports as a brand vehicle remains unequalled, but only if you have a good understanding of the behaviour of sports fans.

That goal – like the rest of my wishes for 2020 – was put down on paper some time ago. Because I believe that the chance of reaching your goals is a lot greater if you write them down (and revisit them regularly). That way, you turn your goals into something tangible that you cannot wait to achieve, instead of a vague ambition that may or may not succeed at some time in the future. So my advice for everyone chasing a goal in 2020 is: write it down in big bold letters and make your year one to remember.