Sport is an extremely diverse entity, and its individual disciplines often transcend their purpose and fan base. As a result of this, the history of sport is littered with unique and unusual collaborations, from creative sponsorship deals to innovative tournaments that drive awareness and generate interest.
The age of technological advancement has also created additional mediums through which collaborations can be formed, with online partnerships increasingly popular between individual players, teams and leading brands.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at three of the most unique and creative sporting collaborations from recent history...
1. Caesar Casino and the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA)
During its heyday in the 1980s, world snooker was a headline grabbing sport that held the attention of millions of viewers throughout the UK. Its multi-faceted players were at the heart of the sports’ popularity, with talented but flawed individuals such as Alex Higgins and Kirk Stevens dominating both front and back page media headlines in their time.
The sport has experienced a significant decline since then, however, although there have been numerous attempts to regenerate the game and create a more appealing format.
This has led to a number of interesting collaborations, including one that took place in 2011 between the Caesar Casino and the WPBSA. The former, which is a leading innovator and host of various new online Casino games, created the innovative Snooker Shoot-out experience and hosted an exciting, one-frame knock out tournament for the world's leading players.
With stars such as Ronnie O’Sullivan and Stephen Hendry competing for a top prize of £32,000 in a high octane format, the tournament achieved high levels of media focus and the sponsorship of an extremely popular UK gaming platform.
2. AFC Wimbledon and Award-winning Author John Green
AFC Wimbledon is a unique and principled football club, having been formed from the ashes of the now defunct Wimbledon team that won the FA Cup in 1988. Established by devoted fans and followers, it is a club like no other and therefore operates in an innovative and extremely collaborative manner.
Its recent decision to partner with award-winning author John Green is therefore typical, while it also represents a ground-breaking deal that changes the face of football sponsorship in the UK.
The globally renowned author, who has a huge social media fan-base, remains an avid fan of English football and has a huge amount of respect for the achievements of AFC Wimbledon and the club's back-story.
He has therefore agreed to sponsor the club for personal reasons rather than in the simple pursuit of financial gain, and this creates potential for similar deals among independent, lower-league teams. With a strong following in New York and all around the world, the deal certainly raises the profile of the club and its potential for growth in the future.
3. Liverpool Football Club and Dunkin’ Donuts
At the other end of the sponsorship scale is Liverpool’s collaboration with new sponsors Dunkin’ Donuts. Undoubtedly influenced by the club’s American owners, the deal is reportedly worth millions of pounds and will plunge Anfield into a sea of high quality baked goods and iconic signage from one of the most popular companies in the whole of the U.S.
While it is a collaboration that makes sound commercial sense for both brand and club, however, it raises serious questions concerning the long-term integrity of the sport.
Dunkin’ Donuts is hardly renowned for producing healthy or nutritional foodstuff, so the messaging behind such a partnership seems to contradict the serious nature of diet in sport.
The long-term impact of consuming donuts is hardly conducive to maintaining a fit and healthy physical form, and there is a sense that Liverpool may be sending out mixed signals to its younger fan base and the potential stars of tomorrow. So even though commercialism may have a place in sport, it should never undermine the core values of a specific discipline.