UK sponsors taste defeat

The British Olympic team won’t be alone in its disappointment at failing to match past Games’ medal tallies.

Sponsors, hoping to see medals turn into sales, poured 7m into the team and its athletes, and could be reluctant to invest money in future Games. Cadbury was one of the few sponsors to go on television with a campaign supporting the team. Golden Wonder invested 1.2m in its equivalent TV campaign. But promotion can backfire when things don’t go according to plan. Cadbury only scored three per cent in pre-Games awareness research.

Coincidence or not, as the Games closed and Britain was at the wrong end of the medals table, John Major announced that 100m of National Lottery money would be available for centres of sporting excellence.

Plans to inject cash into British sport for developing athletes could bolster disheartened sponsors, says APA Sponsorship Consultants account manager Charlie Beauchamp. But the announcement of spending cuts days after Major’s statement suggests that the British Olympic Association will still be dependent on commercial sponsors.

Beauchamp believes sponsors will not be deterred on a global level. But within Britain there could be trouble selling sponsorship. “In the very short term most sponsors are committed already. But if you were trying to sell sponsorship for an athletics event in a few months’ time there might be no reason why anyone would want to get into it.”

API Championship Group senior marketing manager Joe Belcher is more philosophical: “Losing sponsorship won’t necessarily be because of poor performances at the Olympics – athletes have their good days and they have their bad ones.”

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