Orange is winning Euro 2016 sponsorship battle as McDonald’s struggles

At the close of the Euro 2016 group stage, Orange was the most effective sponsor according to the latest Brand Agility Index study by PR firm Waggener Edstrom Communications [WE].

The mobile network brand, which topped a list tracking 10 sponsors with a score of 71 points, was credited for driving engagement through personalisation in its ongoing #OrangeSponsorsYou campaign (created by POKE).

“Despite having diminished brand visibility in the UK, Orange has done a very good job to drive engagement, personalisation and originality through a campaign whose call to action #OrangeSponsorsYou is asking for fan selfies – this in turn ensures that Orange’s brand is being closely intertwined with fans on tournament stories,” says Gareth Davies, head of digital and insight at WE.

The brand agility index is compiled by ranking brands out of five in areas including a campaign’s scalability, relevance, the speed in which it responds on social media, engagement, originality, personalisation and sentiment. WE achieves this by analysing all conversations and engagement levels from brands across news, blogs, forums, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and comments on YouTube during the tournament.

And the index also found that headline sponsors such as McDonald’s (with a score of 36) and Adidas (with a score of 48) had both struggled to make an impact at the first stage of the international football competition.

Read more: Euro 2016: Understanding fans and a sense of humour are key to marketing success

Adidas must prioritise storytelling

According to Davies, Adidas, which generated the most social mentions out of all the sponsors from the start of the tournament to June 23 due to a reliance on competitions, has failed as a sponsor to provide enough examples of compelling storytelling.

“Both Adidas and Carlsberg, which have been generating the most mentions out of all of the sponsors across the first two weeks of the tournament, have heavily relied on competitions,” he explains.

Orange 71 points
Carlsberg 61 points
Hyundai 60 points
Coca-Cola 59 points
Hisense 59 points
Adidas 48 points
Socar 47 points
Turkish Airlines 41 points
Continental Tires 37 points
McDonald’s 36 points

“While this is proven to increase mentions there is no storytelling off the back of it as most responses are retweets or likes – which in turn limits how well we score them on engagement.”

He adds: “In comparison both Coca-Cola and Hyundai, who have only seen 100th of the number of mentions that Carlsberg and Adidas have seen, have instead focused on engaging with fans in order to ignite deeper storytelling. Coke’s strategy of providing regular updates on the games and Hyundai’s 360 video content have all allowed fans and followers to have more of a say which in turn increases personalisation and engagement scores.”

McDonald’s is ‘unpopular’

McDonald’s, which sponsors the player escorts (pictured) during the tournament, was the study’s worst performing sponsor and Davies believes this is due to the global negativity currently surrounding advocators of unhealthy foods. He says this sentiment is also hindering Coca-Cola’s performance during the tournament.

Davies concludes: “Coca-Cola and McDonalds have, obviously, faced criticism from many social media commentators regarding the fact that fatty food and drink brands should not sponsor sporting events as it gives out the wrong message.

“It hasn’t helped that Coca-Cola has been pushing out posts asking people to enjoy a Coke during half times and McDonalds has been mainly quiet in the face of a negative backlash. As a result we scored them low for engagement and sentiment but the bigger picture here is that these brands need to tell a bigger story – Coca-Cola should have built its narrative around its broader sports programmes and McDonalds should have at least tried to engage on some level with regards to what it is doing to help combat obesity.”

The dominance of Orange follows a recent study by Microsoft’s search engine Bing, which crowned Orange the second most searched for global sponsor (19%) behind Kia Motors (21%). Its Bing success was attributed to an older audience, with the study revealing it had the highest share (42%) of searches from over 50s.

Marketing Week will report the final rankings from Waggener Edstrom Communications [WE] at the end of Euro 2016.


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Mindi Chahal

With just three weeks to go until UEFA Euro 2016 kicks off, two separate studies suggest that TV is not the only option for brands looking to engage fans, who should be looking to target women as well as men across online, radio, print and mobile.