* Global sponsorship spending to hit $48.7 bln in 2011
* N. American sponsor spend to rise 5.8 pct to $18.2 bln
* 2010 growth ahead of IEG projections
By Ben Klayman
DETROIT, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Global spending on sponsorships of sports and other activities is projected to rise 5.2 percent this year after a stronger-than-expected increase in 2010, according to a research firm that tracks such spending.
Spending on sports, causes, festivals, the arts, entertainment tours and associations is expected to grow to $48.7 billion in 2011 from $46.3 billion last year, said IEG, a unit of advertising giant WPP Plc (WPP.L).
In North America, such spending is expected to rise 5.8 percent to $18.2 billion, IEG said.
“We’re confident the industry has rebounded from the historic low point of 2009,” IEG Senior Vice President Jim Andrews said in a statement.
A year ago, the North American sponsorship industry lamented 0.6 percent lower spending in 2009 — the first decline ever — as corporate backers slashed budgets during the recession. Global spending rose 2.1 percent, however.
Last year, spending rose 5.2 percent globally and 3.9 percent in North America, ahead of IEG’s projections for growth of 4.5 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.
Expected sponsorship spending growth in 2011 should outpace media spending, projected to grow 3.9 percent in North America this year according to WPP’s GroupM.
By category, sponsorship spending on sports — the largest segment — is expected to increase 6.1 percent this year after increasing 3.4 percent last year, IEG said. While the four major North American sports leagues saw 7.6 percent growth last year, other types of sports saw little or no increases.
Growth in spending on cause sponsorships is expected to slow slightly to 5 percent this year from 6.7 percent last year, IEG said.
Growth in spending on the arts is expected to rebound to 5.1 percent from 2.7 percent last year as the segment’s two largest backers — automotive and financial — return, IEG said.
Spending on entertainment tours and attractions in 2011 is expected to grow 5.9 percent, followed by 5.6 percent for associations and membership organizations, and 4.9 percent for festivals, fairs and annual events, IEG said.
As for total dollars spent, the breakdowns in North America are expected to remain unchanged from 2010 with sports at 68 percent, followed by entertainment tours (10 percent), causes (9 percent), arts (5 percent), festivals (5 percent) and associations (3 percent), IEG said.
Outside North America, Europe will remain the largest source of sponsorship spending, followed by Asia Pacific, IEG said. However the fastest growing region will be Central and South America. (Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit)