Fans’ concerns will hit football sponsors

Wilf Maunoir’s letter on football sponsorship (MW August 24) misses more than one point.

First, before the FIFA World Cup, awareness of Adidas and Coca-Cola as sponsors came mainly from their marketing efforts. After the Cup, this awareness was boosted by hundreds of television hours showing heavy branding around stadiums. Increased awareness post-tournament is to be expected, as any other finding would have been astonishing.

Second, “certain big brands are associated with the biggest events whether true or not,” but “you need to be a main sponsor to really create cut-through.” How is this not contradictory? If Nike’s 33% awareness is not real cut-through, I don’t know what is. Ask any brand owner the value of being recognised as a sponsor by one-third of a FIFA World Cup audience.

All of this is a red herring, of course, because awareness alone would be a very naive aim. Whether investing millions of pounds or a few pennies, your goal should be to create an emotional bond between brand and consumer. Above-, below- or through-the-line, you don’t simply want to be recognised. You want to be loved. Forget this and you can turn consumers away from your brand with your marketing, which certainly happened at the FIFA World Cup. We know this from our own research. We kept hearing the same view, with fans concerned that the corporate pound is becoming more important to football than the supporters’ money. Fans are increasingly unhappy at the commercialisation of what they regard as “their game”, and that unhappiness is being directed as much at sponsors as at football’s organising bodies. We anticipated consumer apathy, but had not expected it to such a degree, or with such passionate disinterest and alienation. It sounds a clear warning which brands should note.

David Atkinson

Managing partner

Space London

London SW6

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