Sponsors with a ‘fan focus’ the biggest winners at Euro 2016 and Wimbledon

Orange was the standout sponsor at Euro 2016 while Haagen-Dazs was the winner at Wimbledon, with both brands resonating with consumers due to their focus on fan engagement according to new research.

According to the latest Brand Agility Index study by PR firm Waggener Edstrom Communications [WE], Orange was the best performing sponsor at the Euros, securing a score of 167 points. Its closest competitor, Hyundai, scored 138 points.

The Index is compiled by ranking brands out of five in areas including a campaign’s scalability, relevance, the speed at 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.

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

Gareth Davies, head of digital and insight at WE, says both Hyundai and Orange benefited by placing football fans at the heart of their marketing

He explains: “Hyundai’s ‘fanzone’ strategy was an interesting and effective approach. By hosting ‘viewing areas’ for the games they not only pulled fans into highly branded zone, but helped the activity spill from real life into the virtual world with Hyundai receiving positive praise for being the ‘facilitator’ of these fan moments. This is quite similar to the Orange strategy.

“The brand’s drive to feature a team’s colours on the Eiffel Tower managed to drive engagement throughout the tournament and built on fans’ passions for their national teams and has ensured people continued to participate over an extended period of time.”

Orange 167 points
Hyundai 138 points
Hisense 129 points
Coca-Cola 126 points
Carlsberg 118 points
Socar 116 points
Adidas 111 points
Turkish Airlines 106 points
McDonald’s 84 points
Continental Tires 83 points

One of the worst performing sponsors McDonald’s (with 84 points for the tournament) could also learn a thing or two from Coca-Cola in the future, according to Davies.

He adds: “Despite receiving initial negative feedback relating to a high sugar food/drink brand sponsoring sport, the use of Instagram allowed Coca-Cola to insert the brand ‘into the moment’ by having fans upload images of themselves drinking Coke while spectating.

“While this may not shift the Coca-Cola brand narrative any further forward, it has helped them become part of the conversation and be where the fans are.”

A fan focus pays off at Wimbledon too

Despite producing a “funny ad” Stella didn’t follow up with enough content to keep tennis fans engaged, says WE

Haagen-Dazs, meanwhile, was the most effective sponsor during Wimbledon 2016, according to Waggener Edstrom. It praised the ice cream brand for its fan-focused strategy.

“Despite not generating that many overall mentions, both Evian and Haagen-Dazs scored well in engagement, scalability and sentiment because they focused on the fans rather than the players,” says Davies.

Read more: How Wimbledon is balancing tradition with the rise of digital

“This ensured the fans had a more invested interest in helping fuel the conversation because they were actually part of it. From Haagen-Dazs’ point of view, the use of the hashtag #loseyourself as a call-to-action to have fans post images of themselves watching the games with ice cream in hand meant that it built on its current narrative around indulgence while having the flexibility to attach itself to sport.”

Haagen Dazs 65 points
Robinsons 56 points
IBM 55 points
Lansons 54 points
Ralph Lauren / Lavazza 53 points
Evian 50 points
Jaguar Land Rover 46 points
HSBC 44 points
Stella Artois 43 points
Slazenger 39 points

Both Jaguar and Stella Artois invested heavily as sponsors of Wimbledon 2016. Jaguar opted for an Andy Murray virtual reality (VR) pop-up experience, while Stella went as far as launching a live theatre experience to celebrate the history of the tournament.

However, both brands performed poorly as the campaigns offered little in terms of engagement opportunities.

Davies concludes: “Jaguar took an interesting approach as its main focus around the event was to promote it’s new F-Pace SUV. While the use of VR to put fans into the driving seat secured engagement at the event, it meant that it struggled to transition this experience into social engagement.

“For Stella, the ‘never heard of it’ ad is funny in that both Wimbledon and Stella Artois used to be little known brands but lacks little in its content in order to be able to be turned into an engaging brand story. Stella Artois is a brand that has a lot of heritage in France but not in the UK where the brand is not seen as ‘premium’ so it should look at aligning its social content more with the same narrative as Wimbledon – which has been part of British culture for some time.”