Castrol mulls football sponsorship exit

Castrol is understood to be ready to cut its ties to football although the business says a decision will not be made regarding future activity around the sport until after the World Cup.

Castrol is thought to be ready to end its five-year tie to football after this summer’s World Cup.

The expected exit follows a review of its sponsorship strategy that concluded activity around recent World and European Cups failed to drive awareness in emerging markets such as China, according to a source close to the company.

The motor oil and lubricants company’s ties to football date back to 2008 when it became one of 10 global partners of the UEFA European Championship alongside brands such as Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. It went on to sponsor the 2012 competition as well as the 2010 World Cup and 2009 and 2013 Confederation Cups.

Castrol is putting the finishing touches to its activation strategy for this summer’s World Cup in Brazil where it is likely to launch the Castrol Index ranking system used in previous tournaments. The business is planning to complete activity before finalising its decision not to extend deals with FIFA and UEFA.  

In a statement the company says: “We use sports and other sponsorships as a means to connect to and engage with our consumers and customers. We remain focussed on activating our 2014 FIFA World Cup sponsorship and ensuring that we fully maximise this fantastic global opportunity to the benefit of our customers, consumers and employees around the world – with an exciting announcement in relation to this coming soon. No decisions will be made regarding future football sponsorships until after the World Cup.”

Despite establishing a five-year association with the sport, Castrol opted against creating campaigns on the scale of some of its fellow sponsors choosing instead to activate the majority of its rights through a mix of PR and corporate hospitality. Those above-the-line campaigns that did launch featured brand ambassadors such as Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo linking the brand to elite performance.

Castrol’s exit would leave a gap in FIFA’s sponsorship global line-up at a time when the governing body is opening up regional packages for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in Russia and Qatar.

The business has a strong sponsorship presence in motorsport and is also one of the main partners of the Australian Rugby Union.