Sponsorship industry condemns Nationwide move back to TV ads

Nationwide’s decision to end its sponsorship of the Football Association in favour of increasing its television spend “flies in the face of established wisdom”, according to sponsorship experts.

The building society, which during the past ten years has been an official partner of the England team and of the FA Cup, announced last week that it will end its deal after the 2006 World Cup.

Nationwide says it will maintain a high-profile football portfolio – including its sponsorship of the Nationwide Conference and the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish international teams.

But it adds that despite the fact many brands are putting more money into sponsorship, its own research shows that its TV advertising is proving more effective.

Nationwide head of brand marketing Peter Gandolfi says: “We have developed a hugely successful way of delivering our message through TV advertising and intend to use a greater proportion of our communications budget in that area.”

Sponsorship experts have questioned the move, however. Alastair Macdonald, managing director of consultancy Connexus, says: “Nationwide is definitely going against the grain. Brands are increasingly recognising that, faced with 200 TV channels, PVRs and red buttons, it’s harder to find and engage target audiences through TV spot advertising.

“Research shows that ad avoidance is increasing, so more brands are looking at ways to put themselves within the programmes people are watching.”

Phil Carling, head of football at sports marketing agency Octagon, adds: “It certainly flies in the face of established wisdom – with media fragmentation, it is becoming practically impossible to reach certain audiences, particularly 16- to 24-year-olds, through TV.”

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