The 11 sponsors of the Euro 96 football tournament, the biggest UK sporting event for 30 years, made virtually no impression on the public, despite spending 38.5m to back the event.
The exclusive results are revealed in a wide-ranging survey by RSL Research Services, which asked a total of 19,000 people over a year which sponsorships they could recall.
Of Euro 96’s 11 sponsors – Canon, Carlsberg, Coca-Cola, Fujifilm, JVC, MasterCard, McDonald’s, Opel, Philips, Snickers and Umbro – only Coca-Cola made the top-ten list, and then only in joint tenth spot.
Coca-Cola, however, made the list for three other sponsorship arrangements: the Olympics; the League Cup; and Diet Coke’s sponsorship of films on ITV.
Sandra Greer, head of RSL sponsorship, sport & leisure who collated the figures, says Coca-Cola supported the Euro 96 tournament well, using television and press advertising, as well as on-can promotions which drew in a lot of consumer support.
Another sports sponsorship analyst adds: “Coca-Cola is very good at supporting its promotions. Far too many companies still simply put their money on an advertising hoarding and walk away.”
Previous research on the effectiveness of the Euro 96 sponsorship by BMRB found Coke achieved spontaneous recognition with 56 per cent of people, while McDonald’s was second with 44 per cent recognition.
The brand with the highest recall last year was Robinsons fruit juices. Its presence at the Wimbledon tennis championship, which it does not actually sponsor, achieved spontaneous association with two-thirds of those RSL surveyed. This was done with minimal advertising and simply with a presence on the players’ drinks stands on the umpires chairs.
Cadbury’s sponsorship of Coronation Street has also served it well and it was the second most recognised sponsor in the survey. However, consumers associated the brand with TV programmes in general, rather than with Coronation Street in particular.
The survey shows that longer term deals lead to strong public awareness – Carling Black Label’s sponsorship of the FA Premiership was the third most recalled deal.
Promotions of this type between Flora and the London Marathon, and Marlboro and Motorsport, fared well, coming in at fourth equal and seventh in RSL’s table. Littlewoods sponsorship of the FA Cup also brought it into the top ten, alongside Coke and Carlsberg, for Liverpool FC. This was the only individual football team sponsorship to make RSL’s top ten.
Ironically, some observers suggest the long-term deals could be under threat as more money pours into sport and sports organisations become increasingly commercial in outlook.
One specialist comments: “A lot of sports bodies are asking for too much. Sky TV is putting a lot of money into sports, and the bodies are then turning round to their sponsors and seeking price rises. It’s a dangerous game because the result is that long-term sponsors are dropping out of the game.”